Andhadhun is highest-rated 2018 Indian film on IMDb

Founder-CEO Col Needham reveals top 10 Indian films of the year; says focus will be on regional cinema

Updated - December 13, 2018 11:44 am IST

Published - December 13, 2018 12:42 am IST -

The cast is led by Ayushmann Khurrana and Tabu.

The cast is led by Ayushmann Khurrana and Tabu.

India is now the second biggest market for IMDb, prompting the founder and CEO of the film database website, Col Needham, to make his maiden visit to the country. Speaking with The Hindu in Mumbai on Wednesday, Mr. Needham expressed his desire to focus on Indian users and announced a list of top 10 Indian films of 2018.

Sriram Raghavan’s thriller Andhadhun emerged as the most popular film as per user ratings in the year, followed by Tamil films Ratsasan and 96, bilingual Telugu-Tamil biographical drama Mahanati and Amit Sharma’s Badhaai Ho .

Beyond Bollywood

Observing a spurt in Indian users in the last two years, Mr. Needham said his company, which was founded in 1996, decided to launch India-focused lists of trending and most anticipated films. In the process, they discovered the popularity of regional cinema. “So we were able to launch top 50 lists for Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam,” he said.

Along with Indian television series, IMDb plans to concentrate on films beyond Bollywood. “I can’t think of another country where [films are] so vibrant and cross-cultural. You can’t have just one list of the best movies [here], you need to have them for different regions,” Mr. Needham said.

As the number of IMDb users grows in India, Mr. Needham is hopeful that desi content and talent will find a wider international audience. “We are now at the point where we have more than 2,00,000 pages of films, TV, celebrity and filmmakers for IMDb [in India] and that number is growing. Those pages are visited by people from 190 countries. Seventy per cent of the page views are in India, but 30% are in other countries,” he said. “[Since] India is now number two in terms of users, it means that the audience within India is basically having an influence throughout the world.”

Hiring and casting

India produces the highest number of films in the world every year, which could make documentation a daunting task. What is the company’s process of data accumulation and authentication? According to Mr. Needham, a significant portion of data is contributed by registered users who are fans of certain films, shows or genres. “Film professionals are aware that their audience is on IMDb so ensure that their pages are updated and accurate,” he said. “What we have found from within the U.S. is that people in the entertainment industry increasingly use IMDbPro to make hiring decisions and casting decisions.”

Mr. Needham says Robert Pattinson was discovered and cast for the role of Edward Cullen in Twilight (2008) through IMDbPro. “I had the honour of chatting with Rob about that, a few years ago,” he recalled.

But is the website as influential in India? “I think it’s early days for me to comment on that,” he said. “We had an industry VIP cocktail reception, where I met Sriram Raghavan, who said that he has been an IMDb user for a long time,” said Mr. Needham, adding that its an indicator of Indian film professionals using the website to discover talent and network.

Going forward, the focus for Mr. Needham would be to help films find a new audience and vice versa, which will be executed through the top ten lists, professional and customer reviews, and updated trailers. “We can help people decide what’s right for them to watch next,” he said.

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