Bollywood needs its own R&D: Bedi
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Bollywood needs its own R&D: Bedi

Talking to Prerna K Mishra, Bobby Bedi says when every other industry has it, why not the film industry?

india Updated: Dec 24, 2006 20:49 IST

In the past four years, the entertainment industry has been given loans worth Rs 500 crore from Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI). Not one borrower has defaulted. After a long wait, Indian filmmaking's recognition as an industry is helping it to emerge out of the clutches of underworld financing. Kaleidoscope Entertainment Pvt Ltd chief Bobby Bedi who has produced, among others, films like Rang de Basanti, Mangal Pandey and Bandit Queen spoke toPrerna K Mishraabout the challenges and opportunities faced by the industry.

Excerpts from the interview:

What has triggered the metamorphosis of the Indian entertainment industry in the past five years?

It seems to be a combination of factors both external and internal. The tipping point for the industry came when taxes were reduced from over 97 per cent in the 1960s and 70s to 40 per cent, and later to a very reasonable 30 per cent. High taxation encouraged the industry to evade taxes. In the absence of organised funding, the industry was forced to bank on cash funding and that led to the entry of the underworld money. With bad quality of money started the trend of bad quality cinema and also led to various controversies. But things are back on track now and we are seeing a healthy 17-18 per cent year-on-year growth in the entertainment industry.

Has the multiplex culture helped the industry?

It has certainly helped in better reporting of revenues. Earlier, the theatres were owned by individuals and they did not honestly report the revenues they earned. But now there are intermediaries like the mall owners who have put in place electronic tracking mechanisms, and report revenue for every show. Better revenues have led to better quality of cinema.

Indian producers have started selling rights to foreign companies. Is that a sign of the maturing of the distribution mechanism?

It is a healthy trend. But presently, our films shown abroad are watched mainly by NRIs living there. The real jump will come when our products will be consumed by non-Indians. At Kaleidoscope, we have sold the rights for Guru to a Canadian distributor. The understanding is that they will do a mainstream launch for the film. We are working on the premise that each Indian will take two whites to the movie with him, and help us rope in the foreign audience.

What are the biggest challenges facing the industry today?

In one word,piracy. In the United States, 15 years ago, 60-70 per cent of film revenues came from the domestic circuit, while 30 per cent came from outside the US. Out of the 70 per cent, 50 per cent was from theatres and 20 per cent came from home viewing. Now, only one third comes from theatre revenues and two-third comes from home videos and television. Compare that to India, where only three to four per cent of the total revenue is reported from home videos. The actual percentages here should be close to those in the US, which should give an idea of the extent of piracy.

If other states were to follow the Tamil Nadu example where piracy has been brought under the Goonda Act, things could get better for the industry. A 10-15 per cent curb in piracy can bring about a 30-40 per cent increase in revenues. But, we don’t see the government making any such effort.

What are the key action points for the industry today?

The biggest initiative is to have research and development. Every other industry has it, why not films? There should be idea incubators. Film should go through a process by which only the best ideas hit the screen. The other area is talent development. Presently, we have a bunch of five stars dominating the industry, and they end up cornering most of the growth. The third and the most important part is to get the right connect with the viewer. The messaging should be loud and clear so that when the viewer walks into the theatre, he knows what to expect. The wrong audience can kill a movie.

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First Published: Dec 24, 2006 20:49 IST