Speaking at the fifth edition of CII’s Big Picture Summit, Col. Rajyavardhan Rathore, Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting, announced that every film that will be representing India at film festivals will be supported with a grant of Rs 1 crore each. “It is just not entertainment but also promoting our culture and soft power projection,” Rathore said.
The minister pointed out that Indians have made a phenomenal contribution to world cinema. “Most of the Hollywood films have animation and visual effects done by Indians,” he said. Shifting his focus towards films made in India, he particularly commended the production quality of SS Rajamouli’s Bahubali stating that Indians should be proud of the fact that such a movie was made in India.
On the controversial subject of film censorship, Rathore said that the Shyam Benegal Committee has been provided with the widest possible mandate to bring about changes in the way films are reviewed. “We will reduce the certification process to as less use of scissors as possible,” Rathore assured as he asserted that the government was in favour of reducing restrictions.
However, he maintained that the constitutional restrictions would have to be taken into account as what cannot be said off-camera cannot be repeated on-camera either. Moreover, citing India’s demographic dividend, Rathore opined that skill creation can achieve “mindboggling” levels in the country.
Encouraging Indians to become world leaders in filmmaking, he prophesised that very soon every film made in the world will have some Indian touch. “When you walk on the streets in France, most of the advertisements that you see are of Indian companies,” he said referring to India’s increasing international influence.
Education & Training
Given the need to create a skilled workforce, Rathore mentioned the necessity of establishing centres of excellence. Claiming that there is dearth of animation education in the country, he said, “Ministry of Information & Broadcasting is creating a Centre of Excellence for Gaming, Animation and Visual Effects in Mumbai.”
The former Olympian added that the centre will be run by professionals. He urged the need for maximum coordination between the government and industry to produce results. Shedding further light on the work done by his ministry, he highlighted the fact that the prestigious Film & Television Institute of India (FTII) is for the first time “taking education out of the campus” through certification courses.
With the growth in internet technologies, Rathore stated that broadcasters are in for a lot of competition since anyone can create and share a film in today’s age and time.
Addressing the disruption caused by the emergence of internet technologies, the National Defence Academy alumnus stressed that the media and entertainment industry is undergoing massive changes. These alterations are being witnessed in terms of content creation, delivery of content to consumers and the manner in which it is being consumed.
Pleading industry members to not “shy away from disruption”, he stated that such disruptions have occurred since time immemorial. Coming from a rural constituency, Rathore was quite happy to note that fibre optic cables are being laid down extensively in rural belts.
He, however, reasoned that the challenge before the online space is to think of revenue models. “The smaller screen will become the big screen of the future,” he said. On the question of opinions shrouding online news reports, Rathore clarified that everything online is under the Ministry of Information & Technology but news came under the purview of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.
He agreed that certain issues pertaining to online news need to be looked into. “The online news is going beyond borders unlike broadcast news,” he said.
Speaking of Prasar Bharati, Rathore felt that the public broadcaster cannot be compared with its private competitors. “We are the only broadcaster that creates content in 23 languages,” he said. Yet he did not brush aside the desire for improvement since he told the audience that Prasar Bharati was lacking in both content and marketing.
Mentioning that experts from various fields including entertainment, marketing and research need to be brought in to modernise Prasar Bharati, he claimed that sincere efforts were being made to improve the quality of the public broadcaster.
Reacting to concerns of broadcasters, Rathore said, “Most of the broadcasters would agree that accessibility to the government is very easy.” Elaborating on the new online process being introduced by MIB to give away channel licences, he revealed that those channels who have been issued a license in the past will not be required to undergo the security clearance twice unless there has been a change in company directors.
When an audience member intervened wondering how news channels are being allowed to stream entertainment content through various shows, Rathore insisted that MIB was open to evaluating such complaints wherein news television broadcasters are airing GEC content instead of news content.
“You present the data in such a manner that everyone is number one,” Rathore said as he reflected on the TRP wars between television channels. He cautioned channels against over-analysing ratings data and pleaded that it be presented in the right manner. “You cannot twist news to get maximum TRPs,” he added. The minister concluded by assuring wholehearted service of the government towards the strengthening of the media and entertainment industry.