Reliance Entertainment chairman and Film Producers Guild of India president Amit Khanna is a veteran of the film and TV markets both in India and Internationally. In recent times apart from advising Anil Ambani on his expansion into the Indian entertainment market, he has taken on an industry spokesperson role apart from “mentoring” newcomers in the film markets.
Khanna reminisces about the time when he as Plus Channel co-promoter very cleverly upstaged Indonesian buyers who were paying him less than his expectation for the daily Swabhimaan.”I went and struck a deal with an American company for the Indonesian market at a price of a million dollars,” he says with a clever smile.
“They were trying to under price my product, I did what I had to.” Businessofcinema.com spoke to Khanna who has come a long way since assisting Dev Anand in his early days about things relating to international marketing, film markets, Cannes and the efforts being put in by the Indian industry to make forays internationally.
Do you think India has been given a fair treatment at the Cannes film market this year?
Fairness is a matter of subjectivity. And remember life is never fair. Only losers expect life to be fair. So what if India has the largest film industry in the worldÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦anything which is largest need not necessarily be the best. For too long the film industry has been inward looking. Hence gaining acceptability at festivals such as these is going to take time. Last four five years we have seen some change. Devdas was screened hereÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦more and more Indian films will get screenings within the festival and in competition. Also you can’t forget, the Cannes Film Festival screening committee selects a particular type of filmmaking style.
What makes you bullish?
There is professionalism coming in with the advent of corporatisation. Today you have 150 Indians in Cannes. This clear evidence of the fact that there is change. Today Indian films are everywhere. From a mere token presence, you will see Indian cinema getting a larger share of wallet and eyeballsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦Trust me it will happen. We cannot lose sight of the fact that we make commercially successful mainstream box office popular cinema. Last year we had four stands in the Cannes film marketÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦this year the number is eight..it can only go upÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦
What about the state of the CII-backed India pavilion in the international village?
Well, the more the money is poured in, the better will it be..We will push people to come here along with the help of the CII and Film Producers Guild.
Whether India’s film community will be able to deliver on the goods and its marketing exercise?
Have you seen the Italians, the Spanish, the Koreans, the Hong Kong professionals attending the film market? Our guys are much betterÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦I rest my caseÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦
What are the growth indicators?
At the end of the day, markets such as Germany are generating $1 million Euros and France 250,000 Euros a film. Things can only go northwards. With 50-50 per cent growth what more could you want?