Sunday, March 19, 2006

Crossover films & the discourse of Corporatisation

Dev Benegal, of English August and Split Wide Open fame, has announced his next venture into "crossover" filmmaking will revolve around the famous Indian math whiz Srinivasa Ramanujan. Benegal will be collaborating with a Brit actor-director, Stephen Fry, who has also been interested in making a film on Ramanujan's life. As anyone who grew up with parents and teachers (in tamilnadu, particularly) who considered proficiency in math the only sure sign of intelligence will admit, Ramanujan's name was invoked very often. I, for one, can't wait to see this film.

This is interesting for another reason - this film will
"mark the teeing off the co-production between India and the United Kingdom; Fry is also in India for the official signing of the India-UK Film Co-production treaty" (Mid-Day). Such treaties need to be seen as part of a larger struggle over "corporatising" the Indian film industry. While TV has led the way here, the last few years have seen many, many attempts to quantify the different elements of the film apparatus. Consider this from the Indo-British Partnership Network:

The Entertainment Industry is currently worth Indian Rupees (INR) 166 billion ($4.3bn) and is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20 per cent by 2007 generating INR 419 billion ($9.4bn): Source KPMG.

A much needed Corporatisation of the industry is taking place with growth of professional management, accountability and the incorporation of best practices across the industry sectors.

We need to create a bridge, on which the UK and Indian Creative Industries can meet, facilitate business to business deals, access markets for content, leverage the creative and technical expertise, production and post production facilities, professional management skills and finance.

The important question "corporatisation" raises is this: how well do discursive constructs like "culture industries" or "creative industries" travel? How do we assess claims that "Bollywood" is now a global culture/creative industry? Can the markers and terms of a creative/culture industry in the 'West' - a free market economy, intellectual property, a fully commercialized culture industries sector, certains norms of creativity, etc. - be taken for granted in the Indian context? We need to examine carefully how consensus regarding "corporatisation" is being brokered - no easy task, considering the range of players involved (producers, directors, actors/actresses, distributors, dotcoms, the Indian state, NRIs/diaspora, banks/insurance firms/other financial institutions, and so on) all of whom bring their own desires and anxieties to bear on negotiating Indian film industry's entry into a transnational cultural sphere. And as we do this, we will come up against the limits of "creative industries," which will, in turn, push us to rethink key terms like creativity and intellectual property.


  • hello aswin, liked your article on cross over films. just wanting to add my bit on it regarding corporatization of the industry. we all are talking about it , i have been trying to get fundings for my crossover film from them, but dealing with a corporate is no joke. i mean especially for a new filmaker trying to get his film funded. for an established name like a madhur handarkar, or or individal filmmakers it could be an easy task but for newcommers entering is very difficult. infact more that making a film the entire process of dealing with the layerings of people with imillion point od views is indeed a mammoth task for a first timer. so instead of putting in months and months and years into making presentations to a corporate many resort to individual producers and even black money.
    so i am questioning the set up and functioning and stratergies of a corporate and how are they looking at producing the films in future

    By Blogger SUE, at 6/23/2006 4:34 AM  

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