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"The Indian film industry will create its own force to deal with the menace of piracy " : Q&A with Ficci entertainment committee chairman Yash Chopra

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Chairman of the entertainment committee of Ficci, Yash Chopra says the film industry will shortly unveil a task force to combat piracy, on the lines of the one set up by the music industry.

One of the leading producer directors the country has seen, Chopra has also been a staunch champion of the industry's cause. He believes that although Ficci Frames 2002 may not move the government into offering better facilities for the sector, it will at least pave the way for a more organised entertainment industry.

How will a forum like Ficci Frames 2002 help the industry to find solutions to the problems facing the industry?

Ficci Frames per se is not meant to solve any problems facing the industry, but to act as a forum where the diverse sectors related to the entertainment industry can meet on a common platform and share knowledge and know how. Till three years ago, the industry was being run on the personal whims and fancies of the people involved. Corporatising the industry basically means putting our own house in order. Ficci Frames, now into its second edition, is an attempt to interact and share knowledge about the legal, financial and copyright aspects related to the entertainment sector.

It will help address issues like piracy and film finance which have been dogging us so far. While the laws regarding these are in our favour, the implementation is not. Piracy is a global problem, and hopefully speakers from other countries will be able to help the Indian industry in this regard. The Indian film industry is also now planning to create our own force to deal with the menace of piracy, on the lines of the one set up by the music industry. This should take concrete shape in about a month's time.

What in your opinion is the status of the entertainment industry in India?

The entertainment industry is the most happening sector in the country today. Unfortunately, the fortunes of this industry are linked directly to that of the products it throws up from time to time. So, while a spate of films doing well at one point may augur well for the industry at that time, one major flop may also spell temporary doom for the industry.

Also, this industry is always the first casualty of unforeseen circumstances like wars and riots. However, I feel both cinema and television are poised for a big spurt in the coming days. TV in fact will be a big help to the entertainment industry in every department.

How has the industry been affected by the global recession?

We have been hit as much as anybody else due to the global recession. Of course, 11/9 set off apprehensions that overseas business may not do as well. But luckily for us Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, which was released overseas in early December, turned out to be the biggest grosser in the last few years, netting over Rs 500 million on foreign territories.

TV in fact will be a big help to the entertainment industry in every department.

Do you feel creativity in cinema and television is being stifled in the interests of commercialisation?

That is true in the case of cinema. There are very few films like Lagaan, which the entire country can be proud of. Otherwise, in most films, you feel the soul is missing from the end product.

Television, on the contrary, is getting better by the day. There are better faces on TV, better scripts, better production values than before. There is a vast talent that is emerging on Indian television, and creative people like Ekta Kapoor are making a big success of it, by tapping the right resources. TV has definitely come of age in India and there are no limits to the creativity one can go to in the medium. The future, I feel, belongs to the entire entertainment sector, which is going to greatly benefit from television, too.

How have technlogical advances helped the industry to grow in the last decade?

Except in the field of special effects, the Indian entertainment industry is now almost on par with the best in the West. However, certain government laws, customs duties and the like hinder technological development as fast as one would like it.

There are better faces on TV, better scripts, better production values than before.

Are there any possibilities for global cooperation among entertainment industries among countries to combat piracy, ensure stable sources of finance and address other common issues?

Several entertainment companies in India are now going in for insurance and institutional financing. The trend is slowly towards a more organised sector, something that will receive a boost with cooperation from entertainment industry associations from other countries, who are attending Ficci Frames 2002.

More than that, however, what the industry needs is original ideas, on which films will succeed. All other regularisations and technological advances will be of no avail till we get good subjects and scripts on which to build.

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