I was guest of honour and speaker at a Producers’ Network meet where I was asked to speak on unconventional methods of distributing movies.
While speaking at these kind of occasions, or attending such seminars, I often get embarrassing questions about our films. Dear movie fanatic, let me assure you after years of experience hobnobbing with the film festival crowd of the world, that Bollywood is the biggest shame of India. It’s so difficult to convince people here that Indian films are much more than Shah Rukh Khan dancing or Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ostentatious flourishes. Nobody knows anything about the amazing regional cinema we have; or even some of the newer directors who are trying to do different things. By the way, while on Bollywood, the Indian Film Company formally acquired the rights of ’Italian Job’ to be directed by Abbas-Mustan. Shudder, shudder!
Later on in the day, after some such ranting about Bollywood with some of my Cannes friends, I got to know about an amazing project that Mira Nair has initiated. The project is called the Maisha Lab. She brings together writer sand directors from East Africa and West Asia for creative collaborations in film.
But on the subject of unconventional methods of distributing movies, it must be said that this is something that we in India sorely lack. Most good Indian movies don’t even reach most towns unless they have a star actor in it. My first suggestion was: Take movies to communities. Use the Web to announce or even put up films online meant for specific online groups. The call centre community in India has unconventional work timings. Ask multiplexes and theatres for early morning slots near prominent call cantres. It is an experiment that has already worked in Mumbai, at the Fame theatres in Malad.
The second thing that can be done is to encourage digital distribution. It will allow screening possibilities in corporate premises. The micro-finance model can be replicated in film distribution as well. Empower unemployed individuals in villages with small loans for a state-of-the-art LCD projection equipment. This will make film distribution a lucrative business opportunity and also make films accessible to the masses.