In midst of the dot-com frenzy, the easiest road to riches was through making a website and selling it off. When the paanwala at the corner could make his website and talk of acquisition and venture capital funding, how could Bollywood remain unaffected. All and sundry in Bollywood, from actors and spot boys, jumped into fray to make a website, thinking that as soon as they made their website, the valuation of the site will be in millions and they will turn into instant millionaires. Something like kissing a frog and turning it into a prince. At the height of this modern day gold rush, we had respected industry veterans, who carried away by hype issued statements saying if they only start a website, they will earn Rs. 30-40 million a month. We had a Pahlaj Nihalani advising producers not to sell Internet rights of movies, as they would fetch crores, a sum higher than the total of all other media channel rights. Even stars jumped into the fray. We had Jackie Shroff launch his jackieshroff.com, Kajol launch a B2B cineexplore.com, Shah Rukh launching his srkworld.com and Hrithik announce his myhrithik.com. But the roller coaster comes down after going up. When the dot-com became a dot-con, where web ventures without a business plan and revenue models went bust with international names like toysmart.com, pets.com, etc. going bust, the reality hit the Indian shores. After a initial hype and hoopla and traffic, the bollywood sites run by stars are in the same predicament as other dot-coms. Jackieshroff.com is not going anywhere, Cineexplore.com is hemorrhaging money, Srkworld.com is in deep trouble and Myhrithik.com is still on the drawing boards. Cineexplore.com a B2B portal for the movie industry, which was supposed to become the tool of choice for organizing shoots, has not even made a million rupees in revenue since its launch. With operating costs running into nearly a million a month, and its employees taking Kajol for a ride with castle-in-air projections, little wonder that it may be shutdown. The only people who made money from the venture were the technology providers and the 'advisors'. Fifty per cent partner in Shah Rukh Khan's website, the B4U Channel, is reportedly pulling out of the partnership. Bharat Shah, a major shareholder in B4U, had reportedly invested a million US dollars in the website. But things haven't been hunky dory for the channel ever since Bharat Shah was arrested on January 8. But the fact that it is trying to ease itself out of the partnership comes as yet another shock. Jackieshroff.com has nearly become Jackieshroff.org, a non-profit site. Since the costs are relatively lower, it will still go on and serve as Jackie's publicity vehicle. But it is a fact that the initial expectations have been belied. But the smartest of all may be Hrithik, who after announcing his myhrithik.com, opted to watch the mela. When he realized that the pot of gold is not there at the other end of rainbow, the venture though on, is on a backburner. That is what I like about Hrithik, he moulds himself into what the audience and market wants and not vice versa. However, sanity has not yet returned completely in Bollywood. What then would you make of the launch of poonamdhillon.com, deepaktijori.com and the plans to launch Aishwariya Rai's portal?
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