Since depiction of one’s culture is a very strong component of any country’s soft power, Indian cinema can play a significant role in the nation branding initiative, says Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag Singh Thakur, while emphasising the country’s potential to become the world’s content sub-continent
Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting Anurag Thakur has said that Cinema, as a soft power, can play a major role in nation branding initiatives. “Indian film industry and the government today recognize the potential of culture at the highest level. Depiction of one’s culture is a very strong component -of any country’s soft power,” he said.
Speaking at the recently concluded twoday seminar on ‘Indian Cinema and Soft Power’ in Mumbai, the Minister went on to say that a country’s ability to make itself appealing in a global market for ideas has become an important aspect of contemporary international relations. “Cinema can play a significant role in this by focusing on nation branding initiatives,” he added.
The Minister noted that rapid liberalisation, deregulation, and privatisation of the media and culture industries have transformed the Indian film industry in recent decades, while the expansion of global digital media industries and distribution technologies has ensured that Indian entertainment channels and films are increasingly visible in the global media space.
Speaking about the growing global popularity of Indian cinema, Shri Thakur stated that “today Hindi films are released simultaneously across the globe and its stars are recognised faces in international advertising and entertainment space.”
“Our films and music have captivated even the most remote African countries.” We know about countries like Nigeria, where the Nollywood market is heavily influenced by Indian cinema; Bollywood has also expanded into uncharted territories such as Latin America; and our cinema is making inroads into countries such as South Korea, Japan, and China,” he added.
Whether one likes it or not, India will soon have level playing field in policy and regulations for the media and digital platforms. This is very clear from signals left by policymakers in various sessions. After years of dilly-dallying, there will be light touch regulation beyond the self-regulation call by the industry.
NO GO LIST
Technological changes will outpace regulation, so it would be optimal to create a negative list (No Go list). Like how Singapore has done. Outside this list, any platform can function without other regulations.
NO & YES
Many in the industry don’t want regulation (specifically on content) in the OTT space. However, they have no issues with regard to investments, protection of investments, piracy and digital platforms.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Ministry of Finance and NITI Aayog are on consensus to grant infrastructure status to the broadcasting sector. For this, stakeholders should arrive at a common understanding on what infrastructure will be covered and definition of infrastructure. Once infrastructure status is granted, broadcasters and distribution platforms will be aided with affordable financing options.
COLLAPSED BY COVID
Industry leaders estimated that Media and Entertainment Sector in 2020 will shrink to $15 billion from $20 billion in 2019 because of COVID-19. Around 20% of workforce may lose jobs, impacting nearly a million people.
The film, television and online video services industry in India generated a total economic contribution of $49.8 billion and 2.6 million in 2019, says a report by Deloitte, Producers Guild of India and MPA. The report indicates a growth of 61% in these sectors.
OTT ON DEMAND
The demand for content streamed via OTT is increasing day by day in India. Today, India ranks number two in digital video consumption in the world. With 8.43 hours of consumption per person per week, the second-most populous country is way above the global average of 6.8 hours. Can you imagine Amazon Prime has reach in 4000 towns and cities in India?
Sixty per cent of video streaming worldwide is on mobile devices. The game changer for the media and entertainment sector in the coming days will be 5G. Also, mobile and video gaming will be a huge market in coming years.
MADE IN INDIA
The Indian M&E industry is the biggest in the world by output, with over 5 lakh hours of television content made every year, 80,000 newspapers published daily, and more than 2,600 feature films produced each year – 98% of all these outputs are shaped and made in India.
THRUST ON TRUST
Businesses will have to develop consumer trust in brands, as “trust” will play a major role in post pandemic world. This will require businesses to build social platforms based on freedom of speech.
To accelerate filmmaking and fillip to the Indian media and entertainment sector, Government of India is coming up with incentives in all sectors, including TV serials, filmmaking, co-production, animation and gaming.
It is not OTT versus cinema theatres. But OTT and theatres coexist together. Some of the biggest proponents of OTT are waiting to watch movie in big screen. And Christopher Nolan’s Tenet is their first choice.
Unlike a few countries like the UK, which has done a $ 1.5 billion to the creative sectors, India as a country might not be in a position to do so at this point of time. Indian M&E industry sought help from the government to provide access to capital. The organized verticals within the media and entertainment industry require capital today.
The actors and technicians still don’t feel safe to come on board for shooting. Everyone wants to make a creatively good product. So when we are working on a film, if the creativity quotient is removed and are only constantly worried about sanitization and other stuff and your whole mind is of that, then you will not creatively come out with a great product.
There’s no doubt today that Indian cinema is India’s soft power and that our films are seen in over 100 countries. Thanks to OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime, it is instantly visible and experienced now.
AROUND THE WORLD
While Indian content reaches 100 countries with streaming platforms, smaller countries like South Korea, Israel, Turkey have bigger media businesses with their content travelling globally. Indian films and TV dramas do not travel globally because of the ambitions set are small. The immediate priority is to focus on India’s content to be consumed globally.
India is committed to welcome the global film community to come and do business in the country and work closely with the domestic media and entertainment industry, said Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javdekar at the e-inauguration of the India Pavilion at the 61st Cannes Film Market.
Amidst the pandemic of coronavirus, the Government of India has committed to welcome the global film community to come and do business in India and work closely with the domestic media and entertainment industry. This message was conveyed by Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javdekar at the e-inauguration of the India Pavilion at the 61st Cannes Film Market, virtually attended by over 2000 film industry professionals across the globe.
Calling cinema the “soft power” of India, Javadekar said his Ministry is continuously working towards making India as film shooting and film friendly destination for the audiovisual sector. “Our Film Facilitation Office has facilitated over 80 foreign film shootings. Now, it will function as a single window for all Central and State government permissions. I appeal to the global film fraternity, to come invest and shoot in India.”
In a clear message that the ‘show must go on’, the global filmmaking community and industry professionals were conveyed that the 51st edition of International Film Festival of India (IFFI) will take place between November 20-28 later this year. Javadekar also unveiled the poster and the booklet for the IFFI 2020.
Adopting the new normal, and to keep the ethos of the virtual Indian participation at Cannes alive, the Indian Pavillion is expected to be buzzing with activities around co-production, film shooting in India, exports of Indan films and content, post production and networking. The Pavillion will facilitate B2B meetings and linkages between filmmakers and other media and entertainment industries stake holders (June 22-26, 2020).
Over a dozen dignitaries participated at the e-inauguration of the India Pavilion at the virtual Cannes Film Market. Over 90 Indian industry professionals representing 60 companies are part of the virtual Cannes film market.
In his address to the global film community, Amit Khare, Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India announced that along with the Indian film industry, centenary celebration of legendary filmmaker Satyjit Ray will be celebrated at the Cannes Film Festival 2021 showcasing a retrospective of the iconic filmmaker. The 74th Edition of Cannes Film Festival is slated for May 14-25, 2021. It was announced earlier that IFFI 2020 and IFFI 2021 will pay tribute to legendary filmmaker of India Satyajit Ray.
Atul Kumar Tiwari, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India, in his opening remarks invited global film community to block their diaries to attend the 51st Edition of IFFI (November 20-28, 2020).
Michèle Waterhouse, Head of Coordination, Cannes Film Market said Marché du Film Online 2020 Edition is a a milestone in the history of the film industry. “It has been a difficult time for all with Covid-19 and the future remains rocky but we are here together and we thank all of you who have supported us in this endeavour. Together we are a strong force and we will continue to move forward to give Indian cinema its due place in the world,” said Waterhouse. India has been participating at the Cannes Film Market for over 20 years.
Dilip Chenoy, Secretary General, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), moderated the inauguration of the India Pavilion and said the both physical and virtual markets are here to stay in the coming years and industry has to adopt to the changing needs. FICCI is managing the virtual India Pavilion at the online Cannes Film Market under the aegis of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India.
Shrila Dutta Kumar, Minister (Consular) Embassy of India to France assured assistance to the stakeholders of Indian film industry representatives to promote cooperative ventures with France in the area of film co-production and visas.
“We are going through very tough times and people have started seeing cinema in a different way, like how they are seeing their life differently. People will change the way they consume media. Our films have to delve in newer and fresher subjects,” said Prasoon Joshi, Lyricist and Chairman, CBFC.
Joshi maintained that cinema is an essential medium. “We say human being is a social animal. When did human become social?. Somewhere social needs became part of your life and over the years generations cinema has got hardwired into an essential medium… there will be a need for entertainment in some way or other”.
Other dignitaries including Madhur Bhandarkar, National Award-winning Director, D Suresh Babu, National Representative, Active Telugu Filmmakers Guild, Colin Burrows, Special Treats Productions, Kangana Ranaut, film personality, Usha Jadhav, Actor, Mai Ghat spoke at the India Pavilion inauguration.
TCA Kalyani, Joint Secretary (Films) Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and MD, National Film Development Corporation thanked dignitaries in her vote of thanks.
India’s soft power was the spotlight of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s maiden budget speech but India’s showbiz and films did not find a place in her speech on India’s growing soft power.
International Yoga Day was the focus of India’s soft power and she went on to mention that International Yoga Day gets celebrated on June 21 and yoga has been practiced in 192 countries.
The FM highlighted that artists in 40 countries sang Mahatma Gandhi’s bhajan “Vaishnav Jan To, Tene Kahiye Je”. “Bharat ko Jaano” quiz competition is not only a hot favorite of Non-Resident Indians but also foreign participants. Sitharaman also spoke about the mission to help traditional artisans and their products in global markets and expand global footprint.
In her speech, the Finance Minister also mentioned the development of a digital repository focusing solely on preservation of tribal cultural heritage — folk songs, photos, and videos regarding their evolution, place of origin, lifestyle, architecture, traditional art, folk dances and anthropological details of the tribes in India.
But it was puzzling why Indian cinema’s global footprint did not find a mention in the speech by Finance Minister as the country’s soft power.
There is a steady growth in the visibility, volume and cultural visibility of India — from Bollywood to Bhangra music. India has revolutionized in the production, distribution, and consumption of images and ideas.
Indian films are exported to over 35 global territories. China alone accounted for a $272 million box office collection for 10 Indian films in 2018.
The warm-up to any bilateral discussion or any business meeting with Indian corporates begins with an Indian film narrative.
Shah Rukh Khan is known to bring traffic to a halt in the streets of Berlin (during Berlinale). Aamir Khan is now officially the most famous international star in China. Even today, Rajinikanth is a cultural phenomenon in Japan, where local fans dubbed him ‘Dancing Maharajah”.