It has been a busy year for the Indian film industry's corporate players, what with floating on stock markets and signing content deals with local producers, not to mention forging partnerships with Hollywood.

Since last year's Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce (Ficci) Frames conference in Mumbai, Eros International, one of the early Bollywood debutantes on London's Alternative Investment Market (AIM), secured a further $100m credit facility from Citigroup and struck a co-financing pact with Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Meanwhile, UTV Software Communications - which is already working with three of the US studios - also floated its film production outfit on AIM and launched a World Movies channel.

Not to be outdone, recent film business entrant Network18 raised $110m for film production on AIM via The Indian Film Company and formed a joint venture with Viacom.

More recently, upstart Reliance Entertainment, owned by the massive Reliance ADA Group, attracted the attention of billionaire investor George Soros, who acquired a 3% stake in the company for $100m.

All of which is exceptional for an industry that a few years ago was dominated by family-run businesses and small production houses turning out one or two films a year.

Although not all of these players are new, they have recently transformed themselves by raising finance, forging global partnerships and acquiring local companies and product.

In short, they are moving towards the Hollywood studio model of slate financing, co-financing with independent producers and establishing multi-platform distribution networks.

It all began back in 2000 when the film sector was granted industry status by the Indian government, enabling legitimate finance to flow into town.

At the same time, the local market began to boom with rising incomes, malls and multiplexes springing up and the emergence of ancillary revenues.

And although Hindi films still have not crossed over globally to a significant extent, the Indian diaspora worldwide is growing and consuming more movies across a greater number of platforms than ever before.

Now investment is flowing into the Indian film industry from both local and overseas players. The emergence of identifiable partners with clean books, legal departments and good management has quickened the process; although in theory overseas companies can set up their own operations in India, they would likely struggle without insider knowledge of Indian consumers.

'The industry is much more transparent now than it was in the past, which gives investors confidence,' says Timmy Kandhari, executive director of PriceWaterhouseCoopers' Mumbai entertainment practice.

'It's possible to predict the cash flows coming back to you - exhibition chains can track receipts and digital cinemas can also record revenues for each show.'

The next step for these ambitious upstarts is to become global players and to some extent they are already there. These companies are keen to explain that they are not just sitting ducks for global media giants to access India's growing market but also intend to participate in English-language international productions.

For example UTV is sharing global revenues 50:50 on M Night Shyamalan's upcoming The Happening, which it co-financed with Fox. It is also co-financing two films with Sony and Overbrook Entertainment and recently had Disney invest $200m to double its stake in the company.

'With the Disney money coming in, we're looking at what we need to become a global player,' says UTV CFO Roma Patel. 'We're looking at all parts of the chain to see what makes sense and where we can add value.'

The inevitable downside to a fast-expanding industry is that production budgets and star salaries are starting to balloon. The entrance of deep-pocketed players all competing to fill their pipelines means that content does not come cheap.

While budgets were still low a few years back, current blockbusters such as Jodhaa Akbar come in at around $10m. Smaller producers find it difficult to stay in the game.

'There's too much money chasing limited talent,' says Sandeep Bhargava, CEO of Network18's film outfit Studio 18. 'Big actors have four or five corporates all chasing them and they're making hay while the sun is shining. At current levels and with the market growing it's still possible to recoup. The question is whether costs will continue going up to the level where they stop making sense.'

Eros International COO and commercial director Jyoti Deshpande believes that everyone is benefiting from the market's growth. 'All markets, when they're in the consolidation phase, have certain structural changes and smaller players are weeded out,' she says.

'Having said that, the Indian market has traditionally been more about sales than distribution. Producers sold off their rights and talent just took a fee. Now everyone is sharing the risk and the returns - talent is taking residuals and producers are co-financing with us and sharing the risk of distribution.'

Meanwhile, a potential stumbling block for new entrants from other sectors, such as Reliance, is that deep pockets are not always enough in a business that is even more star- and relationship-driven than Hollywood.

Soon after Bollywood gained industry status, several large groups, including Tata and AV Birla, tried investing in film without much success. Neither is it easy to forge overseas partnerships - Patel says that UTV was in talks with the US studios for three years before doing any deals.

But those Indian players with both money and connections will be ideally placed to take advantage of the changes in the international film market as they are tech-savvy and are re-building the studio model from scratch. All the companies mentioned above are structuring their film empires around content creation and distribution across a wide range of both traditional and new media platforms.

'Indian companies are looking towards the future and have strong ties to the technology sector and new distribution models,' says PwC's Kandhari.

'We do have problems in the Indian market - the broadband backbone is not there yet - but then we also have emerging mobile platforms. Indian companies are taking their lead from the US studios, but it could be that they're better equipped to adjust.'