NDTV Lumiere, an initiative of NDTV Imagine to bring contemporary world cinema to India, has chalked out some aggressive growth plans in the coming months. Besides acquiring Cannes Film Festival award winners like ‘The Class’, ‘Three Monkeys’, ‘Delta’, ‘Snow’ and ‘A Christmas Tale’, NDTV Lumiere is likely to launch a TV channel in August this year. NDTV Lumiere has added 450 films to its catalog of films.
Elaborating on the company’s marketing strategy, Sunil Doshi, Founder member and Director of NDTV Lumiere, said, “We are currently in a Phase I of growth. We have tied up with Animation Express and Alliance Francaise as also several cultural institutions. We have also entered into barter of content agreements with various websites. Several corporates are currently in touch with us to do special screenings for their employees. Everybody is responding quite well to this model.”
He further said, “We have already started some initiatives in institutions like Alliance Francaise, Max Mueller Bhavan and Goethe Institute. We are providing our films to various international film festivals that take place in India, which include Mumbai, Kolkata, Thiruvananthapuram and Goa.”
The spread of world cinema in a country like India, where 95 per cent of the Box Office collections come from Bollywood and regional films in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Bengali languages and the remaining 5 per cent from Hollywood fare, has been gradual but steady.
Doshi explained, “We do have an audience. In a humongous country like India, there are new territories and new audiences that are emerging. They are coming from service industries such as BPOs. There are millions of young people who are much more aware about and are watching such content. These audiences have exposure to international passion, trends, arts, books, leisure, etc. The Web has helped people to open up in a huge way.”
Moreover, NDTV Lumiere is also eyeing the huge expat community that is coming over to India. These include, according to the company, nearly 10,000 French people living in a metro like Mumbai, plus Germans, Spanish, Italians and other nationalities.
At present, NDTV Lumiere is targeting nine cities such as Bangalore, Delhi, Kolkata and Hyderabad, among others. Doshi pointed out that there were some logistics issues in India in the sense that multiplexes, which were more commercially viable for screening niche world cinema, were mostly based in A class theatres or A+ towns. Elsewhere in India there were single screen theatres that were unviable commercially to cater to a very niche audience.
However, that is not dampening NDTV Lumiere’s growth plans in the country and the company is looking to expand to places like Kerala, the North-East and West Bengal in Phase II.
The company has lined up several activities in the coming months. It will bring a well-known filmmaker from abroad to present films, organise a retrospective and special focus film from a certain country, or a filmmaker, or a particular style and innovation in filmmaking. It is also planning to increase its online activities via its website Lumiere.com.
Doshi further said that while he was not aware how much the venture was helping NDTV Imagine, “at the moment our emphasis is to build a very good value for Lumiere”.
On the competition, he said, “It is very healthy to have competition in this sector as the mission of all the players in this sector is to expand the audience base and increase the market size. As far as real competition is concerned, it will happen, but it is too early to compete as there is not enough content for people to really see.”
About the launch of a TV channel, Doshi maintained, “Launching a TV channel is a last destination. We want to screen our films in theatres first, and then through the home video format and lastly through a 24-hour TV channel. That’s how the structure has been created. It is not easy to launch a TV channel in India. Fortunately, we have got all the requisite permissions, including that from the I&B Ministry, and are likely to launch a TV channel in August 2008. However, the date has not been decided on yet. You will see our films through the home video format from July 2008. There would be nearly 50-60 releases in a year.”
Doshi’s failures and struggles have helped him a lot in his journey from film activist to film producer to NDTV Lumiere. On this Doshi said, “I was overwhelmed with the launch of NDTV Lumiere. When ‘The Orphanage’ was screened and figures say that more than 2,500 people have seen the film, it was a happy moment. However, the journey has just begun.”
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