Friday, May 25, 2012

Satellite Rights... And The Wrongs!

By Anant Mathur (May 25, 2012)

Most people are unaware of what Satellite Rights are or how they are calculated for films. In this post, I will discuss how satellite rights affect TV Channels, Producers, Distributors and Advertisers. 

Satellite Rights are an agreement between a TV Channel and a Distributor/Producer. For a fee, TV Channels obtain the rights to telecast a film for a number of years and/or a set number of telecasts as agreed to by both parties.

Today, in India, film-making is drastically different than 10-15 years ago. In the past, distributors only purchased films after they had seen it. Today, possibly due to lack of content, distributors are not show the film by the producer(s) - instead they sign agreements based on the Star cast, Music Director and the Director attached to a project. The script is NOT the priority. Producers are given 50, 60, sometimes even 100+ crores by distributor(s) for a film whose content they have no knowledge of or have any control over.

There's only one thing that dictates the price of a films satellite rights… Star Power. The greater the number of 'A' Listers in the film the higher the amount the distributor and/or producer will receive from a TV channel. With stars like Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan and Hrithik Roshan, you're almost guaranteed 35-40 crores for satellite rights even before a single frame has been shot.

So before the film is in production the producer knows he will have 60 crores from the distributor and 40 crores from satellite rights and he plans his budget accordingly. Most films that producers claim have budgets of 80-90 crores can easily be made for 5-10 crores if you take away the salaries/compensation of the 'A' List star(s), the director and producer(s).

At the time of its release, it was claimed that Action Replayy cost 65 crores. In Action Replayy there are no sets, location, costumes or special effects which require lavish amounts of money to be spent. At most Action Replayy cost 4-5 crores to make without the cost of the 'A' listers - so unless the director/producer and stars were paid 15 crores each, there's no reason for Action Replayy to cost 65 crores. Since the distributors didn't see the film 'till the premiere they had no idea how bad the film was. The Hollywood film Back to the Future, which was the "inspiration" for Action Replayy, cost $19 million dollars to produce but you can see exactly where the money went when you watch that film.

Advertisers pay TV channels for broadcasting their commercial during the broadcast of a film because they are trying to target the same audience the film is made for. Based on the star power of the film, advertisers are charged a particular amount for a 30 second spot. Obviously, an 'A' list stars film would fetch far more than a B or C grade star.

Reliance Big Pictures released Kites and Raavan one month apart in 2010. Prior to their release Reliance had agreed to a deal worth 45 crores for satellite rights of these two films along with some 20 other old films from their library. But when both these films flopped, Colors TV channel forced Reliance Big Pictures to re-negotiate the deal and ended up paying 30 crores instead - the reason is simple, Colors knew they couldn't generate enough advertising revenue to cover the 45 crores cost.

At the end of the day, films are made for the BIG SCREEN, and although satellite rights have started to play a part in recouping the cost of a film, if a film flops at the box office it also affects the price of the satellite rights. So, unless a film can hold an audience on the BIG SCREEN the chances that it will recover its cost are dismal.

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tip # 31: Mindset

By Anant Mathur (May 19, 2012)

You may have heard filmmakers claim that they make films keeping in mind what the audience wants. Let me tell you, no filmmaker out there knows what the audience wants. Any filmmaker who claims to know what the audience wants is, in simple terms, "An Idiot". If filmmakers knew what the audience wanted, every film would be a hit. The truth is with every film that comes out its makers are taking a chance, a chance that the audience may like it. When more than 90% of films fail each year it would be a little hard for anyone to believe filmmakers know what the audience wants.

Although our social circle, spouse and family influence the kind of films we watch, most times, our mood or mindset is the greatest deciding factor. There are times when I could watch a love story or a science fiction or action film and then there are times when I stay away from them. It all depends on my mindset.

Have you ever woken up and been in a certain kind of mood - chances are whatever you were dreaming about has influenced your mood - you may not remember what you were dreaming about but it has put you in a certain mood. If you had a terrifying dream chances are that's the kind of mood you'll be in all day and you may not be able to explain why? Similarly, when watching a film our mindset dictates what we watch - if we are not in the mood for a love story but are forced by our friends or force ourselves to watch it, we probably won't like it.

When filmmakers make films they have no idea what mindset the audience will be in. They have no clue what kind of a day a person had. A film may be declared a flop because one of the most respected critics was not in the right mindset to watch that particular film.

There have been times when I've watched a film and loved it, then watched it again 2 months later and hated it. Chances are I was in a favorable mindset or distracted by something when I watched it the first time and when I watched it the second time I was more logical and the film didn't make any sense.

When I watched 3 Idiots, I didn't really want to see it, I had very low expectations from it, but by the time the end credits rolled I was totally taken by it. Even though I was not in the right mindset, the film was so good that it made me forget everything else and pulled me into the story. As a writer or director, you cannot control what your audience's mindset will be, so it's extremely important to give them a good product that they will enjoy regardless of their mindset. 

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Generation Next!

By Anant Mathur (May 10, 2012)

In the 1970s, Hollywood went through a drastic change - all the filmmakers who started the film industry in America were either dead or had retired from films. Biggies like Alfred Hitchcock, Frank Capra, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, James Stewart, Clarke Gable, John Wayne, Cary Grant, Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly were no longer making films. 

Censorship changed drastically during the early 1970s. Audience was broken down based on specific demographic characteristics, including age, ethnicity, education and economic background. The baby boomer generation - younger, better educated, with more disposable income - became the desired target audience for television programming and advertising.

Bollywood is currently going through the same passing of the torch. With all the pioneering producers, actors, directors, etc. virtually gone from the industry Bollywood is filled with youngsters targeting youngsters for their films - rarely do we see family films anymore. Today's entertainment caters largely to the youngsters or kids market. Even though the youngsters have grown up on television programming of the 1990s and 2000s, their tastes and values are often in marked contrast to that of their middle-class parents. 

The rapid growth of television channels in the last two decade has only inflamed the conflicts over programming and censorship. Subjects previously excluded from television began to appear with regularity. It was with the advent of Zee TV and serials like Tara, Banegi Apni Baat, Kurukshetra and Hasratein that seductive scenes came to be incorporated expansively. Tara, probably, led the way with a bold and blatant storyline, it was the predominant battering ram that broke down the restrictions placed on television content during the preceding twenty years. Frank discussions of sexuality, even outside of traditional heterosexual monogamy, became the focal point of many of the show's narratives. The serial also introduced issues of pre-marital sex, divorce, smoking, drinking, extramarital affair and live-in relationships as staples of its content. Banegi Apni Baat, set in a college campus, openly discussed condoms, sex and sexuality. Constraints on the use of profanity began to crumble as well. Writers began to pepper dialogue with language not permitted during the more conservative 1980s and 1990s.

The debate and struggle over censorship of programming will more than likely continue into the next decade. It's tough to judge what impact the current forms of entertainment will have on the next generation, but one thing is certain, it will be inspired by the thoughts and ideas generated by the current crop of Bollywood talent.

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Top Bollywood Actresses By The Decade!

By Anant Mathur (May 01, 2012)

Over the years there have been many remarkable Indian actresses. This post acknowledges the best from each decade in the last 60+ years. Of course some actresses had their careers overlap into the next decade, but I have kept them in the decade they became popular. Please remember that these choices are based on my personal preferences for actresses and should not to be misinterpreted as official results or facts.


File:Asin Thottumkal.jpg 

Kareena Kapoor

File:Kareena kapoor vaio launch.jpg 


File:Kajol at Karan Johar's 40th birthday bash at Taj Lands End (24).jpg 

Madhuri Dixit 


Hema Malini

File:Hema Bharatnatyam.jpg
Waheeda Rehman 

File:Waheeda Rehman.jpg 


© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.