India Pavilion was inaugurated at the 72nd Berlinale European Film Market 2022 recently. It was organised on the sidelines of the Berlin International Film Festival. The Inaugural session, hosted by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, National Film Development Corporation and the Confederation of Indian Industry, saw the unveiling of the virtual India Pavilion which is showcasing, 75 Years of India’s Independence – Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav among others.
The discussion was between expert panelist, Ravinder Bhakar, Kathrina Suckasle, Uday Singh, Sriram Chandrasekaran, Alan McAlex, and Kailash Pagare, moderated by Vikramjit Roy promoting India as a global content hub as the government and industry together work towards making India a hassle-free destination for content creation.
Vikramjit opened the panel by providing a few insights on the increasing number of Indian content consumers from across the globe by citing examples like Netflix’s Scared Games season 1, Prime’s Bandish Bandits and Chota Bheem, an animation series on Netflix.
Mr. Bhakar, CEO of the Central Board of Film Certification in addition to the said information shared the snapshot of the Indian Media and Entertainment industry. M&E is the 2nd largest industry in India after the IT sector which has the potential to grow over 70% in the years to come. The film, TV, and online services employ almost 9 lakh people directly and around 30 lakh people indirectly. Meanwhile, digital and online gaming grew from 16% in 2019 to 23% in 2020. Mr. Bhakar foresees the growth of 220 million TV screens and 750 million smartphone users in India by 2025 as well as 50% of the OTT consumption, he stated, would be by the regional users. The Ministry of I&B is now looking into ways it can promote content generation in India in order to bridge the skill gap and professional training required for the same. The growth in the Animation, Visual effects, Gaming, and the Comic sector is an added incentive to this program. He also mentioned the increasing eagerness of the government to make the process of film production easy in each state for domestic and international production houses.
Vikramjit then moved the panel to Katharina Suckale of Bombay Berlin Film Production, a company overseeing content endeavors that are global but emanate from India to discuss the interest of European market post covid in Indian content. To build co-productions you need distributors to have access to funding. The good news is, now that cinemas are open, this process is now back in the works. People want to watch movies and there is a keen interest in Indian content as well. In Europe people relate to India, it’s magic, beauty and romance which are the topics people are longing for, Katharina said. She suggested that the country needs to be a little more patient since the industry is in the process of opening up.
Speaking of how the states in India have come up with policies for an easy filming experience in the premises of the state, Rahul Pandey IAS, State of Jammu and Kashmir shared the new robust and promising policy that J&K has come up with. Pandey shared, J & K is creating an unmatched experience for the industry with least intrusiveness by a human. The timeline is respected and some officers are dedicated to facilitation for both security and administration. J&K will also provide subsidies for films via a single window online process. He further highlighted the perks of shooting in J & K as well as the admin facilities that have been made available. So far, the state has completed 75 shoots in the last year and they look forward to a great summer hosting the industry.
Similarly, Mr. Pagare of Maharashtra Film Management Cell shared a list of facilities Maharashtra state has to offer. Some of which include 16 studio floors ranging from 2000 sq. ft to 16,000 sq ft., a film city at goregaon spread across 521 acres, a listicle of 100 scenic locations with full details of the process of shooting there and whom to contact for permissions. Maharashtra now also has a single-window system in place wherein all film-related bookings, permissions and management can be figured. So far the state has processed 1000 applications and has 450 readily available locations for the shoot. Adding to this, Mr. Pagare said the state is looking at the M & E industry from the perspective of tourism opportunities as well. He invited the industry to come to explore the plethora of options that Maharashtra has to provide for reasonable expenses and named the state home to the industry.
Alan McAlex, the producer for movies like Killa, Liar’s Dice, Hunterrr, shared his insights on producing Indian content and what kind of films can be green-lighted. The current spotlight is on regional content and filmmaking and finding films that are for a global market. The rise in investors who want to sell Indian content on a global scale is a good sign for the same. Adding to this, he shared, with the advent of OTT films now have a longer shelf life. Covid has played a major role in how the industry functions and it has also opened many avenues to explore.
With the policies that the government has come up with, India has become an end-to-end solution provider for both domestic and international content makers as well.
Sriram Chandrasekaran, the founder of Studio 56 which is a studio for 5G animation, shared insights from the animation industry in India with the panel and the audience. Speaking of the growing animation industry, Mr. Sriram highlighted that the company is in the process of making a 250 sq. ft campus for making animations, skill development, and exploring the many possibilities a metaverse promises.
Sriram looks forward to making content that will provide culturally relatable content to kids in India and his company is all about producing good content of good quality for the audience out there. Animated content is for all age groups, he said while referring to hits like Kung Fu Panda and Ratatouille which were much well received by audiences across the globe and the age graph.
Further, Uday Singh, MD of Motion Pictures Association highlighted how stories now travel faster than they used to due to the availability of so many platforms and distribution services, referring to examples like Squid Game and Money Heist. The opportunity is huge since the industry globally earns 177 billion and 14 million jobs. The industry in Singh’s perspective is soft power and an opportunity to shape how the world understands India. The way to take this forward, Singh says, is to simplify, incentivize and promote along with other detailed measures he spoke of in the video.