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Published on : 19 Sep 2019

Bollywood Deals: Music Meets Dance

Who isn’t a fan of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge? The lens takes us to the romance set in the mountains of Switzerland to a typical wedding household in India with dance, music, drama, and emotion. Bollywood is one of the most prolific centers of film production in the world. It dramatically affects Indian society and culture from the past few decades and has influenced day to day life and culture in India from fashion trends to choreography of dance numbers, where it has been the most significant media outlet. In regards to ticket deals, Bollywood offers approximately 3.6 billion tickets yearly over the globe, contrasted with Hollywood's 2.6 billion tickets sold.

Thousands of movies are signed each year, and it is essential to understand the contractual obligations to follow in the industry. The industry consistently goes into agreements under numerous types of unfulfilled promises from oral communications, casual correspondence, and draft contracts communicated through production and frequently stay unsigned. These unsigned arrangements refer to as "soft contracts"  are sustained by a theoretical risk of legal requirement combined with some prospect of reputational risk. The Indian film industry has been social relationship driven, under which the game plans and claims were either oral or insufficiently reported, and the debates settle without going into litigation or court.

 In the last couple of years, the Indian film industry has woken up to the requirement for composed contracts and security of Intellectual Property (the IP) rights. The need emerged because the Indian film industry saw a change in outlook in its structure in the recent period. After it was agreed the "industry status" in 2000 by the Government of India, the next years saw the movies accepting subsidizing from the banks, and Indian corporates, for example, Sahara, Reliance gathering, Mahindra and foreign studios, Warner Bros., Twentieth Century Fox and so forth. The banks, Indian enterprises, and remote financial specialists demanded composed contracts with the producers and required the producers to have legal agreements with the cast also, including a proper chain of title documentation. With the expansion in commercialization openings, the abilities that delayed to sign even a one-page contract until mid-2000 began introducing nitty gritty composed arrangements to safeguard their commercialization rights, e.g., marketing rights. On the one hand, however, the development of this industry has been spectacular, then again, the breath-taking universe of Bollywood has seen a surge of cases for breach of the agreement.

In the past, legal contracts in Bollywood were pretty straightforward. The producers drafted a standard one-page contract stating the music rights for the record studios and one with the wholesaler for appropriation to the silver screen. More critical than the paper was the customary handshake, as no one was comfortable by prosecuting anybody or taking each other to court. The contented course of action crumbled with the happening of home review innovation, when there was a whirlwind of the prosecution to decide if the rights to the video were vested with the maker or the merchant. Today, things are getting more intricate with incomes from music deals, including screenings on planes and luxury ships.  Bollywood is marking a more significant number of agreements recently. Exploiting the rights of a film incorporates transforming it into a computer game, promoting garments associated with cinema, remix and copying the music, etc. The extent of the agreement can be as restricted as expected under the circumstances, while for those purchasing the rights, it is tied in with arranging terms that are as expansive based as would be prudent. For example, famous Indian actor Akshay Kumar has a clause that he won't be working on Sundays. Famous Indian actors have clauses in their legal contracts according to their ease. The famous Bollywood song Khaike Paan Banaraswala from the movie Don in 1978 claimed against the maker of the similar title, Don in 2006. The new Don had acquired the rights from Nariman Films, the makers of the first film, under a composed contract and joined the tunes in a different version.

The Bombay High Court held that the agreement between the makers of the first movie and the offended party (and Kalyanji) was an agreement of administration and along these lines, the rights were with the maker and not the authors. The maker had the legitimate and appropriate power to cut out any part or entire of the reasons in the melodies to the litigants, and in this manner, the agreement between them was substantial. As partners in the filmmaking and appropriation process go into a few composed contracts to record their legitimate and business understanding, the scholarly debate emerges out of non-execution of legally binding commitments or non-payment of sums. Under the Indian Contract Act, 1872 (the ICA), one cannot mainly implement all agreements, and courts don't allow break orders for particular execution. In Indian, the courts cannot principally uphold the individual contracts administrations.

India churns out over 1,100 films a year, more than any other country across the globe. Anupam Kher, famous Indian actor, and writer were one of the few skilled actors when he entered the film industry thirty-two (32) years ago, and that most of his 450 films did not even have scripts and with producers would have a casual talk and informally discuss the movie. They would only get paid after it was in the cinemas as there was the trust circle around the industry. However, times are changing, and actors are well informed about signing formal contracts. As investors in the filmmaking and dissemination process enter a few legally obliged contracts to record their right and business understanding, the lawfully binding question emerge out of non-execution of authoritative commitments or non-payment of the agreed amount.

On the other hand, considering the non-performance, it is hard to look for a quick court order for a particular execution of the agreement, as under Indian law, we cannot mainly implement all arrangements. Courts don't allow interval orders for specific performance, and one cannot perform the contracts for individual administrations. Henceforward, if the desired person does not give concurred dates or if he does not convey the music on time, then the only remedy available would be in the form of damages. In case the parties to such agreements have agreed that arbitration shall settle the disputes arising out of the contracts, the parties can still approach the court for specific interim measures. Section (9) of the Indian Arbitration Act, 1996 sets out specific situations where individuals may contact the court for specific of provisional measures. The court was of the opinion that this authority of the Court might be practised even before an arbitrator has been arranged, overruling the prior position that the court can exercise power if demand for mediation has been available. The judge may concede such as interim measures of protection as may appear to the judge to be fair and just. The parties seeking the judge should need to establish prima facie and a comfort zone. For instance, if a satellite merchant has secured satellite circulation rights and does not pay the maker in a timely fashion, then the filmmaker may approach the court to seek an interim injunction.

Indian Contract Act, 1872

Without the ICA, it would have been hard to exchange or carry out any business movement in the corporate world. According to the ICA, an ‘agreement’ is a statement enforceable by law.  A ‘declaration’ signifies 'a guarantee or an arrangement of guarantees' framing consideration for each other. A statement comprises of an 'offer' and its 'acknowledgement.' The target of the Contract Act is to guarantee that the rights and commitments emerging out of an agreement are acknowledged and that the remedies are made accessible to the breach of rights individuals.

Hollywood Deals

Similarly, Hollywood regularly enters into promises under any backed up legal document. Oral correspondence, virtual communication, draft agreements, etc. negotiated between makers and production often remain unsigned and carry a threat of reputational liability. Decreasing formalization in agreements lessens its enforceability, which enhances adaptability and making it flexible with the terms to change contract terms at the party’s expense of execution. Increasing formalization builds enforceability, which reduces flexibility by distinguishing an arrangement of conditions in which a nonterminating party can debilitate a legal course of action in light of a threatened withdrawal. Unformalized contracts or as known as ‘soft contracts’ are the preferred option among the industry as it achieves the same probable outcome with lower cost. Making a film requires a lot of funding, and the capital prerequisites have a tendency to be high, the chances of the movie being a success are thin, and the contracting dangers are remarkable. These variables give the premise to distinguishing the monetary justification behind Hollywood's particular contracting practices. ‘The Motion Picture Association of the United States of America reported that in 2007, major studio films had an average production and distribution costs of US Dollars106.6 million.’  It takes a long time to create a movie, from the script writing to its release at the box office. At different points, parties must make what institutional financial experts call particular investments in the undertaking project that is, investments that have a lower value or no value in any alternative use-before having any authentic information as to the similarly commercial outcome. The high risk of business failure joined with the chance of uncertainty with the constant speculation and the disaggregated structure of the film business, represents what the Hollywood press calls the ‘waiting game.’

Exposure to conventional thinking and business-law practices show that parties favor formal enforceable contracts over oral communications or other casual interchanges that are uncertainly enforceable. Hollywood seems, by all accounts, to be a particular case: parties in high-stakes exchanges routinely select moderate levels of legally binding contracts that leave the enforceability of the parties’ responsibilities misty. Lawfully enforceable agreements give the most proficient administration component at whatever point any elective instrument, from formal contract to transactional exchange, can't autonomously accomplish an unrivalled expected result net of detail and requirement costs.

Validity of Soft Agreements

In India, it is only under certain circumstances where an unsigned agreement is considered to be valid. An example of the same is the case of Union of India v. Rallia Ram [AIR 1963 SC 1685] wherein the agreement in question was an arbitration agreement which was not signed. It was assumed that a valid contract existed between the two parties, but the arbitration agreement which has been reduced to writing was not signed by either party, the same being the subject matter of the consideration. The Supreme Court, in these circumstanced held that this unsigned agreement would be considered valid. In the United States, can an unsigned agreement still be considered a contract? Yes, it can be, for the purpose of statute of limitation as held in the case of Blanchard & associates v Lupin Pharmaceuticals, Inc and Lupin, Ltd., 7th Circuit Court of Appeal, No. 17-1903 dated 20 August 2018. In this case, Judge Sykes while quoting Illinois Supreme Court confirmed that a contract would be counted as a “written” contract even if the same is unsigned. The same was to be considered for the purpose of statute of limitation. Blanchard wished to bring a claim for breach of contract, and the question was whether it survived the limitation period. It was held that the ten-year limitation period applied to the engagement letter between the parties even though it had not been signed.

Indubitably, whether or not a soft contract is valid depends on the surrounding circumstances and additional evidence.

What is Bollywood wanted to shoot a film in the United Arab Emirates?

The shooting permit in Dubai is solely provided by the Dubai Film and TV Commission (DFTC), established by Dubai Government Executive Council Decision No 16 of 2012. The DTDC is the single point of contact to obtain the permit for shooting anywhere in Dubai. It liaises with different authorties such as Dubai Police, Dubai Municipality, general Directorate of Residency and Foreigner Affairs, the Roads and Transport Authority, as well as owners of different locations in the UAE to obtain the relevant approvals before the permit to shooting films is issued. Similarly, there various types of permits that be obtained for shooting in Abu Dhabi, like the aerial permit, private location permit, offshore permit, etc. Additionally, there are regulations governing the import of film equipments in Abu dhabi where temporary import license is granted upon completing the application process.


Bollywood films have progressively broken records on the box office accumulating millions of dollars, which have additionally influenced both multinational organizations and Indian companies to invest in Bollywood films.  The Indian film industry has been social relationship-driven, under which the movies and arrangements were either oral or inadequately recorded, and the debate settles without going into mediation or litigation. It implies the absence of an appropriate chain of title documentation is promoting individual rights for the agreed parties. However, recently, the Indian film industry has woken up to the need for formal contracts to mention their powers and duties expressly.


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