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Bengali films attracting investment of Rs 1.8 bn a year: CII-IMRB

MUMBAI: Original engaging content, a larger pool of good actors/directors and better in-hall experience can drive Bengalis back to cinema halls. Bengali cinema today releases around a 100-odd films every year, which is almost three times higher than comparable figures in 2005 and the total investment pumped into the industry is pegged at Rs 1.5–1.8 billion.

The majority of Bengali film viewers in Kolkata have not been in theatres in the last one year to watch a Bengali film despite the proliferation of multiplexes.

CII has partnered with IMRB International to conduct a study that focuses on understanding the emerging business models, importance of the internet and innovative viewer engagement methods that are vital for the growth of the Bengali film industry. The report also draws parallel with the Marathi film industry, which is perceived as the closest kin to Bengali industry in terms of content, distribution and production values.

In the districts around two-thirds have visited the halls to catch a Bengali film, but the frequency of visits are quite low, not even three films in a year. Around 30 per cent of Bengali cinema viewers do not contemplate watching a Bengali film in a hall in the near future and an additional 10 per cent have stopped watching Bengali films on big screens in the last one year

This is further corroborated by IMRB’s primary survey of 35 single-screen theatres across Kolkata and West Bengal, revealing 30 per cent occupancy on weekends and around 20 per cent on weekdays. The tastes and preference of viewers in Kolkata and the rest of Bengal are quite different which is echoed by only handful of releases successfully straddling both geographies.

As a part of this project, IMRB conducted a first-of-its-kind consumer survey across eight districts in urban West Bengal to learn the changing nature of film viewership and the general perception of Bengali films among its target audience. In addition to the consumer survey, a series of interviews were conducted to understand the trade insights of the film industry through in-depth interactions with producers, actors, directors, distributors, exhibitors and broadcasters of Bengali cinema.

The report titled ‘Bengal Bioscope: A Big Picture Outlook for Sustainable Growth’ was launched at CII’s event CII Big Picture Summit – Vision Bengal, 2014 on 12 December in Kolkata. The two-day event will witness eminent personalities from the regional cinema and industry alike deliberating on the ways to realise the potential of the Bengali media and entertainment industry by touching on key themes.

IMRB International senior VP, media, retail Hemant Mehta said, “We are delighted to partner CII in assessing the current status of the Bengali film industry and in formulating the strategies for taking Bengali film industry to newer heights. The study encompasses the key constituents of the industry—producers, creative artists, distributors as well the opinions of consumers who decide the fate of the creative products. With the increasing investment in infrastructure and production as well as growing consumer interest in regional cinema, we see a very bright future for Bengali film industry which has always been a flag bearer of creative excellence.”

CII DG Chandrajit Banerjee said, “CII’s vision is to take the Indian media and entertainment sector towards achieving USD 100 billion by 2020. CII expects that this growth will also come from regional media & entertainment markets across India. Regional is the new national and it fits well for the media and entertainment sector. Our focus on Bengal bioscope as part of the CII Big Picture Summit is a step in this direction. Bengali cinema has an enviable past and it continues to be one of the most vibrant regional film industries in the country. We at CII thank the key industry stakeholders for sharing their valuable views and supporting us in generating these insights. We are sure that the findings from our study will provide the guideline and a much needed fillip to the industry, taking it on a more sustainable growth trajectory.”