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Open Letter to Teja
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An open letter to Teja

I am originally from AP settled in Silicon Valley, USA and an avid watcher of Indian movies. I watch Telugu, Tamil, Hindi & English movies. I try to follow some of the technology trends and how Indian movies actually adopt them from Hollywood.

Now coming to the point, I was actually disturbed when Teja stated that all NRIs watch bootlegged DVDs and do not deserve to critique the film industry as they are not supporting it but only hurting the cause.

What Teja needs to understand is that if you do not change the way you do business as technology changes, then you will be left to dust. Only those that embrace the new innovations will come out as winners. In this modern days, Darwinism still rules. Just the other day the Music industry folks in the USA collaborated with Sony to release a copy-right protected CD (Mariah Carey) so that people cannot covert music into MP3 files and share it freely across the internet. This was against the recommendations of technology giants like Intel - that you need to evolve new business models and plans in order to come out as a winner. What happened? Exactly, 24 hrs from the release of the copyright protected CD, there were solutions posted on the net to break the code and this was so easy. You need not be a hacker to break the code, just, highlight the edge of the CD with a black marker and its done. So what did we learn from this? How did the music industry react? It started selling music on the web where you pay for "high quality" downloads.

Now, a question to Teja. Have you ever looked at the quality difference between a Hollywood DVD and an original Telugu DVD? For that matter the difference between a Tamil DVD (made by Ayangaran in UK) or a Hindi DVD and a Telugu DVD. They are miles apart. The original-Telugu-DVD makers do not care about the customer. If they have a video cassette, they cut it into a DVD in Stereo (lousy audio or even split the 2 channels into the 5 tracks in Dolby Digital) and sell it. All they want to do is make quick money. So with this lousy quality, the so called original DVDs are no better than the bootlegged DVDs in terms of picture or sound quality. So knowing this, why will any viewer wait for the originals rather than go and watch the bootlegged ones. These days, all movies are released in DTS (which has 6 tracks) in theaters. How come the DVDs are not transferred from the film master with the same quality (if not on DTS, at least in Dolby Digital 5.1)? Now don't give me the cost crap. Telugu people are spread all over the globe and if not as big as the Hindi or Tamil markets, there is a decent market for them to sell into. By the way, I do not see any bootlegged Tamil DVDs on the market. Figure it out!

A while ago, I read an interview (Suresh from Suresh Productions, I think) where it was stated that producers do not want to release DVDs because they will find their way back to AP where the cable guys may screen it locally and the box office collections may be impacted. Look at the Western countries and learn their systems. You are only copying from a proven system. So it should work. If the producer has sold a movie to a distributor then let him make sure to keep a tab on the local cable guys in his area and take action against them. Hollywood movies are pirated and available in the US and rest of the world but they still make money. Look at the way they release movies to cable, video/DVD, TV networks etc in a systemic manner. There's huge business potential in this and you should not allow the local cable operators to control these areas. Think about a Block Buster video rentals unit in Telugu servicing good quality Videos and DVDs to the Telugu population in AP.

On a side note, Telugu film industry still looks at the number of theaters that a movie ran for a 100 days etc to determine how big a hit a specific movie is. The reality is it does not matter. The bottom line is how much it has grossed. If the movie ran only for 2 weeks and still grossed the highest then it's the biggest hit. Of course, the ROI on investment still matters. And, that's what Hollywood looks at and that's the system that works. There may be transparency problems with our system and reporting issues due to tax evasion by exhibitors/distributors/producers. But the industry needs to fix it and adapt this new system.

Film industry is a medium with a lot of business potential and it needs to be treated that way. The more you apply the fundamental economics the more jobs you create. Wealth and prosperity go hand in hand anyway and help to boost the local economy. If technology has increased the productivity in Hollywood, it will do the same for the other industries which adopt it.

I guess I ranted a lot. Bottom-line is; "Don't complain & blame others for your faults. Fix the system"

By the way, I watched Chitram and it's awesome. Have not watched Jayam, yet.



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