Bollywood needs to be more proactive in the digital realm: Seminar

MUMBAI: At the fifth International Conference on Communications Convergence that was organised by the Indian Merchants Chamber (IMC) one of the sessions looked at the globalisation of Indian content. The speakers were FX Factory CEO Ramesh Meer and PlanOne‘s Viraj Kalra.

Kalra spoke about the situation from the point of view of the new Indian film producer. The firm has released three films in Bengali last year and one film in Hindi. Both Bollywood producers and those who work in the technology realm need to be proactive as understanding the needs of an Indian consumer is tough. "Film producers talk of digital downloads not realising that there are sites where one can download films for free. From that point of view India is a difficult market."


Film‘s pie of Indian entertainment is expected to stay at 18 per cent.

However to maintain that Kalra says that film producers cannot only rely on the box office. They have to make sure that their content reaches multiple screens and that they get paid for it. The governance model has to be improved. He notes that video content is driving uptake of higher end mobile devices. He spoke about the need for a tapeless environment to be created.

Servers save infrastructure costs. At the same time the rioghts to films in a digital environment need to stay with the producers.

They can give out the rights to film songs to short code providers like Mauj. Film producers can even get their own short codes.


He says that it is important for there to be backward and forward integration in the film production model.
An example of backward integration is Mukta Arts setting the Whistling Woods training school. This means that talent is being nurtured that the company can tap into. Forward integration can be seen in terms of film studios setting up post production facilities.

This takes care of the entire process of making a film. Digital cinema he notes allows for a one time investment in a film print. However the quality of digital theatres in India is a generation behind what it is abroad.

In order for Indian film content to travel abroad a one stop shop is needed.

This means there is a business opportunity for a firm who can take xcare of dubbing, subtitles, marketing. Also a one stop technology marketing firm is needed which can repurpose the content for different platforms. He notes that abroad film companies are becoming adept at using the new media as a marketing tool. An example is Borat where the film distributors used the net effectively in the form of podcasts, downloads of promos. This created buzz around the film and saved the need for a lot of money to be spent on marketing campaigns.

He also says that Bollywood needs to also look at making better trailers like what Warner did for The 300. That trailer is aimed at getting people to see the film and he notes that often the cost of a Hollywood trailer is equal to the budget of some Hindi films.

Meer‘s firm makes visual effects for films. He gave the example of George Lucas using HD equipment for Star Wars Attack Of The clones which was made a few years back. Lucas has now decided to only work in digital. In the US some theatres added digital screens so that they could air that film. Steven Soderbergh is another filmmaker who works in the digital realm. He says that in India it is expected that there will be 700 digital screens by the end of this year. Let‘s Talk was shot digitally. Digital sets are becoming more common like what was used for The 300.


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