ExploringBollywood-themed Hospitality

By Swarnendu Biswas

It doesn’t deserve a mention that Bollywood and cricket are two of the important unifying factors in India’s diversified cultural cosmos. The appeal of many of the Bollywood’s evergreen popular movies, some of its iconic and popular stars, some of its evergreen songs and dialogues is not only limited to India, but is very much evident among the vast swathes of NRIs spread across the globe.

 So it is about time our hospitality industry explores more proactively the not only pan-Indian but even international appeal of Bollywood by coming up with Bollywood-themed hotels and resorts. At the very outset, I want to affirm that it is not a novel idea in our country; India already has at least one hospitality property built on similar if not exactly on the same lines.

The Silvertips Munnar, located at the heart of Munnar, a scenic hill station in Kerala, is a movie-themed resort. It stands on the grounds of the first full-fledged cinema hall in Munnar; built during the British era in the early 1900s.

Though a movie-themed resort is much more generic in character and is not exactly the same as a Bollywood-themed hotel or resort, but the given property can easily act as an inspiration to many enterprising hoteliers thinking of cashing in on the perennial popularity of Bollywood to garner lucrative revenues.    

According to the The Silvertips Munnar’s website, “When you walk-in, you are transported to a simulated movie-themed atmosphere; the regal lobby celebrates the historic Hindi movie, Mughal-e-Azam, the decor and props in the coffee shop celebrate, ‘Sound of Music’. When you walk to the restaurant, ‘Mayabazar’, the decor and interiors of the famed mythological movie of the 60s beckons you.”

Here it deserves a mention that one of the restaurants of the resort named Mayabazar, is based and themed on a 1957 mythological Telugu film. The film is considered as one of the important classics of Indian cinema. The restaurant’s interiors, the furnishings, furniture, the colour coordinates and the overall effect are a replica of the opulent setting of a palace in the movie.

But the need is to have many more Bollywood-themed hotels and resorts, preferably each refreshingly different from the other in terms of décor, ambience and focus. They can emphasise on some special feature/s of Bollywood or on some iconic stars of our favourite Mumbai film industry.

The Two Approaches

There are various ways to develop a Bollywood-themed hospitality property.  One of them is to have rooms dedicated to iconic Bollywood personalities like Madhuri Dixit, Madhubala, Amitabh Bachchan, Dev Anand, Raj Kapoor, RD Burman, Lata Mangeshkar, etc., who are/were not merely immensely popular in their prime time, but are recognised as legends with their mass appeal transcending across generations. 

In this approach, every room of the hospitality property can be dedicated to a given iconic Bollywood personality. Each of the room could have life size posters, dialogues, silver screen images, and uncommon facts, statistics and memorabilia associated with a given iconic Bollywood personality. Furthermore, each room should have the provision (not mandatory; only provision) of playing movies/songs associated with the given iconic Bollywood personality 24/7, through a plasma television. 

If one takes this route, the number of the rooms of the hotel or the resort (or retreat for that matter) shouldn’t be more than 20-25 for there are not many iconic personalities in Bollywood (this is true for every film industry; the iconic personalities in every sphere of life are extremely few and far between). 

Another approach can have each of the room of the property dedicated to an immensely famous film of Bollywood. For example, if the property is a four-storied one, the ground floor can be dedicated to some immensely famous films of the 40s and earlier, the first storey could be dedicated to some immensely famous films of the 50s, the second storey can be dedicated to some immensely famous films of the 60s, the third storey can be dedicated to some immensely famous films of the 70s(the decade when the creative excellence at Bollywood was perhaps at its peak). The fourth storey can be dedicated to the immensely famous films of the 80s to the present day; the era where mediocrity in Bollywood is more prevalent than class.

I have chosen the word famous instead of popular, for there are quite a few iconic and world renowned films in Bollywood, which were super flops at the time of their release.

Of course, as is evident, this second suggested model can be more suitable for a multistoried leisure hotel comprising more than 100 rooms. Here each room of the hotel can have posters, screen images and dialogues, etc. associated with a given immensely famous film. Furthermore, each room should have a plasma television, with the provision of playing movies/songs of the given film and other famous films and their songs from the same era 24/7. 

“It would be truly attractive if rooms & suites of hospitality properties could be named after Bollywood actors and actresses and the interiors of the rooms and suites are designed accordingly. We are talking about an expensive project here as everything created will be ideally themed around Bollywood. Hence the pricing of this hospitality property would have to be very sensible,” opined Soraya Rebello, the Vice-President, —Strategic Operations, Jakson Hospitality (P) Ltd.

“I personally believe that it has to be more of a ‘Bollywood-themed Park Resort’ rather than just a hotel/resort. The park resort should have all sorts of Bollywood themes, and should showcase the journey of the evolution of Bollywood. Weekly or monthly events having celebrity hosts/guests would be most important,” pointed out Soraya.

 “In these types of properties, packages should vary depending upon the room type & the F&B inclusions. Celebrity testimonials and their presence will also be a very crucial marketing tool,” she asserted.

Food, Beverage and Bollywood

These proposed hospitality properties can also house restaurants themed on Bollywood, where Bollywood can be represented through the restaurant’s ambience and décor. Of course, such restaurants should play hit Bollywood numbers during their operational hours. Preferably, in the morning and noon, they can play peppy Bollywood numbers, in the evening and twilight they can play serious, romantic numbers from the Mumbai film industry, and in the night they can play sensual or ‘naughty’ songs from Bollywood. The culinary focus of such restaurants should preferably be Indian cuisine or more specifically, Mumbai street cuisine, which this writer feels would gel with the theme of those restaurants.

“Starting a Bollywood-themed restaurant within a hospitality property certainly has its own advantages, as Bollywood celebs come with a huge fan following. Linking any restaurant either to Bollywood or to a Bollywood celebrity certainly helps create a buzz and facilitates to make the restaurant to become the talk of the town,” opined Vishal Kamat, the Director of Kamat Group.

“The popularity of the Bollywood celebrities can positively impact the entire image of the restaurant. However, there are not many restaurants/ hotels who have adopted this concept, perhaps owing to constant changes in the Bollywood trends. For a restaurant like this to stay in the market, they need to adapt to constant changes in the Bollywood industry to keep the buzz alive,” observed Kamat.

The Bollywood-themed restaurant can also extend the theme to its F&B offerings. For example, what about a cake with edible images of Sholay’s iconic characters, or cutlery showing images of the pivotal characters of 3 Idiots?  Kamat however felt that though F&B offerings based on famous Bollywood stars can be fascinating at first but it may not work in the long-term.

The Need for Interaction

However, for Bollywood-themed hospitality properties, it would be greatly helpful towards strengthening the theme and thereby garnering more popularity and footfall for those properties, if these hospitality properties ensure the visit of Bollywood celebrities of present and previous generation/s from time to time(in exchange for a fee of course), say once in a month, at their properties. The Bollywood celebrities should preferably mingle with the guests and spend some hours with them; while sharing their interesting career experiences, some anecdotes, etc

It would be profitable if the dates of the arrival of the Bollywood celebrities to the hospitality properties are not announced beforehand, but the guests and potential guests are supplied with the knowledge that on any one day of a given month, a given Bollywood celebrity would come and spend time with the guests. The ‘Celebrity of the Month’ however, should ideally be announced and promoted beforehand to generate more interest among her/his fan following, thus augmenting the potential of more footfalls to those hospitality properties.

Without the attraction of personal interaction of Bollywood celebrities with guests, the additional benefit or the USP of the Bollywood-themed hospitality properties may have the possibility of ebbing away in the long-run. The Bollywood-themed hospitality properties may continue to earn impressive revenues if they offer personalised service, comprehensive state-of-the-art facilities (in terms of rooms, MICE infrastructure, spa, etc.) and great food & beverage, but the ‘additional marketing edge’ of cashing in on the popularity of Bollywood, its evergreen films and iconic artists would decline over the course of time if the time to time direct interaction between the stars and the guests are not being maintained by the Bollywood-themed properties concerned.

In-house Theatre

Moreover, ideally Bollywood-themed hotels and resorts should also have an in-house movie theatre, playing renowned Bollywood movies on a regular basis. The viewing of the movies can be included in the guests’ package to attract more guests to these proposed properties. “An in-house movie theatre would also be an added advantage in Bollywood-themed hotels and resorts. The opening shows of new movie launches with the celebrity actor being part of the audience can be a savvy option to explore,” Soraya proffered.

But it should be noted that for having an in-house movie theatre, the concerned hotels and resorts would be needed to be built across a significantly big real estate.



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