On this page, a few weeks ago (issue dated February 11, 2012), we had invited you to write in with your responses to some questions we had posed, with a view to taking stock of where we, as an industry, stand today and where we are headed. A huge thank you to you, our readers, as also our followers on Twitter and Facebook, for writing to us in such large numbers with your thoughts and comments.Without further a do, here is the general consensus that emerged from your inputs:
• How would you characterise the current state of the industry, in one sentence?
At the crossroads. We can either build on the great performance of last year and set even higher benchmarks for box office collections, or we can get carried away in our budgeting and go back to a phase of depressed sentiments and confidence.
• What are the biggest challenges the industry is faced with?
Piracy, an uncertain and shaky economic environment, multiple taxation and paucity of bankable stars.
• What are the key opportunities the industry can benefit from in the near and mid-term future?
Expansion in number of screens and miniplexes, increasing number of movie channels on television and a wider worldwide release of films.
• With a spate of films crossing the Rs 100-crore NBOC mark in the recent past,can the film industry be said to be in its best phase ever?
A virtual dead heat emerged in the responses we got to this question, with half of you feeling that the industry is on the cusp of graduating to the next level in terms of collections, while an almost equal number feel that the current phase is a bubble about to burst.
• Are sequels and remakes here to stay or is this just a short-lived fad?
Sequels are here to stay and we will see an increasing number of franchises being created. On the other hand, remakes, whether of Hindi films or South Indian films,will taper off once a couple of them bomb at the box office.
• With the biggest hits being films with very Indian themes, is it curtains for NRI cinema and dependence on overseas collections?
The trend, in the short and medium terms, is clearly towards themes that are solidly ‘Indian’. However, given the right technical finesse, there is no reason that they should not do well among the Indian diaspora settled abroad either.
• How wide is the multiplex-single screen divide in terms of audience tastes?
The real divide is between different geographies rather than the nature of the cinema hall one watches a film in.
• How can we revive the moribund home entertainment market and valuations?
A very difficult task unless VCD, DVD and online piracy is cracked down upon with an iron fist, which seems virtually impossible right now.
• How big a threat is cricket in general and the IPL in particular?
This is where we noticed the largest change in perception from the last time we posed this question about a year ago. And it’s perhaps a comment on the Indian cricket team’s poor run in the last few months that virtually all respondents felt that cricket doesn’t pose a mortal threat to a film’s box office potential.
• Can Hollywood ever surpass the Hindi film industry in India?
While Hollywood is unlikely to replace local content, it is a formidable competitor indeed and a dubbed big-ticket property like a superhero franchise can give the biggest Hindi film a run for its money.
• What changes in the regulatory environment would you like to see?
Lower and fewer taxes!
• With 2013 marking a century of Indian cinema, how best can we commemorate the occasion?
Here we received many and varied responses, ranging from instituting a museum to commissioning a documentary. However, we just had to share our favourite response: ‘By finally coming together and behaving as one industry rather than a many-headed, many-tongued circus!’
Amen to that!