PVR Director’s Rare has given a new ray of hope for indie filmmakers in the country. Shiladitya Bora, the head of this division, tells us more about the initiative and the journey so far
Filmmakers in India have always been at the mercy of big studios and production houses. It’s not enough to make a film; a far more challenging task is to distribute the film properly to grab the eyeballs. While big banners have been successfully releasing films starring A-list actors, distribution of films still remains a nightmare for countless indie filmmakers in India. Over the past few years, the number of indie filmmakers has shot up considerably and a slew of indie films have been screened at international film festivals. After a long struggle to find a distributor to screen their films across the country, finally indie filmmakers have a ray of hope, thanks to PVR Director’s Rare initiative, the first of its kind in India. Shiladitya Bora, the head of this division at PVR, is extremely happy with the response so far. The initiative was born out of the need to screen content driven films which are made at a fraction of the cost of a masala entertainer. “Most film production corporations today are making films that thrive on star value and entertain smaller town audiences more than the chic urban city crowd. It’s not that the films that would entertain the niche audience are not being made. Most content driven films are comparatively inexpensive in comparison to the star driven masala entertainers. But very few of these films find distributors because most distributors in India are still driven by star, budget and money. Remaining corporate distributors barely choose five-six such films in a year. So there is a huge gap,” Shiladitya Bora says.
They have managed to release six critically acclaimed indie films in the past six months in cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai and Bengaluru. Most films screened so far like The Forest, Kshay and Good Night Good Morning have won multiple awards in international film festivals. Shiladitya agrees that it’s easier to market award winning films, although, it’s not the
sole criteria. “We closely monitor the major film festivals to look for the right indie content. We have tried to keep the process very simple. Any independent filmmaker can approach us to release his or her film under the Director’s Rare initiative. They need to submit us a preview copy of the film along with the other relevant details. The film is then reviewed by the Alternative Programming Team at PVR and in most cases we give a decision within a week’s time. Once a film has been picked up for release under Director’s Rare, we then work out a customised release plan depending on the scope of the film,” he reveals about how the films are chosen.
Most films which are released as a part of PVR Director’s Rare are screened for a week or two and sometimes even that becomes difficult in cities like Hyderabad and Chennai, which have a strong regional film industry. “Films like Good Night Good Morning and Kshay have managed to do good business among the films we have released so far. Another film, Love Wrinkle Free did exceptionally well as it successfully crossed over from the ‘independent cinema’ category to ‘good cinema’ which gets acclaim from both critics and mass alike,” Shiladitya reveals.
So what’s the biggest challenge they have been facing so far? “The biggest challenge is of the mindset. Most decision makers in the industry come with the mindset that such films won’t work at the box office and say Aisi picturein nahi chalti (Such films don’t run). Hence they are not even ready to experiment,” he says. Several mainstream and indie filmmakers and critics have begun openly supporting PVR’s initiative on social networking websites. How are such films promoted to catch the attention of the audience? “We support these independent films in terms of marketing support like Theatrical Trailer Promotion in PVR Theatres, Print, Electronic and Digital Media PR, Viral marketing on Social Media Network, BTL activities etc. rather than money. We have been able to support a few films with outdoor hoardings, ads in major publications etc.” While the initiative has been lauded by movie aficionados, pricing of tickets still remains an issue. Is it justified to price the tickets of the indie film at the same level as a mainstream film? “Except for PVR Director’s Cut at Vasant Kunj, Delhi which is a super luxury property, in all other PVRs the tickets are priced at the regular box office prices. On weekdays `110/ `125 ticket price at PVR Juhu, `125 -`150 ticket price at PVR Anupam Saket or `100 ticket price in Ahmedabad etc are very affordable prices.”
In the next six months, 13 more indie films are going to be screened as a part of PVR Director’s Rare. “With technology to make films becoming affordable and easily accessible to the common man, the number of indie films being made in the country have shown a sudden jump. Also our big city audience at least has become very experimental. They want to see the new, out-of-the-box cinema. And to make our film industry as a wholesome industry, we got to have space for every voice, only then it will be able to grow. We are certain that this platform will give birth to new forthcoming champions of cinema in our country,” says an optimistic Shiladitya.
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About the Author (Author Profile)
Hemanth writes primarily about Telugu cinema, although he finds inspiration from the works of filmmakers like Woody Allen. Apart from writing, he spends most of his time on Twitter discussing about cinema, travel and life in Hyderabad.