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India Today Tamil ICONS panel: Chennai can be the global film capital

18-July-2005
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India Today Tamil ICONS panel: Chennai can be the global film capital

India Today Tamil is in its 15th year, and its property, India Today Council on News and Society (ICONS), held its third event on July 16 with a panel discussion on ‘Making Chennai the Global Film Capital’ at Chennai. Raj TV is to telecast the event on July 31.

Among the panelists were actor and film maker Kamal Haasan; K R Subramaniam of Prasad Labs; V Chandrashekar, Chairman, Pentamedia Graphics; and Kiran Reddy, Managing Director, Satyam Cinemas. After a near 90-minute discussion, the conclusion was that while Chennai could well be the next global film capital, there remained several issues that needed to be addressed.

Delivering the welcome address, Prabhu Chawla, Group Editor, India Today, wondered, “Why is it that Tamil Nadu is not yet the global capital for film, when South India as a region produces the largest number of dreams?” That set the tone for reasons to be put forth by panelists.

Kamal Haasan reasoned, “What companies like Pentamedia and Prasad have done has given us solid foundations to take our cinema global. But getting together as an industry will have to happen. I enviously see Mumbai doing this.”

Lack of training and the tendency to opt for quick fix solutions without patenting them for the future were cited as reasons that dogged the emergence of Chennai as a global film capital. Musician Yuvan Shankar Raja mentioned that the gross commercialisation and sticking to formula films culture was another factor.

Theodore Bhaskaran, former Post Master General, and film critic and columnist, lent another perspective. He said, “First, we should think about making India the nation-capital for films. Cinema has been recognised as an industry only after 80 years. Issues like bureaucratic hurdles and overlapping jurisdictions still continue to dog the industry.”

Though well-known film director Steven Spielberg wanted to shoot in India, he had to shoot in Sri Lanka for various reasons, Bhaskaran pointed out.

An otherwise silent Saran too stood up for Tamil Cinema. The film director said, “There is a clear line between world cinema and our cinema. We can dedicate our professionals for world cinema. They are among the best in the world. But we should not feel guilty about our cinema.”

Agreeing wit him, Kamal Haasan said, “We don’t play with the international competition. So it’s only natural that we are not recognised worldwide. But even then, our films have been doing well internationally, too, thanks to the large Tamil population living overseas.”

The need for vertical integration with participation across the chain was agreed upon by all speakers. Chandrashekar of Pentamedia said that while in other industries one had competition, in cinema one had enemies. A united front for purpose of representation was another factor all present agreed put on the ‘to do’ list.

Kiran Reddy extolled the need for equity participation. He said, “Lack of adequate finances in an organised manner inhibits creativity. People are very creative, but financial constraints exist. Financing should encourage creativity but in the case of debt financing, it inhibits creativity.”

The first and biggest round of applause was when Kamal Haasan countered moderator Prabhu Chawla’s point that the Tamil film industry lacked ambassadors (like Mumbai had), starting on a list with Tamil filmdom’s superstar Rajnikant.

The other panelists included cinematographers Ravi K Chandran and Fauzia, and Kaliappan, HR Head of Indian Bank. The session came to a close on an optimistic note, concluding that Chennai is on its way to becoming the next global film capital.

On the event, Shankar B, Vice-President, Sales & Marketing, Raj TV, said, “With Chennai’s exceptional talent in the film industry, no other city that could have played host to such a topic.” The event is to go on air on television partner Raj TV on July 31, at 10:30 PM. And the channel is optimistic that Tamil viewers will enjoy watching the star studded panel discussing its favorite topic -- cinema.

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