Kulmeet Makkar
Former CEO of Producers Guild of India

Europe is a very mature market because the government in each and every country in Europe treats the film industry with pride and supports it with public funds. So you don’t have to raise funds privately. They are hungry for Indian productions. They get lucrative incentives for productions. So they subsidise your costs. They have a very organised way of handling the productions for shooting. There’s a concept called film commission. It’s a public-funded body that is responsible for supporting a producer. Europe truly believes in co-productions, partnerships with different countries. India has partnerships with France, Germany, and Italy. However, we lack cooperation and understanding at our end. But they’re very keen to work with us because they have public funds, which we don’t have. Because India is purely working on private funds.

Since they’re very keen to work with India. We, as the Producers’ Guild of India, have also been very proactive with them. Recently, we’ve signed alliances. We started with the UK, then we moved to Spain, Austria, and France. Now we have the entire European Union and the Nordic region, which was earlier only Scandinavia; now they’ve added Iceland. They’re very keen to work in India. They keep travelling and meeting us. So on average, my interactions with them, sitting in my office in India are at least two countries a week. That’s how keen they are. In fact, their high commissioners, their ambassadors, and their consul generals are their brand ambassadors. They go beyond what they’re expected to do. They come to us and pitch their countries. If they’ve signed an alliance with us, our role is then to support them when they come to India to meet with the industry. So we become their partners. They can make formal presentations, they can show locations. They can talk about incentives, the best case studies they have, what they’re doing, and what they’re capable of.

Countries prefer to do roadshows. They will come and hold their own event, because they don’t want the attention of producers to be divided among different countries. They expect certain things, which can be put in the contract. Saying that this is my crew that needs to be employed. You’ll have to showcase certain locations. These are the iconic monuments we have in our country that must be featured. Georgia has a base incentive of 20%, with additional incentives based on what you feature.

There’s a great example of Spain collaborating on marketing collaterals in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. So as part of that incentive process, you expect visuals in films, of certain locations, which can be used to say, “Come and visit Spain.”
DDLJ was a changing moment, because it brought in more global stories, more NRI stories, and younger stories. There were filmmakers who were young. If you look at Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, DDLJ – it was the moment when Aditya Chopra and Karan Johar became active in the industry. Although Suraj Barjatiya stuck to his home stories, these were the two young filmmakers who took films outside India. Like K3G being shot in London. That was the time when they realised there’s a huge market outside India servicing the Indian diaspora and the Indian subcontinent diaspora. Because Pakistanis love Bollywood. Now, because of platforms like Amazon and Netflix, we’re able to reach out to non-Hindi and non-Indian audiences. Otherwise, the majority of it would be the Indian diaspora. Very few exceptions being Monsoon Wedding or Lagaan…Stories were told keeping those markets in mind. Once you had the stories, you would start picturing them.

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