‘I hope that films across genres that cater to different sets of audiences continue to do well.’

My 2016 wishlist: Akshaye Rathi, film exhibitor and distributor
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What I liked about 2015 was that films across genres and categories clicked with audiences. Tiny films did well, as did big-budget movies like Baahubali and Bajrangi Bhaijaan and mid-budget ones like Tanu Weds Manu Returns. The variety has been overwhelming – there has been Gabbar as well as Baby, Dilwale as well as Bajirao Mastani, Piku as well as Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2. I hope that films across genres that cater to different sets of audiences continue to do well. If you milk a genre, like the remake of the Southern action movie, the audience starts to experience fatigue. It is extremely important to strike a balance at regular intervals and give all kinds of movies to audiences.

In terms of marketing and publicity, I hope we learn from Hollywood. We need to involve marketing executives in promotions right from the script stage itself. We cannot continue to follow a vanilla template when it comes to movie promotions. You do need platforms like the television show Comedy Nights with Kapil to create awareness, but you also need customised campaigns.

In terms of the Rs 300-crore expected box office from big-budget films, we are pushing towards insanity on this front. To increase business, you should not be increasing ticket prices but footfalls. If you keep charging more money per ticket from a shrinking audience, there is no way they will watch more films. By charging between Rs 750 and Rs 1,200 per person, you are only pushing them towards piracy. We need to provide entertainment that is at a price capable of combating piracy. Egos need to go out of the window here – we need to pinpoint who the core audience is and sell the product at the right price. A Bajrangi Bhaijaan cannot cost the same as a Talvar.

We also need to work on showcasing films in cinemas. We saw this with films like Piku,Talvar and Baahubali. We especially noticed this with Baahubali, which came a week before Bajrangi Bhaijaan. Had Baahubali not been given the right scope by exhibitors, we would have had to live with the guilt of preventing it from becoming a phenomenon. Especially for smaller films, showcasing is very important. Movies like Talvar and Pikuneed shelf life.

We also need to invest much more in writing and researching scripts. When I hear interviews in which a writer or director says that he finished the script in two months, well, that is not something to be proud of. Scriptwriters certainly need to be paid much better.

We also need to think hard about what we spend on. Our biggest spend right now is talent. But if you pay somebody Rs 30 crores for a film that costs Rs 20 crores to make, that is not intelligent. Movies don’t fail us, the budgets do.