CII’s two-day conference on ‘India - The Big Picture’ opened in Goa on Wednesday on the eve of the 36th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) with some enthusiastic response from industry professionals.
The inaugural session saw Vijay Hegde, Chairman, CII Goa Council and Managing Director, Pyramid Finance Ltd, and Goa Chief Minister Pratapsingh Raoji Rane praise CII for organising this conference. Rane assured that his Ministry would do all that was possible to help Indian Cinema reach places.
Afzal Aman, Joint Secretary, I&B Ministry, said that it was exciting times for the Indian film industry as it was getting more corporatised and more professional. “Also our films are getting in the non-traditional international markets,” he added.
The special address was delivered by Pakistani actress and film director, Samina Peerzada. In a very forthright manner she pointed out how the Indian film industry was getting into the trap of not being able to make movies on newer subjects appealing to all and that mindless cinema was what was being churned out of the industry currently. She invited the Indian industry to make films in Pakistan and said that the neighbouring industry, too, was more than keen to get its kind of movies to India.
Bobby Bedi, Chairman, CII National Entertainment Committee, deliberated on the theme of the conference. He said, “This year the conference will be delving on two broad aspects of the kind of films India should be making and the second one being on the ways to sell these films. This is a creative theme which would answer the why and how questions.”
The morning’s first Plenary session on ‘Assorted platter – It’s all about getting the recipe right’ was indeed a soul searching one. It was the perfect opening session, which made Indian cinema makers delve on what kind of cinema should India be making. The panelists included Manmohan Shetty, Chairman & MD, Adlabs Films Ltd, John Mathew, Film Director, Nagesh Kukunoor, Director/Actor and Columbia’s Uday Singh.
Mathew said that today the industry was at a very good position because of finances, but the difference between mainstream and parallel cinema was getting blurred. “The main point of concern is that there is a dearth of good film writers. There is a crying need for us to set up a body to encourage film writing,” he stressed.
Touching upon the topic of content and budget Kukunoor said, “Budgets obviously drive films and this places a burden to see that it delivers higher returns on the investments made on it. And to be able to do that on a continuous basis, one would need to answer a million dollar question of content. Our films predominantly target only a certain type of an audience and the need is to the increase the audience and be able to play in a larger playing field. Make films appealing to larger markets.”
Singh not only stressed on the issue of distribution, but said that international studios were showing interest and were coming to the India and were making films here. The reason being that globally audiences are ready to accept good cinema from anywhere in the world. It was the content that eventually shaped a movie, he maintained.
He further said, thus is was important to find the right story, find the right story teller and make a film for which we are not apologetic about. Quoting examples of movies like ‘Black’ and ‘Titanic’, he said, “The idea is also to market the movie well, spend time in making it right and find its audience. The success of ‘Black’ is just and indicator of things to come, our talent is second to none and we should be able to make the most of the spotlight. India is making great cinema and it’s a great opportunity to take it to newer markets.”
As the last speaker of the first session, Shetty said, “We have seen in the last four years, what multiplexes have done to Indian cinema and though these give an opportunity for newer filmmakers to make movies but there can’t be a movie as a multiplex only movie. Audiences will see only what they want to see and thus there is a need to get good creative talent working.”
The second Plenary session saw Quentin Staes-Polet, Director, Digital Media, Asia Pacific, IBM Business Consulting Services, speak on ‘Digital Media – A new era in production and distribution.’ He said that the Indian media industry was a billion-dollar industry for IBM.
“The onus of transformation to digital is upon us and we should be ready for the threats and the opportunities it will bring along. As India has just under 0.5 per cent of broadband penetration, one can expect more action from here. Product placement will be the key to move ahead and thus move to the newer technologies like the iPod, Web, TiVO and so on.”
He made a very interesting point by saying that even before a movie was released, other avenues like online games, mobile games, etc, should be tapped, which would act as additional revenue model.