The indie struggle

Despite being critically acclaimed, the recently released Ankhon Dekhi garnered less than a crore in its opening weekend. With studios unwilling to lend support and exhibitors hesitant to give such films prime shows, independent film-makers continue to struggle with the up-hill task of showcasing their work. This, despite the success of films like The Lunchbox and B.A. Pass

Ritesh Batra Ritesh Batra
Mumbai | Updated: March 28, 2014 4:31 pm

one and a half crore, but for getting the film the required visibility, Bohra has set aside an astronomical marketing budget of Rs.8 crore plus!
“Funds for making a film, and I would say even distributing, are not such big problems as distributors are willing to release such films on a commission basis. It’s the print and advertising costs which are the biggest roadblocks faced by independent producers. One of the main platforms for film promotion is TV, and the cost is too high for such low -budget films,” states Bohra.
Where Bohra is concerned, however, even though the marketing cost of Mastram is stupendous, the raunchy subject has made it what he calls, a ‘hot’ property. “The price, I am being offered for it is equivalent to what would be paid for a film with a big star!” he says.
Indie films generally centre around subjects that are unfamiliar, tend to be provocative and challenge the conventional mindset, about what a hero of a film should be like. Besides, they do not boast of extravagant settings or big actors. This is one of the main reasons why big studios tend to shy away from releasing them. The Irrfan starrer, The Lunchbox, was however an exception. “At the scripting stage, the studios are just not interested in your film, but might agree to see it after a film is complete. I went around with my film to all the studios but the question always asked was ‘who’ is in the film. Obviously my ‘who’, Sanjay Mishra, did not interest them,” says Kapoor.
Ajay Bahl who made the erotic Shilpa Shukla starrer, B.A. Pass, raised Rs. 2 crore by selling a family property and spent another Rs.crore on marketing. He also did the rounds of studios, but they found the content too risqué. “In a screening for one of the big companies, two of the female executives walked out halfway because they found the content very disturbing. Actually, studios are not at fault because our audience does lean towards light, feel-good films,” says Bahl who found a distributor in Bharat Shah. The film earned a nett collection of Rs.15 crore, and is still running in Rajasthan, with the satellite rights yet to be sold by the producers. Understandably, erotica that works in favour of these films.
Bahl, shares Bohra’s views, that getting a distributor may not be difficult, but marketing proves to be a stumbling block. “The film needs to be promoted across all media platforms, which requires serious money. You can make a film in Rs.50 lakhs, but it could require four times that amount for advertising and print costs for good visibility.” Chopra, an ad and television film director who pumped in Rs. 2.5 crore to make W and another one and a half to get a digital theatrical release and also market it, says that raising funds for an independent project is not difficult, it’s ‘impossible’. “The producer has to do everything himself. We did the rounds of 10 studios after making the film, but …continued »

First Published on: March 28, 2014 1:00 amSingle Page Format
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