It was good to chat up with @CilemaSnob for the podcast on the business of Bollywood, primarily from our point-of-view at Ormax Media, i.e., research, tracking, consumer behavior, box office, etc. Click here for the link to the podcast, if you have not heard it yet.
One of the themes that run through this chat is my constant effort to open the listener’s minds to a common problem that plagues the film business: “stereotyping”. India is a vast and hugely diverse country, and “stereotyping” the consumers is a trap that potentially threatens marketeers across industries. But even more so in films, where there is no traditional marketing setup in place, and hence, little learning has accumulated over years.
If you hear the podcast, you will pick up many points where we are discussing stereotypes that the industry needs to urgently break away from. Some of them have stayed over years, some are more recent.
Another aspect of our work gets spoken about a lot. Some people question (e.g. in a few comments on the podcast page) if quantification of consumers takes the “art” out of the medium. Some day, I may write a longer piece on this. But to briefly cover this point, here’s my view.
At the end of the day, film-making is a business, like any other. Anyone who runs a business of their own will tell you that making money is the primary reason for any business to exist. And just the way it is in other sectors like FMCG, technology, automobiles, durables etc., being business-oriented does not imply being “un-creative” and “not innovative”. In fact, this itself is a stereotype – That only those who don’t have an eye on the business make good films!
An eye on the business and making good films are not mutually exclusive. Yes, you may have cases where only one of the two happens (often, neither happens!). But true magic is when both happen together. When art or innovation achieves its business objectives as well. That way, not only does it make money for the people who supported it in the first place, but it also means that a lot more people have “consumed” that piece of art. Now, why would that be a concern!