India is the world’s largest producer of films, with a private-sector-led industry that generates around 3000 films every year. In the fiscal year 2020, the film industry in India was worth around 183 billion Indian rupees. National Film Development Corporation of India (NFDC) is a PSU under the Government of India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and is responsible for film finance, production, and distribution. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has recently announced the merging of four film media organisations with the National Film Development Corporation, including the Films Division, the Directorate of Film Festivals, the National Film Archive of India, and the Children’s Film Society of India.
In this article, we will discuss in brief the NDFC and the merger of these four media organisations, their significance and the challenges of the merger. The topic falls under GS Paper-2 of the UPSC Exam under the government policies and interventions.
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About the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC)
The National Film Development Corporation of India (NFDC), headquartered in Mumbai, is the principal organisation responsible for promoting high-quality Indian films since 1975. It is a Public Sector Undertaking under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The NFDC’s major purpose is to plan, promote, and organise an integrated and efficient growth of the Indian film industry, as well as to cultivate excellence in cinema. Over the years, the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) has given a wide range of services critical to the evolution of Indian film, particularly Indian parallel cinema in the 1970s and 1980s.
Over 300 films have been sponsored or produced by the NFDC (and its predecessor, the Film Finance Corporation). These films, which were made in many Indian languages, received widespread praise and won numerous national and international prizes. Bub (‘father’ in English), the third Kashmiri feature film, directed by Jyoti Sarup, is a recent example. It is led by Ravinder Bhakar, who also serves as the CEO of the Central Board of Film Certification.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has recently decided to merge the production of documentaries and short films, organisation of film festivals and preservation of films with the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC).
Key Facts of the Four Media Organisations
The decision to merge the four media organisations with the NFDC is in line with the Bimal Julka-led expert committee’s (2020) report on the rationalisation, closure and merger of film media units.
- Directorate of Film Festivals:
The Directorate of Film Festivals was established in 1973 by the Government of India under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting with the goal of promoting Indian cinema. Through film-based cultural exchanges, the Directorate of Film Festivals also aims to enhance intercultural understanding.
- Films Division:
The Films Division is the oldest of the four departments, having been founded in 1948. It was established primarily to develop documentaries and news magazines to promote government programmes and to preserve a cinematic record of Indian history.
- Children’s Film Society of India:
The Children’s Film Society of India (CFSI) began operations in 1955 as an autonomous agency within the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. CFSI encourages films that give children good and wholesome pleasure, broadening their viewpoint and encouraging them to think about the world around them.
- National Film Archives of India:
The National Film Archives of India (NFAI) was founded in 1964 with the primary goal of collecting and conserving the Indian cinematic legacy.
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Challenges of the NFDC Merger with 4 Media Organisations
- Lack of a proper strategy for the merger:
- There is no definite strategy for transferring archives since celluloid (the substance used in the cinematographic film) is a brittle and combustible material. If the archives do not remain autonomous public institutions, they will definitely be tampered with, damaged, or destroyed in perpetuity.
- NFDC- a loss-making corporation:
- It has been reported that the four public-funded agencies are being amalgamated into a loss-making corporation. If NFDC does not create a profit, there may be a rationale for disinvestment.
Significance of the Merger
- Strong Impetus to Film Production:
It will provide a strong impetus for the production of films of all genres, including feature films, documentaries, children’s films, and animation films, as well as film promotion through participation in various international festivals and the organisation of various domestic festivals, the preservation of film content, digitisation and restoration of films, and distribution and outreach activities. The assets accessible with these units, however, would be owned by the Government of India.
- Improved Coordination:
Bringing all of these operations under one administration would decrease overlap and ensure better utilisation of public resources.
The vision of the new entity will be to ensure balanced and focused development of Indian cinema in all its genres-feature films, including films /content for the OTT platforms, children’s content, animation, short films and documentaries. The consolidation of Film Media Units under a single corporation would result in greater synergy among the diverse operations, as well as better and more effective usage of existing infrastructure and staff. This will result in less duplication of activity and immediate savings to the exchequer.
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