NDFC, DFF should step up to promote Indian cinema overseas

PANAJI: Greater efforts are needed to promote Indian cinema overseas and within the country and this can only be done by people who understand cinema.

While Indian cinema is now visible almost all over the world, it still lacks proper marketing and that is the primary reason for its failure to win many accolades or awards overseas.

This was the consensus in the Open Forum on why Indian cinema lags behind.

There was also general consensus that people with greater literacy in cinema were needed to mann important offices like the Directorate of Film Festivals and the National Film Development Corporation which promotes Indian cinema overseas.

Renowned award-winning critic and author Gautam Kaul said it would not be correct to say that Indian cinema was not making inroads in the international market, but felt that there was lack of zeal on the part of the authorities including the National Film Development Corporation and the Directorate of Film Festivals to push films adequately.

He said stronger efforts were needed to invite selectors from foreign countries to India and this could only be done if those who understand cinema themselves went to foreign film festivals and talked to the foreign selectors to promote Indian cinema. In any case, he regretted that Cannes, Berlin, Montreal and Venice seemed to the only festivals that Indian authorities considered important and hundreds of other festivals were generally ignored, unless individual filmmakers made efforts to reach their films there.

Senior film journalist B B Nagpal said that the failure to curb piracy and the lack of proper promotion and marketing were two main reasons for Indian cinema not doing so well overseas. He said that Americans spent millions of dollars on marketing, but Indian filmmakers had failed to master the science of marketing and depended either on the government or private distributors.

He said large amounts were spent every year to take the concerned Ministers and film contingents to Cannes, but this had failed to attract the selectors from Cannes to come to India or buy Indian films.

He said many foreign delegates had complained that they were unable to get adequate information about the Indian Panorama films apart from the details printed in the catalogues, and no efforts were made to put them in touch with the makers of these films. Even those who visited the Film Bazaar said they did not get much help there.

He also said efforts were not made to reach out to non-traditional foreign markets and only countries with strong NRI populations were targeted, and it was left to those from other countries to contact India if they wanted films from here. He said in a world of give-and-take, selectors from India must go overseas to select foreign films if one expected selectors from there to come here.

Eminent film author Pradip Biswas said it was regrettable that the promotion of Indian cinema appeared to concentrate around Hindi cinema and named several filmmakers from regional cinema who had not only been making good films but also winning international accolades.

Biswas and Kaul said foreign selectors should also be facilitated to visit the film festivals being held in other parts of the country. Biswas was emphatic that the promotion of Indian cinema overseas should be wholesome.

U Radhakrishnan of the FFSI agreed that many regional films went unnoticed and said greater efforts were needed to bring them to the fore.

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