Particularization – new game for M&E: Shekhar Kapur

MUMBAI: The second day of FICCI FRAMES 2007 saw a heated discussion on the role of media and entertainment. With key speakers such as actor and director Shekhar Kapur, Farhan Akhtar and Reliance Entertainment chairman Amit Khanna one heard views relating the same.


 


Commencing the session, Amit Khanna iterated the fact that media is impacted by the growth of a nation and that the diversity in thoughts and interest is today being reflected on the content that the media provides. Throwing some figures he stated that last year Bollywood films were screened in over 131 countries and that close to four billion people saw Bollywood films as compared to 3.4 billion who saw Hollywood films.


 


Khanna said, “Though there is a large audience it is the focus on the domestic market where a billion plus people exist that restricts us in reaching a greater audience. The vibrant television sector helps in providing a plethora of information across all sections and regions.”


 


Kapur passionately conveyed that it was high time that India stopped being the “back office boys” in the animation and film industry and move on to be at the helm of affairs. “We should utilize our technical expertise and technological advancements to our benefit. Hollywood is on the decline, the south Asian Markets and India in particular are poised to be the new hub of it all,” he said.


 


He provided hope in saying that the day for a Chinese Spiderman jumping around the streets of Mumbai is not too far away! However, Kapur’s voiced his concern on the growing standardization occurring across all mediums. “Standardization will only result in similar products and that particularization was now the new game. Corporatisation in media has made things far too restricted with low quality products,” he said.


 


Kapur also zeroed in on the fact that 85 per cent of Bollywood hits have been those where the director and producer are the same or are related. He reasoned saying, “This is because there is far more creative freedom and decisions can be made faster.”


 


He also dwelled on the point that makers making films targeted at the NRI and urban audiences are forgetting that the major audiences of a film are those in the rural sector, who are the true decision makers.


 


“The industry should stop being averse to change. The consumption power will eventually direct where the revenue for the media industry will come from. There is a need to break content and for it to be made available anytime, anywhere and any portion that the audience desires,” he elucidated citing the example of Youtube and Myspace that provides free content for viewing anytime and anywhere.


 


Director Farhan Akhtar couldn’t agree more. “It is truly important for writers and directors to have creative freedom to execute their task. They shouldn’t have to worry about catering to a target segment or even be bothered as to who would see the film,” Akhtar said.


 


What’s more, Akhtar and his partner Ritesh Sidhwani have decided not to co-produce films with other banners from now on as their creativity was stifled. “We have decided to personally finance our own projects as far as possible,” Akhtar said.


 


Khanna provided valuable insight by saying that it was important to grab a share of mind much before grabbing a share of the market. “Today major revenue streams and modes that take our films to a global audience are technology driven gadgets like the iPod and the ever increasing option of delivering content such as music in the form of ring tones,” he said.

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