With dry and niche subjects (akin to so many Hindi films today) in most discussions, and panels that were far from effective, besides being completely predictable, FICCI Frames 2012, the annual international media and entertainment convention organized Mar. 14-16 by the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was a dull affair.
A fellow scribe quipped, “The whole convention has been quite ‘ficci’ (tame and tepid).” Said another, “The purpose of FICCI Frames’ existence has been fulfilled, with the government announcing that the analogue format will now be legally obsolete. From next year, there is little that will attract delegates and media.” With so many issues still pending, we would prefer to disregard this die-hard pessimist, though.
Before the final Valedictory Session, an annual commercial consideration to get media eyeballs and a stuffed auditorium, the conference offered up Karan Johar in conversation with the “Rockstar” combo of Imtiaz Ali and Ranbir Kapoor — an event that was nothing more than a simple 30-minute session of mutual encomiums.
Their presence made another thing transparent: that they would win the FICCI Frames’ awards that night, along with the even-more-predictable (and undeserved) awards for A.R. Rahman and Mohit Chauhan.
Ranbir Kapoor was the picture of dignity though, despite a few gentle remarks in a light mode. Candidly, he stated that his father Rishi Kapoor was watching a song from “Anjaana Anjaani” and commented aloud, “Ranbir, louder!” when he saw his lip-synch! Rishi was unaware that Ranbir was in the room, watching his dad’s reactions. This, he said, helped him enact the “Rockstar” songs in a deep rather than superficial way.
Asked by India-West to compare Rishi Kapoor with his son as persons and as actors, Karan said that he personally had been a huge fan of Rishi since his childhood and got to work with him (as a director) only in the forthcoming “Student of the Year.” With Ranbir he had only produced “Wake Up Sid” (like Rishi’s “Agneepath”) and was waiting for a chance to direct him. Imtiaz did not bother to reply after Ranbir interrupted and gave the superfluous info that Imtiaz had worked with his uncle Shammi Kapoor and cousin Kareena Kapoor as well.
The only interesting info that came was when Imtiaz revealed that he had planned the film with John Abraham and Ranbir had heard about it even though the film was to be made just after “Socha Na Tha” in the early 2000s. “Ranbir had heard a different version of my story and when I finally approached him he stated what he had heard and understood, which sounded even better,” he said. Added Ranbir: “So in a way it was I who took the offer to Imtiaz rather than him offering the film to me.”
The Valedictory Session is customarily preceded by a waiting game for the as-usual-late celebs that is packed with humor from a funny anchor.
In this session, the anchor asked for feedback on Frames from delegates as well as media, and one mediaperson stated that she found the important session on “The Art of Moviemaking: Director’s Cut” disappointing in terms of the unmet potential. Most of the panel, especially the Indian contingent of Imtiaz Ali, Anurag Kashyap, Zoya Akhtar and Dibakar Banerjee, did not have anything significant to say, and the moderator (Amole Gupte), especially, did an inept job.
A censorship discussion on “Censorship in India: Challenges and the Way Forward” with a keynote address from Leela Samson, the chairperson of the Censor Board, was much more enlightening — though there was no trace of moderator Kamal Haasan as well as panel members expected like Allu Aravind (Chiranjeevi’s producer-brother), Bengali filmmaker Anjan Dutt, Mahesh Bhatt or Kunal Kohli. Ramesh Sippy was the only filmmaker on the panel and seemed to be in somnambulistic mode, contributing only clichés and token statements. Samson kept gently correcting moderator-cum-panelist Karan Johar whenever he used the term “censor.” “We ‘certify’ films; that term is wrong and dated,” she smiled.
Considered one of the most progressive people to have occupied this chair, Samson reiterated that the film industry should be open to a healthier mindset of choosing their audience according to content.
When a filmmaker presented her woes about a short film on the widows of Godhra being repeatedly refused certificates and finally banned, India-West enquired about whether they had faced filmmakers who made outrageous visual or aural content just to land in controversies as a marketing strategy for a niche/poor film.
The session on “Women in Media & Entertainment Circa 2012: Leading From the Front?” had an excellent panel comprising Vidya Balan; Ekta Kapur, creative director, Balaji Telefilms; Barkha Dutt, group managing editor, NDTV; Usha Uthup and Jeni Tosi, CEO, Film Victoria. Anuradha Prasad, managing director for BAG Films, and Farah Khan, choreographer-director, did not make it.
Vidya (considered the “new Big B” as per the moderator!) said she was very happy about the chance to work in the kind of films she had always wanted to do. She stated that she had never been a “girly kind of girl” and her parents had a major role in that.
Ekta Kapoor stated that her entry into her career was more to “earn a bit for my partying” when her father (Jeetendra) had given her a choice of either working or getting married! She declared that she was not conscious of her gender for better or for worse, but admitted that mothers were more willing to send their daughters to work in her company or train there because she was a woman.
“I am happy to say that the girls we trained across creative and technical departments account for 40 percent of the leading names in television!”