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Ashok Amritraj looking to form JV with animation firm

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MUMBAI: This is a time when foreign entertainment firms are looking at ways to get a foothold into India. American film producer Ashok Amritraj is no exception.

Hyde Park Entertainment chairman Amritraj spoke at the convention for the business of entertainment Frames this morning. The event attracted 1500 delegates from 17 countries.

He says that his firm is looking to form a joint venture (JV) with an Indian animation company.“I am also looking to make an Indian film in December. The problem though is that Indian films are not marketed properly abroad. One has drive for an hour in the US to reach a theatre showing an Indian film.

“The other issue is that we need stricter anti-piracy laws in India. In Chennai, it is a non bailable offence. The same should apply for the rest of the country. There should also be better copyright enforcement. It should not be that Indian films keep being inspired by a successful Hollywood product. I found it interesting to see a non-white Ang Lee win the Oscar for best director. Filmmakers are facing the threat not just from television channels, but also form new forms of entertainment like the iPod. Therefore it is important that we make better films and at more cost effective prices.”

Ficci president Saroj Kumar Poddar noted that Frames had evolved over the years and has added new dimensions. “It has gone from fundamental policy changes with broad brush approaches in entertainment to a deeper exploration of emerging facets in this industry. It is a matter of satisfaction for us at Ficci that having started from films, music and broadcast, we have moved into animation, gaming, visual effects, digital entertainment and this year into media. The challenge is in anticipating the technological revolution that lies ahead of us.

“In the realm of emerging technologies, it is the digital technology whether in radio, television, gaming or films that will drastically alter the face of the industry. Nine of the top 10 box office grossing films worldwide are richly endowed with special effects. Digital technology while opening up new vistas of revenue will also challenge piracy. It will also usher in a great demand for IT professionals in India. With our vast pool of software engineers and creative storytellers, India is poised to leapfrog from a mere outsourcing destination to the holders of new intellectual property.

"Ficci is humbly facilitating this process through instruments like Ficci Animation and Gaming Forum and Ficci Visual Effects Community. The Indian entertainment industry is witnessing phenomenal growth and is slated to grow at 19 per cent per annum to Rs 83,740 crores in 2010 from its current size of Rs 35,300 crores. The key driver will be technology,” said Poddar.

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