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Doha, Qatar; November 22, 2012: India is the largest film producing country in the world, regularly releasing over 1000 films per year. This booming and iconic industry took centre stage at the Royal Opera House in Katara as part of the Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF) Doha Talks series.
Indian cinema will mark 100 years of movie making in 2013. With ticket sales and revenue both in the billions, Doha Film Institute (DFI) invited Rajeev Masand, Entertainment Editor CNN IBN to chair a panel to discuss if Bollywood could truly go global and cross over to new audiences in new markets round the world.
Avtar Panesar, Vice President, International Operations, Yash Raj Films, opened the session by suggesting there were three phases they needed to widen the appeal of Indian cinema. “Awareness, acceptance, embrace. We’ve already conquered the first two, however, I believe we are already global”
“The perception is that unless you’ve broken the American market, you’re not truly global and I disagree with this entirely. It’s been ten years since we cracked the German market. We’re now releasing films in Japan, Korea, China, Mexico, Brazil, Turkey and the UK,” he continued.
Oscar nominated director Gowariker was the first to point out the range of genre film being made in the market when the discussions asked if song and dance was a help or hindrance in securing global audiences.
“Bollywood is not the only film product to come out of India. We have so many imaginative filmmakers who don’t want to make a song and dance picture and these are the films that need to break out outside of India,” he said.
Acclaimed actor Anupam Kher agreed, “It took Richard Attenborough to make ‘Gandhi’, and Danny Boyle to make ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. We need to be brilliant ourselves, telling our own stories in order to break through”
“Bollywood is a genre that has its limits for mass appeal,” added Gowariker. “Hollywood has huge reach however Indian filmmakers should start making films in the English language, within the universally accepted 2 hour length. If we begin to make films that will appeal to international audiences, then we’ll see how successful Indian cinema becomes.”
Panesar agreed: “Historically, we became a very inward looking industry and this worked for us. Becoming self-sufficient meant we didn’t need the investment or the input from the West. What’s happening now is that we are ready to embrace new styles of cinema and collaborate with colleagues in other markets.”
“This is the era of collaboration and cooperation. We are moving in the right direction and our independent distribution arm will take off, it’s just not going to happen over night, “he concluded.
Rounding off the session, crowd favourite Kher said, “The way I see it, Indian movies are just like Indian foods. They’re an acquired taste”.