We're in a mess, say filmmakers
hit by global meltdown
Nov 15 (IANS) The current financial crisis that has hit the
world is considered as the worst since the Great Depression
of 1929 and the Indian film industry too is feeling the heat.
However, most of the Bollywood moneybags Suneel Darshan, Hansal
Mehta and Vashu Bhagnani, among others, blame corporatisation
of filmdom for the crisis.
sampling of what they had to say to IANS: Suneel Darshan:
Bollywood is not isolated from the crisis. But it isn't as
severe for us as it is for the rest of the world.
few corporate houses were rash enough to up the prices for
stars and film budgets. They're now panic-stricken. I took
a sabbatical in 2008 to re-assess the situation. But now I
look forward to a busy 2009.
Bhandarkar: There's a serious meltdown going on everywhere.
And stars have already been forced to reduce their prices.
Even the ones who command no fan following had begun to charge
Rs.20 million (Rs.2 crores). The bubble was bound to burst,
better it happened sooner than later. Would I make more budget-friendly
films? My budgets are entirely dictated by the theme. I've
made "Traffic Signal" at Rs.40 million, but "Fashion"
at Rs.400 million.
Bhatt: The cash crunch has created a panic in the market.
Lots of banks have frozen their credit lines, which means
the big corporate production houses will have less banking
support. To make matters worse, the film industry has lost
close to Rs.600 million (Rs.60 crores) in the month of October
a two-pronged attack with the corporate houses ceasing to
acquire films. It remains to be seen whether "Golmaal
Returns" will recover its cost of Rs.450 million.
in a mess. Stars never reduce their prices. One will have
to look at films' budgets to economise. More importantly the
entertainment tax will have to come down. In some states,
it's as high as 50 percent. That's killing the film business.
Bhatt: We Bhatts have never been a victim of our own hype.
Our core values have insulated us from the bogus "Bollywood
Shining" myth. We continue doing what we've done for
years. Low cost high quality is the mantra we need to embrace.
This mantra made China a superpower.
Mehta: In times of recession, it is usually high risk markets
like films that feel the crunch almost immediately. Bollywood
in particular is going to feel the impact of the crisis as
the current scenario though what is called 'corporatisation'
is actually an example of poor corporate governance and total
or no recession, Bollywood was and is bound to go through
a massive correction.
Walia: There's a definite financial crisis, and it's not just
about star prices, but everything associated with the film
business must be restructured and we need to face the stark
reality. We need to control the budget and sales of films.
They're way above the top. We need to rethink and reassess
the situation. Otherwise it's curtains for film industry.
Baweja: It's more of a wait-and-watch situation now. But,
yes, market correction will happen. Budgets will be restructured
affecting star prices. Selling films will be difficult now.
Production houses which produce and distribute their own films
will be better placed. On the plus side the Diwali releases
have a bumper collection.
So the belief that the entertainment industry will rock in
any given situation stays true.
Bhagnani: Ironically it's the culture of corporatisation that
has both organised and spoilt the film industry. While it
made everyone more professional and we no longer shook hands
over deals and actually put everything on paper, the corporate
culture also brought arbitrary money from the outside.
corporate houses were willing to pay stars anything just to
get them on board. The crazy star-buying spree has had a snowballing
effect. Prices have hit the roof. Stars will definitely have
to bring down their price, though they would still be indispensable.
Audiences do come to watch stars.