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Bollywood branding: Still a long way to go!

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MUMBAI: Has Bollywood gone global? And has the journey at least begun? Or is it just plain hype, merely a myth? That it is a myth was demonstrated by Ramesh Sippy, Govind Nihalani and most of all, Vidhu Vinod Chopra at a debate 'Branding Bollywood Going Global-Myth and Reality?' which saw major fireworks at the FICCI Frames today.

Karan Johar, also on the speakers' panel, tried his best to prove that Bollywood has gone global, but to no avail.

The session was moderated by UTV's Founder Chairman, Ronnie Screwvala. The 29-year old Johar kicked off the session with a telling remark. "Shekhar Kapur, Deepa Mehta and Mira Nair are our ambassadors. If we continue to make films with honesty we can grab an international audience for our films," he said.

Kacon Sethi, CEO, K Sera Sera Production Ltd, endorsed Johar's views. At this, Govind Nihalani turned the tide and said, "I wish we could sell all our films as we make them per se. We are told to modify our movies to suit the market tastes overseas. How does one ascertain what and how to modify in the films? The whole product should sell, which more often than not, does not do so."

"Why are we only aiming for the UK market? We are still not looking towards even the US. And what about the other virgin territories?" he added.

Vidhu Vinod Chopra, who clearly stole the show with his candid remarks, felt that Bollywood's journey onto the global arena had not even begun yet. Though he didn't say it openly, he clearly hinted that one or two films from the Yash Chopra and Karan Johar camp amassing good collections abroad is not the yardstick to for celebrations.

"Why are we celebrating? Look at the figures which Harry Potter films generate. In contrast, our films, even in terms of the prints released, are way behind. Harry Potter and some other foreign flicks have released 25,000 prints. Our highest prints are not more than 1,000 per film, the average being just about 300-600," he pointed out.

"Tell me five filmmakers who can make global cinema," he asked. At the end of the session, the general sentiment of the audience was that all three aspects of filmmaking-distribution, marketing and content-have to improve.

Indian cinema is still a small blip on the global scene and is a story waiting to be told worldwide.

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