Haasan’s industry tip to IIMB students: Spend little, earn more

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Bangalore Mirror | Sep 28, 2013, 01.00 AM IST

BANGALORE: The keynote address at Vista’13, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore’s annual international business summit, was a slight departure from the usual. After all, Kamal Haasan, the veteran actor and Kollywood super star, hardly a conformist, was the speaker. He meant it to be an interactive session and so it was.

But it was the actor who neatly turned the tables on his questioning audience when he visited the issue of piracy by saying in his familiar drawl, “Let me ask you all a very embarrassing question. How many of you watch movies on torrents?” When a number of hands flew up, the actor quipped, “I love your honesty, but I blame it on your age. You guys watch movies on torrents not because you hate cinema, but because you love it. I too have watched my movies on torrents, but that is because I wanted to see what ails me (with reference to piracy).”

Even while his audience of MBA students wondered where the actor was leading them, Haasan went on to explain how he cashed in on DTH technology to market Vishwaroopam to an audience which did not have the time or money to make it to the theatre.

“A huge percentage of my audience comprises fans from yester years,” Haasan said. “Busy housewives, entrepreneurs like you guys will become, the ill… everyone has a right to enjoy good cinema. This is the main reason I took Vishwaroopam to DTH so that this section of the audience can enjoy my work at home.”

Haasan’s ‘speech’ revolved on the Vista ’13 theme: Inspire. Aspire. Achieve. Much of it was wisdom gained from years of constantly being under the spotlight. “In this country, instigation can be mistaken for inspiration, aspiration can be mistaken for avarice and mere activities can be mistaken for achievements. I have come to you with nothing but the mistakes I made and learnt from. But I have come here because this is the best place for me to learn from free-to-think minds such as yours.”

A s the applause and volley of hoots died down he spoke slowly as if measuring his words. “We are celebrating 100 years of Indian cinema today, but the man who started it all was an entrepreneur who looked at it as a business to mint money. Count the number of theatres and multiplexes today and take a look at the number of film institutes. While people have harvested from the industry few have sowed back. My request to you is to come to my industry with your entrepreneurial skills to make it a better place. Where is the opportunity, you may ask. I say, create one.”

On a question of what financial and business lessons he had learnt from his movies that failed, he said, “I thought smaller movies were the way to go, but then I thought maybe the big budgets ones are the real deal. But I was wrong there too. The real deal is to spend little and earn more. In this industry you have an invisible product called ‘talent’. The moment it gets noticed, people will cash in on it. The trick is to recognise it early.”
Will good cinema die? “Rome will be vandalised by Caesars and recreated by vandals.” But Haasan, known for his sense of humour, delivered his best when a student questioned him on his love for Tamil. “I love Tamil! It’s just that when I tried to say ‘I love you’ in Tamil on my first date, it was disastrous. Since then, I play it safe and stick to simple English in such vital matters.”

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