As the curtains came down on the three-day Ficci-Frames 2007 on Wednesday at the Renaissance Hotel in Mumbai, it was Abhishekh Bachchan who walked onto the stage to do the formal talking. The actor, who was floored with everyone’s attention, said Frames is a forum through which the Indian film industry get the potential to succeed.
“The media and entertainment industry is growing very fast in the country and I hope it continues to grow at this rate. The domestic film industry is the largest churner in the world, and practically all the films that have been produced in the past one year have been released by corporates. Visual effects have also come into the scene tremendously, and the top films last year have crossed Rs 3000 and increased the box office revenue by 21 percent,” the actor said.
Bachchan also expressed his views about the need for the government to take sterner action against piracy. “For celebrities to just make a statement, pleading people to stop using pirated content is not enough,” he said.
Ficci secretary-general Amit Mitra, who moderated the valedictory session, in the late evening on the last day of the Ficci-Frames 2007 just before the ‘Living Legends in the Entertainment Industry Award’ was presented to Rekha and Kamal Hasan, had various other eminent speakers.
Ficci’s films division chairman Yash Chopra, and Ficci president Habil Khorakhiwala, UTV founder chairman Ronnie Screwvala, Amit Khanna of Reliance, Kunal Dasgupta of SET India, Frank Dangeard of Thomson, and Manmohan Shetty were all present at the occasion.
Khorakhiwala, who was the first speaker, put his views forward about the event that had gone by. “This is a forum through which a lot of creative minds have come together. It also leads to a lot of national and international partnerships, and from the one-on-one meetings that have been taking place at the venue this time I think some great opportunities have been tapped. I think that there are some important points that have emerged from this forum,” Screwvala said, adding one of these is the increase in consumer demand. Everyone has realised that the consumer has become more demanding and that the choices that are available to the consumer are very different. The consumer has changed considerably.
“Another important point that has emerged is about India going global. With Indian companies making it abroad and taking their business on an international level, there is a global process that all of us are met with. There has been a need for global content to be produced,” said Khorakhiwala.
Thomson CEO Frank Dangeard spoke about the issues of piracy that have multiplied in this time and age of convergence and broadband, and about the inevitability of this problem which he felt goes almost hand-in-hand with digital technology. “With convergence, broadband and digital technology, piracy has become very easy. I think some serious steps need to be taken. In this scenario, content security is very difficult and it is something that needs to be addressed to,” he said.
Reeds France chief executive Paul Zilch announced that India was going to be the partner country for Mipcom 2007 that will be held in October. “I think the Ficci-Frames provided some great conferences and networking opportunities,” said Zilch.
Givning the closing address, the moderator said, “The industry is seeing a lot of growth today. There is also the need and growth in the coming years for more segmentation. It is the children and the youth that are most demanding as consumers today, and it is this segment that drives our current consumerism. As there are more specialist channels to meet this demand, the pay revenue percent that comes in through subscribed channels is what will eventually work,” he said.
There was dissatisfaction expressed from the audience about the lack of attention on the print sector. Screwvala said he felt the print was a dynamic medium and was seeing some radical developments as well. “There are various regional papers going national and family businesses growing considerably in the market today. I think there is a huge expansion in this sector. Even magazines, which were once not part of the mainstream, are growing tremendously,” he said.
Screwvala went onto speak about films, co-production and the new media. “We are having a greater reach in terms of distribution of films because of multiplexes we are having a higher reach. There is also the international audience that we are being able to reach,” he said.
Screwvala said “In terms of new media opportunities, there is much more origination here. Earlier most of the new media industry was based on out-sourcing. Today things have changed. I think one of the greatest challenges of the times for us is that the entertainment industry is still not listed as an industry and given the status of the same. During the budget, there is very little mention of it from the finance minister. I think that needs to change.
Also, as an industry, Screwvala felt that there is a lack of research. “There is very little data and statistics being worked on about the entertainment and media industry. There needs to be more research and understanding about the industry as a whole,” he concluded.
Following the valedictory session actors Rekha and Kamal Hasan were honoured.