NEW DELHI :
Top Union ministers on Tuesday encouraged India’s media and entertainment (M&E) businesses to create content conceptualized and executed entirely within the country, echoing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for an Atmanirbhar Bharat or self-reliant India.
Speaking on the first day of Ficci Frames, an annual media and entertainment event held online this year, they said the M&E industry should champion the cause of Atmanirbhar Bharat.
“There is immense potential in original content creation as well as job creation in vernacular language production. We should focus on both volume and value," Anurag Thakur, minister of state, finance said.
Thakur, at a joint discussion with panelists like Uday Shankar, senior vice-president, Ficci and president, the Walt Disney Co. Asia Pacific and chairman, Star and Disney; and Sanjay Gupta, chairman, Ficci media and entertainment committee and country manager and vice-president, Google India, agreed that the pandemic had posed massive challenges for the sector but there was opportunity in adversity.
To be sure, a whole generation of young millennials is proudly watching content in native languages.
According to the Ficci-EY media and entertainment industry report 2019, overall consumption continued to increase on over-the-top (OTT) video platforms in 2018, with regional consumers driving growth.
Google claims that 97% of content on its YouTube platform is now consumed in local languages, and a similar trend was seen across most of the OTT platforms in India. However, Ficci’s Gupta pointed out that covid-19 is estimated to wipe out nearly 20% of India’s M&E workforce, impacting nearly a million people.
The great opportunity lies in sectors like VFX and animation, where the country already employs brilliant minds and has worked on several big-ticket Hollywood films.
Thakur added that the government is constantly evaluating the situation and will offer support or relief to the industry, as required.
“We will be partners. We have to harness the soft power potential of India for the progress of the country," Union minister of information and broadcasting Prakash Javadekar said.
He added that the government will bring out standard operating procedures for shooting in a post-pandemic world and will provide incentives to producers across film, TV and web platforms in the coming days.
Facilities provided to foreign filmmakers to shoot in India through a single-window clearance have already helped around 80 producers, Javadekar said, adding the country is a cost-effective option for many.
Netflix biggie Extraction and Christopher Nolan’s upcoming film Tenet were shot in India recently.