Oscar-nominated producer David Womark meets Natalia Ningthoujam and says Hollywood has not really tapped Indian market
Academy Award nominated-producer David Womark sees India as a huge market, but feels that Hollywood is yet to tap it. The American producer had backed the Oscar-winning 2012 film “Life of Pi” that starred Indian talent like Irrfan Khan and Adil Hussain.
“While ‘Life of Pi’ is an international film, if you look at the box office collection…the majority of the box office collection internationally, came from Asia. Hollywood has not really tapped the Indian market. It doesn’t make films that cater to this market,” said Womark.
While shooting for “Life of Pi” in India, he fell in love with the country’s culture as well as the way stories are told on the big screen.
“There is a different way of storytelling in Indian cinema. I got to watch a lot of Indian films and I fell in love with the independent Indian cinema… the quality cinema,” he said.
He is back to the country for the promotion of “Love Sonia”, based on child trafficking.
“I met Tabrez Noorani (the film’s director) during ‘Life of Pi’. It was a three-year journey. I met Tabrez in the beginning of the film and by the end of the film, he gave me the script that he had been working on for seven or eight years. I read it and I was interested in it. Tabrez and I spent a year developing it,” recalled Womark.
The presence of Womark, actress Demi Moore and filmmaker-actor Mark Duplass in the film has given it an international appeal. Will the international audience be interested in the project that was lauded at film festivals in London and Melbourne?
“I think everybody will be interested in a movie like this, but we are essentially a foreign film. When you look at the business today, that’s how Hollywood looks at these films which in my opinion…we are in the process of transformation where there will no longer be foreign and domestic films because all the films now play everywhere, thanks to streaming sites,” he said.
“So ultimately, the format isn’t important. It’s the reach. The reach is international now. Period. So, even though Hollywood still categorises these films as foreign films, I don’t think it matters anymore,” he added.
For him, cinema will always be number one.
“After being in the business for 35 years, I think a part of any business you need to adapt to technology and technology now has made content acceptable internationally. If I am an Indian and I am in New York, I can see this film at some point on Netflix or Amazon after it’s been at theatres,” said the producer, known for his association with Hollywood films like “Hulk”, “Jurassic Park III” and “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”.
He feels that there is something fun about having “our own little two persons studio”.
“It’s not a big corporation. We get to do the discussions, fix the scripts, decide the cast. I think that is what is so attractive to me now at this point of my career. Once you start getting into the big Hollywood tentpole movies, you lose a lot of that creative control,” he shared.
“I think the creative control is the most important thing.”
“Love Sonia”, which released on Friday, also stars Manoj Bajpayee, Richa Chadha, Rajkummar Rao, Sai Tamhankar, Adil Hussain, Anupam Kher, Mrunal Thakur and Riya Sisodiya.
This won’t be his last Indian film.
“One of the projects that we (he and Noorani) are working on is based on a very famous book — “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea”, and the lead character Captain Nemo is an Indian. This will be the first time that we will do something like a bigger movie with visual effects, but still an Indian-based movie,” said Womark.