Kamal Haasan the actor, director and producer is a known face. But he is also chairman of industry body Ficci’s media and entertainment sector skill council, which last week announced a Skill Certification Prog­ram­me for film industry workers. Excerpts from an interview:
In the motion picture industry, most high-end jobs like visual effects and graphics used to go to the US. Do you see a change?
It is already reversing. When PM said ‘Make in India’, the first industry that did it was media and entertainment, especially the animation industry. They are already making in India for Hollywood, like Life of Pi. Now a small portion of Hollywood’s hard labour is also done here. All the major studios have set-ups here. I foresee they will start making basic films here, because of cheap labour. For that we have to develop skills. If there is a skilled workforce and the labour laws are flexible, then they will ‘make’ here.
Tell us about this new skill certificate programme
This is a worker-led initiative. We start with certifying the existing level of skills of some 10,000 people, before bringing in new ones. If we invest in skills, we can reap tenfold. The films would become excellent; the workers would be worth more than they are now. change fast. Get a degree, and you are an engineer for life. But you can’t stay like that in any position here. Do you think a PhD in literature would certify a scriptwriter? We want to bring all the top guys to certify them in workshop we organise.
When skills improve, workers would expect wages to rise...
That is another department altogether. I can say I would be so happy to get my workers more money. I am also a worker, I will get more money. So it is simple.
We see people these days prefer their phones to cinema screens. Do you think the digital disruption is affecting films?
I look at it not as disruption, but as expansion. It is not ‘instead of’ but ‘also’. You can ‘also’ watch a film on mobile, or a tablet, or a screen. It is exactly like what happened to great singing artists who refused to sing in All India Radio. The few visionaries who understood the potential, their audiences expanded.
How do you view piracy?
It will go down. Why would you go for something pirated when it is readily available (affordably)? If demand and supply are well managed there won’t be piracy.