Thank You. Thank You. I’m really obliged to you and to all of you. God bless you. And without
further ado, I will talk.
There’s a lot of important things I think that need saying. That need somebody to be very frank
and when we talk about the business of cinema, it is left to us to actually first, very clearly
‘Decode’ and ‘Demystify’ what business are we actually talking about. And therefore, who are
the stakeholders in this business. When FICCI takes out their fancy book every year – big,
glossy – at the FICCI Frames Conference and they give us fancy numbers and they say so
many billion and so many trillion and then so many hundreds of thousands of rupees… What
exactly does that mean?
So let me try to demystify and decode the business of Cinema.
Let me start with the business of Cinema as in Cinema itself. Which is the cinema business in
the cinema, in the Theatres; in the single screens and in the Multiplexes,
Let us assume that hundred rupees is the ticket. The cost of the ticket, say hundred. It will be
five hundred rupees a ticket when we talk in perspective of percentages but hundred is the base
price. Eighteen rupees of that goes to the government.
First, before anybody gets anything, before j recover my investment as a producer, before I pay
off my debts, before I can even buy myself a lollipop, the government takes the 18% first.
Stakeholder number 1 – the Government of India.
Then we come to the second important stakeholder – the CinemaWala (the person who owns the
Cinema). The Multiplex owner. The exhibitor. Out of the remaining ₹82, he takes about ₹45. So
he is stakeholder number 2 and he takes ₹45 out of ₹82. Now for the sake of argument, let’s
make it ₹41 so that we break it into half. And then, we’re left with ₹41. From that ₹41, ₹8 goes to
the distributor as his commission.
Now we’re left with, ₹33. From that ₹33, we have to pay for prints, publicity, marketing and
advertising, which costs about ₹20. So we’re left with about ₹13. From which we have to first
pay the interest of the investor or the financer or the bank and the office and the rent and the
telephone and the facilitation fees which is about ₹7. So I’m left with about ₹6. 6% stakeholder
is me. 6% stakeholder is the creator. 6% stakeholder is the maker of the film. 6% stakeholder is
the person who invested in the idea, in the project, in the writer, in the director, in the creation of
So when we say ‘The Business of Cinema’, who’s business is it?
The government is a stakeholder of 18%. I am a stakeholder of only 6%. The distributors are
stakeholders of 8%. I am only a stakeholder of 6%. Remember prints, publicity, advertising,
marketing is taken before I get my money back. If I have to put 20 ads in the Times of India then
they have to be paid before the first ticker is sold.
So when we talk about the ‘Business of Cinema’, whose business is it anyway?
How is it that everyone is more important than the Primary Creator? Why is that everybody is
more important than the Primary Invetor? Why is that that the Mover and Shaker who decided to
create the film, worked on it, built on that dream, built on that Vision is treated like a Servant
right at the end of the any arms left ₹6? Which means ₹6 crores out of a ₹100 crores. So a film
does ₹100 crores business, the producers left for ₹6 crores. So if he spent ₹20 crores in making
a film and did ₹100 crores worth of ticket sales, he still only recovers ₹6 crores. Which means
the ‘Business of Cinema’ has got nothing to do with the ‘Making of Films’. Which means that,
we, as Producers, are looking to recover our cost from ‘Non-Cinema’ places. From paid TVs,
from Cable TVs, from Airlines. From Dish TV, from Hotels, from Music, from Copy Right sales
abroad, from satellites, from terrestrial TV, from OTT Platforms, from Doordarshan. NOT FROM
THE CINEMAS. The cinema is premierely in the realistic Food business. The film is only his
anchor Tent! He needs to sell Popcorn! I’m just a fodder. So when we demystify the business of
cinema, then we realize that the movers and the shakers and the stakeholders have nothing to
do with the cinema actually. Trampled upon. So we go one step further and we say ‘No!’. So if
supposing I make a film that costs a ₹100 crores. I have to recover 82% not from Cinema!
Because even if I do ₹100 crores film, they’re giving me only ₹6 crores. And if I don’t spend on
Prints, Publicity, Marketing and Advertising, I will not reach the ₹100 crores mark. But the more
tickets I sell, the more everybody else including the government, especially, the less I am
making. So, what is the incentive that we are giving the filmmaker to make films that will do
business for him? So we fought! We went to the Multiplexes and said ,”Do Something! Please
do something. Why can’t I take my money before you? I am the investor. I am the one who
borrowed money to make a film. You’re busy selling popcorn! So if you want me to be the last
recoverer, you take your money first, then give me a certain stake or share in your popcorn
sales and your samosa sales and your ThumsUp sales. Give me stake in your lobby. In the
advertising that you’re doing in your lobby. Give me a stake in your Car Parking. Give me a
stake in all the revenues that are coming in the Multiplex because they’re coming to see my film!
They can eat that samosa for ₹10 at Chandu Halwai. They don’t have to pay ₹80 for it.” No
answer. And we sensible people in the film industry. People who understood the vision of
cinema said that Multiplexes charge you ₹500 and ₹800 and ₹1000 per ticket!
Not only are we losing money but, the Industry is Doomed! And they said, “Give us your logic.”
So I gave them my logic. Here’s the real business.
Two major important things. One is, in my days, when I was a small child and there were Movie
Moguls. There was Gulshan Rai and there was G P Sippy and there was L V Prasad, there was
Shakti Samanta and there was N N Sippy, there was F C Mehra, there was Pramod
Chakravorty. They were giants. They were Movie Moguls. They used to travel in big cars. They
used to smoke Cigars and drink something called VAT 69. The earth trembled when they
walked because they were Movie Moguls and they were Movie Moguls for two reasons. The
ticket price was ₹3 and ₹5 and ₹7. And they owned their companies and they owned their films
and they owned their IPR and they owned the ground they walked! They were the real
stakeholders. They were NOT Employees. Today, when we say the Government, the
government is a nameless body, employees are taking it.
Then the Multiplexes which are corporate companies which are led by Board of Directors who
charge such stakeholders. Everyone I’m dealing with there is also an employee. Then we go to
distribution companies and they’re brokers. And then we come to the big production houses and
they’re also companies! They don’t have faces. They have employees. Where are the
And any business that does not have a stakeholder, someone who owns that project, someone
who owns that industry, somebody owns it and loves it and is willing to take risks of being the
owner, that is the industry that thrives. And at ₹3 and ₹5 and ₹7, Gulshan Rai and G P Sippy
and Shakti Samanta and N N Sippy and Satyajit Ray and Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Manoj
Kumar and Firoz Khan, they thrived! They thrived because at that ticket rate, 97% of the country
could go into the cinema and they did! At ₹500 a ticket, you’re only talking of allowing income
tax payers, in other words those who are earning more than ₹5 lakh a year to go into the
Cinema. Which means that you have shunned 96% of the audience. And no matter how
expensive your ticket is, if only 4% of the population is going in the Cinemas, it’s a doomed
The taxi drivers, the coolies, factory workers, industrial workers, those who are simple domestic
workers in houses and offices and the peons in the offices, drivers, those who man the metros
and the local trains, they can’t go into the Cinemas. They can’t afford it. So in the first place
we’re doomed there! And there will be no more Movie Moguls in those prices. And the best is it’s
not as if they were not watching. They were watching it in Video Parlors – pirated. They were
watching it on their Phones – pirated. They were watching in slums – pirated. And the Multiplex
was selling popcorn and we producers were getting nothing from people who were watching the
film. That’s the clear picture.
And we warned and we warned and then the good lord above took things in his own hands and
gave us COVID! And in Covid what was Piracy, became legitimate! We would actually sell our
movies to Netflix for profits. We didn’t have to pay for prints anymore. We didn’t have to pay for
publicity anymore. We didn’t have to pay for Marketing anymore. We didn’t have to pay for
Sales anymore. We didn’t have to pay Brokers to sell our territories anymore. We would just
make a film for ₹100, sell it at ₹110 or ₹115 to Netflix. They would make the profit and the IPR
but we would not be Servants anymore!
And as we go further into the Business of Cinema, it will be these stakeholders, Netflix and
Amazon, who will be negotiating with the Theatre owners! And say, “Buddy, this is how you will
do. This is how you’ll play my film or I’m going straight to the Digital. You choose.” But at that
price I’m making a profit. Though it is small, it is guaranteed. I’m not taking a risk. I’m not paying
for Prints, Publicity, Marketing, Advertising, anything. And every taxi driver and auto Rikshawala
is seeing my film! Every domestic servant is seeing my film and they’re seeing it legitimately. So
today, the way to the Audience and my profit, is to bypass the theaters. So when people say
‘Cinema is Finished’, what they mean is that the ‘Exhibition sector is Finished’. There is not such
thing as the ‘Business of Cinema’. There is an exhibition sector that deals with Food and Real-
estate, etc. There is a whole Commission agent sector – Distribution, which is about brokerage.
And there’s a Creative segment which makes movies who should have been on top of
everything and controlled, but they were put at the bottom of the pyramid saying after everyone
has taken the money first, you take the arms that are leftover. And it’s not happening that way
anymore. And the result of that is that you can see the content has improved, there is less
stress, there is ample space for everybody. The formats have changed. You can make it into 2
hour format, you can make 2 episodes of 3 hours, you can make 5 episodes of 40 minutes, you
can make 20 hours, you can make 20 minutes. Suddenly, there is not only far more financial
freedom, but there is far more creative freedom to tell a story the way that story is supposed to
be told! Films like the Fountainhead and the Godfather and Gone with the Wind, I predict, will
now be make in 10 hour formats so that the nuances that the authors wanted in their books, will
come out very very clearly. We will be dealing with Biopics in a more real essence. The better
filmmakers will become Great filmmakers. Young filmmakers will get a chance and now the
Business of Cinema has become the true sense of the word ‘Democratic’.