Bollywood welcomed funds from gangsters, politicians:WikiLeaks

Washington: A leaked US diplomatic cable has said that Bollywood welcomed funding from gangsters and politicians, known in India as "black money."

While there is no direct reference of Dawood Ibrahim which allegedly financed a number of movies, the cable said that in recent decades, the Bollywood film industry has been
associated with the notorious Mumbai underworld, at the nexus of gangsters, money, and politics.

According to Jehil Thakkar, Head of Media and Entertainment for (KPMG), this association stemmed from the financing needs of the industry; until 2000, by government fiat, the film industry was ineligible for bank credit, private equity, and other means of legitimate commercial financing.

"As a consequence, films were financed by ad hoc collections of investors, many of whom were from the construction and trade industries, who charged interest rates as high as 60-100 per cent.

"The industry also welcomed funds from gangsters and politicians, looking for ways to launder their ill-gotten gains, known in India as "black money", said the cable issued by the US Consulate in Mumbai, released by WikiLeaks.

After the government added the film industry to the list of legitimate industries, the corporatisation of Bollywood - and the wider entertainment industry - began," the cable said.

The WikiLeaks said the US officials also concluded that a standard movie from the Bollywood is unlikely to appeal to the Western audience.

"Although visibility for the Indian film industry has increased vis-a-vis movies like `Slumdog Millionaire`, the reality is the industry is just beginning to corporatise and understand the Western market," says the cable issued by the US Consulate in Mumbai.

"Though many players are attracted to the glamour of the industry, the standard Indian movie rarely makes a profit and is unlikely ever to appeal to Western audiences," said the cable dated February 1, 2010 and released by WikiLeaks on August 30.

"The film industry is well-aware of this trend, and seeks to find other avenues for entering the Western market and improve their own profitability within the South Asian diaspora," it said.

The US Government has neither confirmed nor denied the authenticity of these cables.

PTI

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