Interview with Harish Dayani of Moserbaer
Posted by Arjun Sekhri on June 27, 2009 | No Comments
What got you into the entertainment business?
I’ve been in this business for more than a decade, so for you to say what got me into the business, is now history. From Sales and Marketing in a traditional corporate set up in 1996 I moved to HMV and was heading that unit for a while and eventually made it here.
So your company Moser Baer
See this is rather simple, we are the second largest blank disc maker in the world, so the economies of scale are always there and a disc can be made by us at a price that not too many people in the world can match. Therefore it has the capacity on one hand and the economies of scale on the other hand. Hence it was a forward integration for us, in a rather obvious way. And forward integration for a product like this in India, there is nothing like Bollywood. We entered the entertainment market a couple of years ago and so far the journey has been quite exciting.
What has been the impact of the global meltdown ?
The problem with the film industry in India, has less to do with the global meltdown or recession, it is more to do with a cost structure that has gone haywire in the last one and a half years. So while the global meltdown and recession have been a contributing factor, it is not the main factor, in the correction that is actually happening in the industry. The other problem is piracy, when you have a product available on Friday morning or Sat morning of the theatrical release then you are losing out on a lot of legitimate revenue. This large scale piracy is also enhancing the suffering of the industry. Hence we need strong enforcement and also we need to explore if the window between a film release and it’s DVD/Cable availability can be shortened. Currently due to the 6 to 8 week window of legitimate disc release, the pirates make use of the window and almost all the revenue is lost. It would be a lot better from a revenue perspective if the legitimate dvd is released within a shorter window of time.
Do you see enforcement increase in the near future against piracy?
The industry has to come together and understand and realize that too much of the revenue is being lost. Revenue upward of Rs 2000 crores is being lost to piracy, currently in the industry. If that revenue is captured you will find this whole business becoming extremely viable.
So let’s talk about your production business. Shaurya was a film which was a “content” film as opposed to a star laden film, is that going to be the future of films coming out of your production house?
I don’t know if I ‘m going to put everything in a compartment. The way I see the business I will make a film in the cost structure that the film deserves. And therefore whether it is small, medium or big is something that is irrelevant. If a big film has a certain capital potential and can get a captive consumer, then we will accept that as our business model and accept that the film will be made in that cost structure. But if the big film is at an unacceptable cost structure then I’d rather not go that route.
Is RoI more important to you than gross revenue?
We are in the business of making money, and if it makes no money for us we have no business being in this business. The cost structure is important, whether a film is small, medium or big, if the cost structure gets me a return, then I will make it. A small film can also loose money like a big film and contrary also earn money, more than a big film, hence I will not compartmentalize my film making process but will be driven by effective cost structures and then it can be any size of film.
Can you talk about the upcoming films from the Moser Baer banner?
We have a film which is releasing in two weeks time, it is called Sankat City, it is the complete opposite of what Shaurya was, which was more content driven and sensible, this one is full of nonsical humor and full of fun and we are not apologetic about it at all. Again going with our philosophy of all kinds of films coming from our company. Another film that is coming out is a political satire and also a humor laden is called Rajdhani Express, followed by a horror genre called Hide N Seek, which will be releasing probably in Dec and in between two more films in Hindi are going to be launched, one is going to be directed by Priyadarshan and the other is going to be directed by Samad Khan, who directed Shaurya. Then we have four film in Tamil, two in Malyalam amongst others.
Any plans for Moser Baer to enter the television industry?
Operationally we are just a 24 month old company, but an entertainment one, so we will look in the future at all the various forms of the entertainment business. Although we would like to stabilize one business and then look at the other one’s.
Moser Baer is already a fairly well known name in Silicon Valley, are there plans for any collaboration between Hollywood and your company?
Of course I would love to. One the one hand we are India’s largest home video company and we would love to collaborate with all the Hollywood studios to have their videos released in India under the Moser Baer label. Then we also have the production business and if any studio wants to have a foothold in India, we would be only to willing to collaborate with them.
What’s your take as far as the Indian audience is concerned, on Video on Demand?
Video on Demand at this stage is relatively small as far as the revenue size is concerned. A lot of the content is available free and no matter where you live, if content is available free, you will not pay to download it. Then we also have the same piracy issue. Why would anyone pay a dollar for a Video on Demand, when the same pirated DVD can be obtained for forty cents, so piracy is hurting everyone.
Interviewed by Arjun Shekri