Low-budget Bengali films raking in moolah: FICCI report

Kolkata: Armed with quality storytelling, the Bengali film industry is producing blockbusters at low budgets, according to a report prepared by FICCI which points at abundant creative talent available in Tollygunge.

"There is an increase in small budget films being made at budgets less than Rs 60 lakh. This stands as a testimony to the creative talent available in the Bengali film industry," a FICCI-Deloitte report on media and entertainment scene in east India, says.

The report noted that the Bengali film industry had of late received a healthy flow of investment in films released in the current year.

"On the higher side, the production budgets of a few big budget Bengali films have now crossed Rs six crore. Greater production budgets in large films have led to more sequences in the films and not just songs, now being shot overseas," says the report.

Out of about 122 films certified in 2011, the report says quoting industry sources, that only around 100 of them actually saw commercial release.

Growing approximately by 20 per cent from last year, the annual investment in Bengali film industry is believed to be around Rs 150 crore when viewed in terms of overall costs of production and marketing.

On the box office side, the report says, quite a few mass commercial films continue to find success through content adapted from other popular vernacular languages, primarily from the south, to cater to the rural and semi-urban audience.

The report also noted that commercial successes like `Bhooter Bhabhishyat` have helped sustain an alternative genre of content more targeted towards urban and multiplex audience.

Stressing on the need to develop overseas market by tapping the Bengali and Bangladeshi diaspora, overseas collection of a few films such as `Ekti Tarar Khoje` and `Jadi Ekbar` have crossed their home territory collections.

"Realisation from this market has accelerated with newer technologies and startups making it easier to distribute Bengali content across screens and geographies," the FICCI-Deloitte report says.

Bengali superstar Prosenjit Chatterjee says, "Riding on the similarities in our languages and cultures, it will be critical in future to embrace Bangladesh not just for its audience, but also for cross pollination of ideas and harnessing the talent in its film industry."

The report says that the shooting of Bollywood films like `Kahaani` and `Barfi` against backdrops of Kolkata and other parts of West Bengal is also an encouraging trend.

"It helps in exposure of acting talent in West Bengal to a larger audience through niche character-driven roles and employment at better pay for the crew behind the camera on the sets. Moreover, this acts as a stage for cross-pollination in terms of techniques used in the two industries," it says.

However, Bengali film industry still continues to grapple with challenges at the ground level due to issues of piracy and poor distribution and exhibition infrastructure that threaten the sustenance of this growth, the report concludes.


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