"A blockbuster, today, is one which makes crores within the first few days of its opening. It is not determined by the number of weeks it runs," said Yash Chopra, the veteran filmmaker, who was one of the first directors to shoot his films in Switzerland, Holland, Germany and the United Kingdom, enamouring the audiences with his exquisite film locales.
In fact, a lake in Switzerland has been unofficially named 'The Chopra Lake' because of the way he has used it in his films. The founder of Yash Raj Films has also been honoured by the Swiss government for rediscovering Switzerland. At the recently concluded Ficci Frames 2008, Yash Chopra chats with Priyanka Joshi. Excerpts:
What, according to you, are the biggest issues faced by the Indian film industry today?
Piracy remains the single largest problem for us, which takes away a great chunk of money that would otherwise have gone to the box office. But the film industry has not been dormant.
It has taken some innovative steps like releasing movies with the maximum number of prints and widening its distribution network to fight piracy. This has contained piracy to some extent, but the industry does not have the legal authority to book the wrongdoers.
The Indian entertainment industry may be worth Rs 50,000 crore (Rs 500 billion), but Bollywood is losing Rs 16,000 crore (Rs 160 billion) annually to piracy alone.
How is the Yash Raj banner handling the film piracy rampage for its titles?
We are getting very aggressive on the new media and digital distribution. It is obvious to us that if we do not digitalise our distribution, it would be tough to grow the business.
Yash Raj Films (YRF) has a website where we encourage users to buy legitimate music and download their favourite movies. YRF's website, apart from selling Yash Raj Music label's physical products, has its own digital rights management platform that offers the latest releases for download in a digital format.
The songs are also available for downloads on iTunes and other leading digital platforms. I am told that the YRF website gets around 20 million hits every month. We have an Internet Cell that is responsible for the business development aspects in the digital space and looks at emerging revenue streams in the digital medium.
Is YRF also active in the mobile space?
We do have a mobile content division, which utilises the movie content to create mobile properties. We have strategic partnerships with mobile operators for mobile ringtones, wallpapers, games, among others.
As the Chairman of Ficci Entertainment Committee, have you initiated your concerns with the I&B Ministry?
During the Ficci Frames, we have urged the Information and Broadcasting Ministry officials to work out a plan of action against rogue organisations indulging in acts of vandalism, besides addressing the issue of piracy.
So, will 2008 be any different from last year?
We typically produce around seven to eight films a year under the Yash Raj Films' production banner and the YRF Studios supports additional films to ensure a sizeable number of releases every year with each belonging to a different genre.
This should continue this year too. Tashan, our forthcoming release, is the directorial debut of Vijay Krishna Acharya, the scriptwriter of Dhoom and Dhoom 2.
Next will be Kunal Kohli's movie, followed by the Ranbir Kapoor starrer Bachna Ae Haseeno and an animated film called Roadside Romeo.