Content Drives Demand – Ronnie Screwvala on IK@W

IK@W -> India Knowledge @ Wharton
(Pardon that syntax, some erlang has crept into me).

Anyways, this time’s edition of IK@W is just great. Only very recently have I made it a point to make a note of K@W newsletters and assiduously go through their every article. And what a treasure trove it is turning out to be…

UTV’s Ronnie Screwvala on media, films and UTV

We are very selective. We like working with certain people — and that is what we do.The way we structure our deals is to work closely with the director. It
is imperative to work with a studio because the way the film is
marketed is crucial.

At that time, children’s programming represented a 1% market share;
today that has grown to 6% to 7%. That is because we have grown the

Sesame Street’s approach didn’t go down well at all; it didn’t
strike a chord with its audience. Localization, to me, means that the
content has to originate locally.

I think differently about localization than about adaptation or
translation. There is a huge difference between these three concepts.
If we had taken Shin-Chan and tried to adapt it for India, it
would not have worked; we just took the show as it was and dubbed it.
When we did our local, live action Hero, if we had done that as an adaptation, that, too, would not have worked in that context.

You have to remember there’s a fine line between localization and adaptation. For example, take the comedy show Friends
— friendship is a universal concept, but if you were to take those
relationships and adapt them to a different culture, it wouldn’t work
because those relationships are not real in places like India.

when one is looking at a structure, most people don’t want to give up
51% because they don’t want to cross a mental barrier that says they
are giving up control. But we are here to create wealth — I would much
rather do that with a larger partner.

Marketing can take a reasonably successful movie and turn it into a
super success, but it can’t make a good movie into a very good movie.
Nor can it make a bad movie into a good movie.

It’s nice to keep discussing this at conferences
and on the lecture circuit — but let’s talk about the ground reality.
In every business there is a certain amount of leakage. There are
look-alike cars for some of the world’s most premium brands; that is a
different kind of piracy. We need to figure out how to tackle it in our
own business.

When we analyzed the impact of piracy on UTV, apart from looking at
enforcement, we saw that after a movie was released, all the other
rights were available in two or three years. We decided to shrink those
cycles to three or six weeks, so the DVD comes out within four to six
weeks of the movie’s release instead of after six months or one year.
The movie gets released on television in three months instead of three

The more we contract these periods, the more we limit the impact of piracy.

Other articles for this week at K@W


gandhigiri ki chamchagiri

obsequiousness is a huge understatement. this is chamchagiri at its worst – or call that ass-kicking of a kind that we will never ever see for some time together. ok, i feel lighter now..

oh sorry, seems like you are completely confused, dear reader. here goes, let me give you a background.

the hon’ble [irony intended] chief minister of andhra pradesh, mr y s rajashekhar reddy came to power in about mid 2004. and since then started gandhigiri albeit of a different kind

  • hyderabad airport to rajiv gandhi international airport
  • nagarhole national park renamed to rajv gandhi wildlife sanctuary
  • rajiv gandhi institute of medical sciences
  • indiramma scheme for rural development
  • indiramma housing scheme
  • indiramma women employment scheme
  • intintiki indiramma [ghar ghar to indiramma]
  • indiramma sambaralu [indiramma celebrations]
  • west kandriga from east godavari renamed as indiramma graamam
  • rajiv internet village project
  • kukatpally housing board colony renamed as rajiv colony

the above list is just a tip of the number of schemes introduced since 2004. as you can observer, everything just about everything done by the congress government in ap has to be named either after rajiv gandhi or indira gandhi. just a gandhigiri of a different type, just too obvious to miss. two things to ponder over:

  • are there no other national leaders of india, pre or post-independence who deserve to be named after?
  • what have either of two have done for the state of ap? neither the chanakya, the late prime minister pv narasimha rao got such an honor inspite of all his accomplishments.

The economics of bouncing back

I had earlier written about how the immediate bouncing back of Mumbai from the serial blasts that rocked it looked more like amnesia of a city than a spirit to bounce back. Last Friday, Hyderabad rocked under the blast in the Mecca Masjid on Jumme-ke-din; 12 people killed. Small riots broke out, but came under control within a few hours.

Had that happened a mere five years ago, such peace would have been unthinkable. Curfew was imminent and the loss of lives would have been much worse. But this, this bouncing back to life? Amazing.

A city choosing to move on because the day to day economics wont work – we saw that happen in Mumbai and then in Hyderabad. Is economics to blame for people for forget about riots and get back to life as soon as possible, because their livelihood depends on them doing the work? A few years ago, the same youth might have been unemployed, angst ridden and ready to cause mass-scale destruction just on the call of a selfish politician who would pay them a 100 bucks, a packed of biryani and desi daru for the rioting?

Guess if thats the way economics can make people saner, then hail the free markets. The Hindu quotes this as change in the social matrix, I would say the truth, its because of the change in the economic matrix in the city. People are ready to work hard, because the returns are guaranteed; more work, more pay. It cannot get simpler than this.

Hyderabadi Road Rulaan…

1. The leftside is the right side of the road
Whatever the vehicle a hyderabadi owns, car, scooter, bicycle, karizma or a pulsar or a honda, the only side of the road that he will ever stay on is the left side. We stop on the leftside of the road, we drive on the left side of the road, we over take from the left side of the side.

2. All roads lead to Rome

In hyderabad, never even mind asking a travellers, rickshawallah or a shopkeeper or that ‘uncle’ on how to go to that Bazaar or koti or ‘some’pally or ‘some’nagar or ‘some’pet; frankly because they will only say you one thing ‘Seedhae Jaao’. Never mind if the road forks into two, you will still have to seedhe jaao. Even if its a left only turn, you will have to seedhae jaao.

3. Horn is the identity
In Hyderabad, it is but impolite to honk the horn. Yahan aiseich hota hai. If there is a fat uncle not moving his car, honk him. If there are chokra chokri on the road not crossing the road quick enough, horn bajao. Its not impolite to honk (not you amreeka return phoren log), its just a way to get the cozy road crossers back to earth.

4. Hit & Run
If you have narrowly missed hitting someone, just scream.
If you have narrowly hit someone, but only scratch laga and life is as usual, just turn back and say sorry and kat le or just shout and kat le.
Agar the hit was bad, if there is a crowd, just run. The crowd anyway wont leave you in peace and will charge atleast a thousand from you and then take a commission from it before giving to the victim.
If the hit is bad and there is no crowd, call ambulance and kat le.
If the other guy is dead, hmmm… kat le.

So, and if ever you are in a tearing hurry never never never stay on the right side, left lo and seeedhe chale jao.

(Take the above with truck loads of salt)

put mallika in jail

  • the customers are not at fault; the prostitutes are!
  • mr amitabh killed a man in a movie; lets stop him now itself, lest he kill a thousand men!

if we were to go by the logic of this man! if that ridiculous article is not enough, have a look at the first comment following it. thats some logic, if you can dare call that one. these rediff message board i say you, are great fun for bored minds.

dancing away to g(l)ory

as a student of pattern recognition and of computer vision, let me disclose first off, that my opinions are limited by my data set; and being a non-party type guy i am, its no way exhaustive, let alone comprehensive. subject to the limited data set, the statementes made here are necessarily sweeping and flawed. but yanyways, with the limited set i have at my disposal, i say these 3 lines only once:

men are lousy dancers. women atleast have grace. there are exceptions to this rule.

i have been a silent spectator to atleast a couple of dancing parties. and as i understand when i comes to dancing, men have a million left feet and they dont understand what it means. they look at dancing as just another exercise, a way to shed of those extra carbs.

‘a made for each other’ couple (thats just a silly formal prefix, dont really get carried away by it) walks in on the dance floor and there you have them dancing. the woman sways, swings, jives to some rhythm the man can never match. his movements is just a set of routines – step by step. i dont know if its a man-woman thing, woman looking everything as continuous process and men as discrete set of events… but yanyways, dont know if the thing is peculiarly indian as many things are, but then not much is to be said of something you dont know.

so you have men jumping, throwing their hands up in air, swaying rigorously, screaming but never dancing. up those strobe lights and there you have those new year resolutions to give solid workouts come into place with immediate effect. so you have men dancing the most for bhangra and turning totally helpless (!pathetic!) for anything less than thumping. the women though go just swaaaying to just a graceful set of movements.

ive seen this same thing when watching any serial which requires the men to dance; awkwardness is men’s inborn instinct to dancing. i proclaim with pride men dont understand dance as an art or craft; its exercise. achieving suboptimal heights and achieving zero grav for those few milli seconds is the man’s meaning of disco dancing. rhythm & grace can take a hike for all they care.

as i said, they are exceptions, and i know atleast 3 friends o mine who really understand what it takes to be a dancer. ladies, sure can try ping me to get in contact with those men; but then im no broker (no one calls me no pimp) and so will not assure ill help you beautiful ladies gracing this blog get in touch with the dudes.

any thoughtful soul can of course add more to this, but then as i disclaimed the opinions are a result of my data set. to change my perception i definitely would need a bigger data set. ergo, tickets to parties 😉

whoring in the film review community

2002-2004, Friday mornings, 11am types.
Frantic looks from watch to the professor; professor to watch. Class finishes; ask your non-interested geek friends to carry your books to hostel. Go (rush!) to the movie theatre, buy the tickets in black (obviously!); watch the movie; love it or hate it, dissect it. Simply every person in the audience donned their role of serious reviewer VERY seriously. Afterall we had to get the paisa vasool for the grades we had to miss for watching these movies 1st day 1st show!

After getting our share of enough bad movies, we changed our strategy, We simply started going to movies for 1st day 2nd show (the night show). But to help us carry us through the trauma, we simply depended on our good friendly neighborhood reviewer who would be the very first one to review the movies and by afternoon we were mentally prepared with our expectations. We have our own reviewer Jeevi who did scathing reviews of telugu movies.

The scathing reviews are still there but then he has mellowed down quite a bit. Reviewers are no longer passionate film reviewers. He is now no longer the guy who does scathing reviews. If its a huge star’s movie, it gets 3.5 no matter how many Zandu Balms and Asprins we had to use to get over the trauma. And a really good small budget movie would get 3.25 however hard it tried.

And now in 2006, we have officially sounded the death knell for sincere reviewing. For a really pathetic reason for a movie[read Sainikudu], an otherwise serious wisecracking reviewer[read Jeevi] had inexplicably chosen altogether not to review the movie(!). And of course who can forget the Rediff reviews where its now a official norm; every big movie gets two reviews: one bad and one good. Safe play!