For the last five years, the whole industry has been buzzing with the claim that ‘content is king’ and that experimentation with it has been a work in progress. Unfortunately, we still have not explored this enough and carved a niche for ourselves when it comes to our films being consumed globally. Still, the last two years have seen great progress for our cinema, internationally. There has been wider acceptance and we need to acknowledge that.
2012 saw Gangs Of Wasseypur and Peddlers make it to the Cannes Film Festival, Tasher Desh to Rome Film Festival, and films like Ship of Theseus, Gattu, Anhe Ghorhey Da Daan, Mumbai Cha Raja, Miss Lovely and Barfi! travelled the festival circuit and set a great example for Indian films worldwide. Some of the best international sales agents represent these films today and are open to the idea of representing good Indian content. This process may have taken years but it is certainly a significant change.
There are now sales agents for Indian content internationally, and we have managed to penetrate unexplored territories. We set out to explore international sales through agents and the numbers we have managed on some films are happily surprising simply because one never expected Indian cinema to be consumed there.
The need of the hour is to experiment and go beyond the norm. Yes we have been exploring newer non-traditional markets but our risk-taking ability is far too minimal. We end up losing so many markets and opportunities in the chase for minimum guarantees or with set notions of what our asking and taking prices should be. This coupled with the predicament of the ‘country of origin effect’ our cinema carries with the ‘song and dance’ tag.
We need to have confidence in our films and go all out. Now that we have our domestic markets and traditional international markets figured out to a certain extent, it is time to explore non-traditional markets and newer avenues. Somewhere, we need to develop the attitude that ‘perhaps I don’t know’ and it is perfectly fine that someone else does and the need to be open to explore it.
Cinema was always meant to be a medium that transcends boundaries, and self-defined consumption boundaries need to be demolished. This year, we complete 100 years of Indian cinema and all eyes are on us. Also, with most festivals having India as a focus country, there is a greater opportunity to make a mark with our content internationally.