2008: Ecstasy or Agony; filmmakers debate

MUMBAI: With tons of companies having invested a rather large amount of money in 2008, the year is described to be the worst for the Indian film business. Day 2 of FICCI FRAMES saw a panel of filmmakers debating on whether or not 2008 was truly an agonizing year for the movie industry.

Members of the panel included producer-director Goldie Behl, director Vishesh Bhatt, BIG Pictures COO Sunir Kheterpal, UTV Spotboy COO Vikas Bahl and Fun Cinemas COO Vishal Kapur. The session was moderated by CNN IBN entertainment editor Rajeev Masand. Also present at this discussion were director-producer Yash Chopra, Reliance Entertainment chairman Amit Khanna and producer Mukesh Bhatt amongst others.

Most panelists merely acknowledged the fact that 2008 was a rather dull year with regard to Indian films and the kind of box office collections one saw. Behl acknowledged the fact that players in the industry need to take actions and steps with great caution and need to invest and conceive innovative marketing strategies. "We need to invest money in ideation and development. I also think PR and marketing are aspects that needs to be concentrated upon as there is no streamlined approach to this currently," he remarked.

An interesting point that was touched upon in this session was that of the present crisis of the recession/corrective period. Behl said, "Money has dried up for the moment but the truth is that it will always be available for filmmakers who are driven by passion for filmmaking and tell interesting stories."

Khetrapal explained the business and the dynamics of filmmaking and addressed the paradox that was the year 2008 with the excessive money being pumped into the industry and resulting in production houses looking for greener pastures and new businesses to diversify into. He brought to light three key success drivers that will prove to be a boon for the industry, those included development, distribution and capital-cash flow.

While most of the panelists agreed on the fact that 2008 was a rather bad year for the Indian film industry, Bahl emphasized on the fact that one needs to start looking at the aspect of filmmaking passionately. He said, "There is no such thing as the business of filmmaking." He stressed on the fact that if one has a good film, it will eventually make the money.

Kapur on the other hand brought a new perspective to the discussion with figures validating the fact that the number of hit films in the last year have gone down and the kind of business one could have expected is not what was achieved.

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