T he cardboard romances of Bombay studios don’t always end well. The last one is not likely to cause tears in the cottages. The story of the failed marriage between Sony, a power in Hollywood, and Zee, pillar of Bollywood, will only sadden the Indian’s shareholders, who see a historic chance to save their economies slipping away.
Sony announced this Monday, January 22 that it was abandoning its plan to acquire the majority of Zee. This would have created a key player in the land of lovers of languid musicals.
Subhash Chandra, 73, the founder of the group, is in serious financial difficulty, and his son, Punit Goenka, current CEO of Zee, is banned from managing the group by the Indian stock exchange authorities. He is accused of having embezzled 24 million dollars (22 million euros), but since he won the appeal, he is clinging to his chair. This stubbornness, combined with very disappointing results and a history of exorbitant rights on cricket matches, convinced Sony to throw in the towel.
Too bad for the Japanese, which has become one of Hollywood’s majors and which has made India one of its development priorities. All the Californian giants in the sector dream of settling in this Eldorado. A dream factory capable of producing 1,500 films per year, twice as many as the Americans and ten times more than the French. Not to mention the countless television channels in the country. The absolute star of the moment, actor and producer Shah Rukh Khan, has released three successful films in 2023 alone.
But Indian family business practices and the costs of developing streaming channels have overcome Hollywood’s appetites. Everyone folds the canvas. Disney, which recovered the Star India group in 2020 by purchasing Fox, should finally sell the majority of its subsidiary to Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance conglomerate. The combination of the two groups would create a heavyweight with 40% of the country’s television audiences. The marriage between Zee and Sony would have been a strong competitor. But the fate that Indian cinema loves to summon decided to separate the two lovers before the end of the film.