Participating in the discussion were Shobha Sant, head of content alliances for films at billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Jio Studios, Lada Guruden Singh, GM and head of Sony Pictures International Productions India, Akshay Bardapurkar, founder of streamer Planet Marathi, and Prithul Kumar, joint secretary, films, at India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
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Sant pointed out that post-COVID, among a spate of flops, some Hindi-language films including “Sooryavanshi” and “Gangubai Kathiawadi” have worked and also admitted that some have not. Sant also observed that for all the success cinema from southern India have enjoyed in 2022, there are, similarly, many that have not. The panelists were in large agreement that hyper-local themes were the way forward.
“What audiences are telling us is that we need to celebrate the country, we need to celebrate the idea of India and we need to go back to the characters who are flesh and blood,” said Singh. He added that hit films are no longer star driven, but content driven.
Addressing remaking an Indian-language films in another Indian language, Singh said, “It can’t be a remake, it has to be an adaptation, you have to bring in a local flavor.” The current massive success of Hindi-language “Drishyam 2,” an adaptation of the 2021 Malayalam-language hit of the same name was raised as a case in point.
Bardapurkar said that going to the cinema is an expensive proposition and the theaters need to make the visit an experience. “It’s all about building experience. What kind of experience you’re giving, is going to determine the next few years of watching because people have become choosy,” Bardapurkar said.
Kumar added that there are currently no plans for any government intervention in the theatrical sector. “It is the people’s choice where they watch their content,” Kumar said.
In summary, Singh said, “Cinema is not going anywhere. Audiences are telling us to smarten up, which we’re trying to. And, if we just go by the sheer numbers that I believe less than 10% of the population actually goes to cinemas, we looking at huge potential out there.”
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