Steven Fernandes spoke to ace tennis player-turned-film producer Ashok Amritraj on the sidelines of CII’s seminar, ‘India: The Big Picture’ whose theme was ‘Indian entertainment: The Strategy for Upward Spiral’.
Amritraj said that India was poised to make an impact on the global arena. He said that the current IFFI and the market section was a good start, but required a lot more effort in building the brand across the globe. It is imperative that large contingents, not only from the media powerhouses of the US and UK, but from other parts of Western Europe, Japan, Australia, etc visit the festival. Also Indian producers, production houses and investors need to participate in larger numbers and enthusiastically at festivals and other industry trade fairs. Amritraj was of the opinion that attendance at festivals broadened one’s creative horizon and also kept one in touch with global trends and developments.
Another issue he stressed on was that for Indian films to be truly appealing to an international audience what was absolutely essential was giving attention to scriptwriting and bring about a change from the rigid dance-song formats that distract the film from the main storyline. Indian filmmakers need to have a keener understanding of western sensibilities and mindsets. Amritraj said emotions and not large sets or scores of dancers would get a film an Oscar or other international recognitions. Incidentally Amritraj is a member of the American Motion Picture Academy’s foreign language committee.
Amritraj says that a lot more effort needs to be channelised into building interaction between the creative and commercial sectors of entertainment. Asked what he personally expected out of the IFFI and the Film Bazar, he informed that he has brought five of his films to the festival, but expects no serious commercial transaction. He was of the opinion though that exhibiting his films could have tangible results at a later date. He is also talking to the Government of Goa for initiatives in the entertainment sector, though it was very early to provide any specific details.
Amritraj and his organisations were always in search of talent and opportunities. “I work with idea guys,” he said, explaining how his team examines various tools of entertainment including movies, video games, animation, mobile phone software and comic books. Amritraj is open to collaboration with Indian talent in sectors like films, animation, etc. But, he mentioned that there was yet a long way to go when it comes to efficiently and productively structuring and channelising talent. “It is unfortunate that in India talent, skill and creativity exist in abundance, but is not harnessed constructively,” he lamented. Incidentally Amritraj is producing a film that has a 50 per cent production in India. This is a mainstream film with an Indian female lead.