There is no single official source for film revenues due to India’s complex distribution system covering thousands of independent exhibitors.
But figures from widely respected trade portal Box Office India show a nearly 19 percent increase in earnings between 2006 and 2009.
Conversely, when the economy picked up steam in 2014 on optimism surrounding the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, movie revenues actually fell to $511 million from $525 million the year before, according to the website.
The trend evokes comparisons to the oft-quoted “Lipstick Index”, a term coined by Leonard Lauder, chairman of the US cosmetics giant Estee Lauder, in the early 2000s to explain why lipstick sales go up during a downturn.
The reasoning is that consumers apparently hold back on making big-ticket purchases during a slowdown and instead splurge on smaller indulgences.
With the exception of high-end multiplexes, ticket prices are very low in India compared to other markets, undercutting profits but making movies an accessible luxury for many film-crazy Indians.
For graphic designer Shruti Kulkarni, the cinema offers an opportunity to leave a cramped house and unwind. Downloading a film on her smartphone or laptop is simply not the same, she told AFP.
“There is something about watching a movie in a theater where you are alone, yet surrounded by hundreds of strangers and sharing the same experience. I enjoy it,” the 26-year-old said.
PICTURES BY INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/afp