When the likes of Mahesh Bhatt, Vishesh Films; Govind Nihalani, Udbhav Dreamzone; Bobby Bedi, MD, Kaleidoscope; Manmohan Shetty, Chairman, Adlabs Films; and Shantonu Aditya, CEO, Sahara One, assemble at a place, it is natural to see the crowds flock there. The session on 'Independent Filmmakers Vs Studio' did not disappoint. .
The session was moderated by the witty and sensible Kaveree Bamzai, Executive Editor, India Today. She took off from the latest Oscar Awards in Hollywood, where several independent filmmakers stole the limelight. Taking the session forward, she returned to the Indian scenario, tracing the growth of Indian film studios from being mere shoot venues - to becoming movie sellers with facilities to streamline production, to distributing movies. .
Analysing the strengths and weaknesses of independent filmmakers and the studio system, Govind Nihalini said, "A studio system means, well calculated budget, very well calculated viability, proper assistance, planning of films in advance, and supported by the superstars, which ensure that there are ensured returns." On the issue of creativity, he added, "All the independent film-makers put blame on studios that they entirely cut the creative element while processing the film, so they don't believe in innovation." .
He asked the panelists and the audience 'what exactly should go in a movie', and answered it soon after, "Creativity of ideas. The creativity has to be given same weight as the money invested in the film." .
As the debate progressed, it veered down to a sub-debate on which of two is important - creativity or marketing? .
On being asked why the whole discussion was taking place when even independent filmmakers like Karan Johar and Kunal Kohli had set up huge studios, Sahara One's Aditya replied, "The only difference is that these studios or companies will market and distribute only the movies made by themselves and not the third party movies, the way we do." .
Reflecting on the challenges of retaining creativity while producing several movies a year, Mahesh Bhatt asked, "Where will the creativity come from when we are asked to make 12 movies a year? Everybody has his limits, even we, directors, have a limitation of ideas." He asked, "If we will have no money to direct the movie independently, from where will we fund our creations?" The accusations seemed to be directed at the studios for their undue demands. .
But, how does a movie marketer decide on where to put his money? Manmohan Shetty laughed, "It exists everywhere that a movie has to go to a studio to be sold, so why is there so much of discussion here? Studios and filmmakers can, in fact, complement each other because studios have money and they need more and more films to market, so it can benefit the filmmaker with his funds." .
Deviating from the core discussion a wee bit, we asked Bedi of Kaleidoscope how the film co-production treaty (Indo-UK) would help the industry and filmmakers. He replied, "Though we'll also benefit from the treaty, the major benefit will be to UK only." .
This kind of debate is more to seek out a middle path and discover synergies than to arrive at a one-sided judgment. And that objective was achieved with the discussion concluding on the note that the responsibility was as much on studios as it was on independent filmmakers, to cordially engage in the business of making and selling movies. The marriage of money and creativity, or should we say scale and creativity, has to go on.