'We will promote the animation industry of India in a big way'

'We will promote the animation industry of India in a big way'

The Inquirer

The India Pavilion at the 62nd Festival de Cannes is gearing up for serious business this time. At least that what industry body — Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India — ASSOCHAM’s director Ajay Sharma asserts. ASSOCHAM for the first time has been given the charge of organising the India Pavilion at the Marche du Film (Film Market) at the festival by the information and broadcasting ministry. For the last several years, it was being organised by another industry body Confederation of Indian Industry. Sharma says the hard push that ASSOCHAM is investing in to promote India’s film industry, will surely elicit good results this time, unlike previous years. He points to the confirmed presence of the high-profile Cannes Film Festival president Gilles Jacob at the inauguration of the India Pavilion scheduled on May 14. Sharma spoke to Utpal Borpujari of Deccan Herald on the plans there. Excerpts:

What will be the main objectives of the India Pavilion this year?

The prime objective will be to disseminate information regarding the Indian film industry to the world and to exhibit the real strength of our diverse film industry, which has not been done in the past. ASSOCHAM’s strength is marketing, and we would like to position the Indian Pavilion at its rightful place, as at least the second-largest film industry in the world after Hollywood, if not the biggest.

Have you set any goals regarding what is to be achieved through this year’s India Pavilion?

Definitely and our intent is clear, which is why the likes of Gilles Jacob, the festival’s deputy general delegate Christian Jeune, Marche du Film executive director Jerome Paillard, France’s Centre National de la Cinematographie director general Veronique Cayla have confirmed their presence at the inauguration of the pavilion to be done by I&B Ministry joint secretary V B Pyarelal. We are being very aggressive this time to try and fill up the gap in facilitation that existed earlier.

Why do you think the Indian film industry has lagged behind in getting international access to the extent it should have had, unlike even smaller industries like those from South Korea, the Philippines and Malaysia?

Ours is a very typical industry. When they come to the ministry, they want to be considered as an industry, and then they want to get treated as stars wherever they go. Can you imagine Anil Ambani demanding and getting star status at the GSM global summit? Whereas the biggest names of Hollywood would always come dressed formally to top awards ceremonies like the Oscars of the Golden Globe, our actors will always be casually dressed at our award events. That’s the difference in attitude, they treat their work as part of an industry and give it the respect it deserves.

What will be new at the India Pavilion this year?

For the first time we are going to promote the animation industry of India in a big way, because right now we are only doing backyard jobs to big Hollywood ventures, but if we harness our talent, I don’t see any reason why we would not be able to make our own global-standard animation film.
We have also created a special space for independent filmmakers and producers to interact with potential financiers and buyers. We will also showcase around 30 new and old films to display the diversity of Indian cinema. We want to change the image of India to being a proactive industry. For the first time, we are also going  to release an Indian producers’ directory.

What kind of representation will we see from India?

Apart from individual producers and filmmakers who go to the market to promote their films, we have a whole lot of leading industry people attending the events being organised by the Indian Pavilion, which includes three panel discussions on ‘India’s Film Movement’, ‘New Digital Distribution Modalities’ and ‘Monetising Emerging New Platforms’. Among those who are coming are First California Bank senior vice-president David Hutkin, Morpheus Media Ventures chairman Rajat Jhunjhunwala, IndusAge director Sudhir Rao, Comerica Bank Entertainment Morgan H Rector, Magnet Media Group co-president Maggie Monteith, Hinduja Group chairman S P Hinduja, Spice Group chairman Dilip Modi, UB Group chairman Vijay Mallya and Reliance Entertainment president Rajesh Sawhney, apart from a number of leading filmmakers.

What is ASSOCHAM’s experience in dealing with issues related to the entertainment industry?

ASSOCHAM has been quite active in promoting the Indian entertainment and media industry with their global summit ‘FOCUS’ held in November every year in New Delhi with the active support from the I&B Ministry. The FOCUS Report prepared by ASSOCHAM and Ernst & Young has become a roadmap and is very much appreciated by the industry. Today, the Indian film industry is the largest in the world in terms of ticket sales and number of films produced annually. The inclusive approach adopted by the ASSOCHAM for the preparation of the India Pavilion at the 62 Cannes Film Festival this year means actively involving film organisations like NFDC, IMPAA, Film & TV Producers Guild of India, South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce, South Indian Film Exporters Association and the Indian Independent Film Makers Worldwide.

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