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Ficci Frames 2016: Marathi Cinema, its growth and funding

The panel titled 'Shaping and Funding the Marathi film ecosystem' spoke about the need and correct way of investment and the need to stick to the quality content that the industry has been producing for years

BestMediaInfoBrueau | Mumbai | March 31, 2016

ficci-frames-2016Marathi Cinema is growing and the growth is visible like never before in the last couple of years. With bigger budget movies and better box office returns, the film industry is attracting a lot of footfalls and raising eyebrows too. While it has been heavily affected due to the major problem of exhibition and distribution, the Maharashtra Government ruling about mandating the multiplexes to have one Marathi cinema on at least on prime time show has really changed things.

Ashish Kulkarni moderated the session, while the panel saw participation from Vishwas Joshi, producer, Swapnil Joshi, Actor; Shhyam Singhania, Chairman, Enarr Capital and Ajit Andhare, COO, Viacom 18 Motion Pictures. The panel titled 'Shaping and Funding the Marathi film ecosystem' spoke about the need and correct way of investment and the need to stick to the quality content that the industry has been producing for years.

As a moderator, Kulkarni pointed out how the cinema industry is creating better products and how the funding should be routed. He clearly stated pointers for the panelists including the monetisation problems in the Marathi cinema, impact of the Government ruling about the screen space and a lot of non maharashtrian producers making marathi films.

Vishwas spoke about the funding pattern explaining, "There is a lot of herd mentality in the country. If a person has about 2-3 crore to invest, he feels like making his own movie, without having the slightest idea of content and creative angle of it. Such people consider themselves producers; however, they must understand that they are mere financiers."

Swapnil supported this adding that a lot of trouble is created by middlemen. "There are few men who will try to explain a financier saying a movie is made in Rs 1.5 crore, you get Rs 40 lakh as subsidy, Rs 2 crore will come from satellite rights and the theatre returns can anytime reach s 2 crore, at the least. So, now, the person who is putting in money only focusses on investing Rs 1.5 crore and getting Rs 6-6.5 crore in return. In reality, however, the production costs sometime go up by say 80-90 lakh, the marketing budgets are not calculated in the first equation, which increases the investment to Rs 3-3.5 crore. Now, the satellite rights and box office returns are both dependent on the content, of which the financier has no clue about. This, for me as a creative person, loses a financier for life."

Swapnil pointed out a fact saying that there is a crucial difference between Hindi and Marathi cinema and that is "We make films, not projects which will be counted in crores of investments and returns."

Amidst all these talks about funding Marathi films, Andhare pointed out another aspect of funding in the industry. "I think it is rather better to invest monies in the infrastructure and market development, than putting in a single movie. The growth of the whole market can be ensured only through market development. I think the big day for Marathi cinema will be when a movie is released in 40-50 screens in continental Europe and that is what I am talking about."

He pointed out an interesting definition of growth by comparing Hollywood and Bollywood. "Thousands of movies get released in Bollywood that have a market size of USD 1.5 billion. However, Hollywood releases just 8-9 movies with a business of USD 40 billion. We have to decide and work towards what is growth for Marathi cinema that we are aiming at."

Andhare differentiated Bollywood and Marathi Cinema in a clear way saying that how this industry is neither star led nor budget led or technician led; it is purely a story led cinema industry and that it shouldn't be spoiled by making it heavily funding led or budget led.

Singhania spoke about how the company is currently in process of forming a board which will have a better understanding of the business acumen of the Marathi industry. "I chose to spend in Marathi cinema because I am a Mumbaikar and I understand this industry better. Bollywood is too high budget for me and I have already faced a serious failure in Tamil movie investment."

"At Enarr, we are planning to invest in about 100-120 films in the next seven years. So, we have a long term plan and we are here to stay."

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