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FICCI Frames 2006 Day One: The ICE age cometh, says Azim Premji

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FICCI Frames 2006 Day One: The ICE age cometh, says Azim Premji

Stewart Till, Chairman & CEO, United International Pictures and Chairman, UK Film Council, believes in engaging a crowd and he successfully managed to do that before imparting on a few lessons on 'Export and Import' while deliberating on how Indian films can enjoy more success around the world and how Hollywood films can increase their Box Office success in India. For Till, there definitely is a lot of untapped potential on both counts.

Beginning with some statistics, he said, "Indian film revenues have grown by around 31 per cent over the last five years and this is a significant increase. Nonetheless, even as Indian films are being acknowledged globally, there are still ways that Indian filmmakers can explore to increase this further." He began with what he termed as the 'Chinese Model'. "There are examples like 'Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon', which have done very well internationally," he cited. Till believed that the Chinese had taken universal themes and executed them well with high standards and this was seen in quite a few titles.

The second model he spoke on was the Korean and Japanese model, in which one certain segment can be mastered. "Dominance of a genre also works like the Japanese have done for horror genre. Not only have the enjoyed the benefits of huge sales from this but also of lucrative resale rights," said Till. Amongst the points he made in this context, another that stood out was that of crossover films. The broad point that Till made was of "creating taste for a wider range" and he believes that this serves a dual purpose.

With Indian filmmakers biting on projects that were different from the ones conventionally seen the Indian audience would subsequently be a more aware audience that would sample and appreciate other kinds of content as well. "And this can help in improving the pathetically low 5 per cent share that Hollywood movies have in the Indian market! After all, India is the fourth largest economy in the world and expected to be the third largest soon," he added.

He further said that given the changes that had come in the infrastructure seen in the increase of multiplexes and malls and the fact that India has a large base of a young population ready to spend more – the performance of Hollywood movies can be improved on the Indian Box Office. "An aware audience will consume more international titles and there are a few steps that Hollywood movie promoters and distributors can also take," Till said.

Given Indians' inclination towards high-voltage, high-action films, bringing such movies to the market here made sense he said. "English movies also need to be more aggressive in their marketing in India. We can look at the option of dubbing more films. English films should explore promotions and tie-ups around new releases," he suggested. On a more generic note, he added that English movies should take advantage of the increase in multiplexes and that more monies had to be invested in anti-piracy funding.

Till was gung-ho about the road ahead in India, and Azim Premji, Chairman and Managing Director, Wipro, mirrored the sentiment. "There was a time when India was competitive in a few industries, but now it is difficult to find an industry where we are not globally competitive, and this is a significant fundamental shift," said Premji. Another fundamental he drew attention to was that India was increasingly finding its space in global reckoning and that in the international space, the talk wasn't of India versus China, but India and China." With these remarks, Premji spoke on ICE – IT, Communication and Entertainment, and said, "Essentially, this points at convergence. Even as I have seen much more of IT than Communication and even lesser of Entertainment, I definitely see a link between the three."

Premji cited everyday examples like digital camera replacing box cameras and how technology leading to change in usage of a medium, subsequently lead to convergence of digital information. He asserted that the change had come in everyone's life knowingly or unknowingly. He said, "The coming of ICE is good news for any economy as this is a powerful growth driver. Many people no longer post letters, tickets can be delivered at home and web searches have changed almost every aspect of working life. This is reflected in the growth of IT and IT related jobs."

"IT and Entertainment have much to compliment each other. The foundation of entertainment is story telling and that will never change. But with the digitisation, the quality in which the story is told and to a large extent even the manner in which it is told can be changed," explained Premji.

Taking one medium after another, he spoke on broadcasting changing news dissemination, DVD players and even multiplexes changing movie viewing establishing the entertainment – technology interplay. "The iPod is perhaps one of the biggest examples where Apple made an impact on music. Similarly, viewing television will be changed by broadband," asserted Premji.

Technology will not only impact the face of a medium but also change the relation between the people involved – recipient and supplier. As these relations mature, the road ahead will hold new challenges – from other sectors and other markets and the likes of Azim Premji believe that India will be geared for that as well.


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