While there are shortcomings that the film industry has to combat, popular films like Munnabhai, Rang de Basanti, Don and Krrish have changed the experience of watching films in the recent times.
While Bollywood continues to thrive successfully from corporatisation, co-productions, marketing alliances, sequels and remakes, regional cinema is still lagging despite its tremendous potential. Even as the film industry is dominated by Bollywood and South Indian cinema to some extent, regional films have remained out of the limelight.
On numerous occasions, the likes of Shekhar Kapur and Subhash Ghai have reiterated the need to work on regional cinema. “There is Bollywood and there is some bit of South, but what about our diverse culture that is seen in the North-eastern and Eastern markets, other Northern markets? There is so much more to tap there and showcase,” Ghai has pointed out.
While that is a shortcoming that the film industry has to combat, popular films like Munnabhai, Rang de Basanti, Don and Krrish have changed the experience of watching films in recent the times. The sheer difference in the themes of these movies indicates the Gen-Next of movie making. Observes Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, “The distribution platforms have changed in the country and that has helped new age story lines to develop and deliver.”
With the changes that the sector is seeing, marketing has become a cerebral part of film production with hits like Krissh, Don, Rang De Basanti and Dhoom 2 among others achieving huge success through not just their storyline and star cast, but also in the way they were marketed. These films were publicised and gained mass popularity through immense outdoor publicity, campaigns and many modes of marketing tie-ups. The recently released Black Friday had close to six media partners—the leading Mumbai publishing group Mid-Day Multimedia not only produced the film but it became one of the most dominant mediums for its publicity as well.
But can good marketing tie-ups alone make a movie sell. FilmKraft producer and director Rakesh Roshan does not feel so as he strongly believes that without a saleable content no amount of marketing can make a film a hit. “Tie-ups and partnerships allow you to make more noise around a movie. These are tried and tested methods internationally and India is also learning how to adopt these best practices seamlessly with the movie. All said and done, if you’ve not made a good movie, a lot of these efforts can go waste as well,” warns Roshan, who has many success stories to his credit.
Another key emerging trend is co-production. While Sony Pictures roped in Sanjay Leela Bhansali for a movie in the past, one of the most noticed recent co-production alliances was that of UTV entering into an alliance with America’s Fox Searchlight for Mira Nair’s latest film The Namesake. “We believe major American studios are looking at tie-ups with Bollywood for co-producing Indian films,” says UTV chief Ronnie Screwvala.
UTV and Fox Searchlight have also reported come together recently for the global release of the film I Think I Love My Wife with a budget of $14 million. UTV’s partnerships with top global media majors besides Fox, such as Sony and Disney, are also part of its strategy.
With the coming in of new media and digital technology, low-budget films are also becoming an option for the market.
Another fast emerging trend is the growth of the DVD market as more and more people prefer to watch home videos. But this also causes heartburns to the industry, going by the rampant piracy prevalent in the country.
Yet another trend is the increasing number of sequels. A lot of older successes are revisited, from the recent past as well as from history. Sequels like Munnabhai, Krissh, Hera Pheri, and Dhoom 2 did rather well, Lage Raho Munnabhai became a runaway successes, and remakes of older popular Hindi films like Don and Umrao Jaan created a new benchmark for success. Ideas of social change and social messages were explored in films like Rang de Basanti and Munnabhai.
Most people who have been watching the trends in Bollywood and mainstream cinema are sensing a change in the tastes and sensibilities of the audiences. As films like Rang De Basanti, Omkara, Guru, Black Friday and Munnabhai have become a part of the mainstream, it is evident that experiments in script-writing, treatment and presentation are also changing from the traditional Yashraj love story that dominated Bollywood in the 90s.
Ad agencies too are taking initiatives to find out more about these trends. Euro RSCG conducted a ‘prosumer’ survey last June, for instance, and had its ‘predictameter’ providing insights into various categories. It attempted to measure the influence of marketing and publicity on the fate of a film, where it based its findings on a research conducted in Mumbai, Delhi, Lucknow and Bangalore. The predictameter indicated that the Munnabhai sequel would do extremely well, followed by Don and Dhoom.
The FICCI-PWC report that would be released on the opening day of Frames 2007 has forecast that the filmed entertainment category, with a current size of Rs 85 billion, aided by the advancement of technologies like digital cinema halls, would reach Rs 175 billion by 2011 with a CAGR of 16 per cent. The corporatisation of the industry and the growing home video section will play a major role in this growth, says the report.
Frames 2007 will be exploring some of the emerging trends in this sector. Topics that will come under the scanner this year would range from popular cinema, digital technology entering films, to the kind of business that cinema has become today.