The recent developments in the Indo-Pak situation, triggered by the February 14 terror attack in Jammu & Kashmir’s Pulwama district that killed 40 CRPF soldiers, has had several filmmakers vying for titles like Abhinandan, Pulwama and The Air Strike.
The box office success of Aditya Dhar’s directorial debut Uri: The Surgical Strike has also fuelled the surge in such registrations as How's the Josh (Uri’s popular dialogue that has caught everyone's fancy), Josh is High and Surgical Strike are some of the patriotic titles that have already been booked.
However, there is hardly anything new or novel about it, says Anil Nagrath, the Secretary of Indian Motion Pictures Producers’ Association (IMPPA), India’s largest body for title registration. “Whenever anything big happens, there is a rush to register titles related to it. Like if there is an earthquake, bombing, riots or mandir nirman or floods—like Kedarnath—people go after that. Like Sarabjit also. We have had a lot of people coming in for patriotic titles,” he told News18.
Saying that the audience is always curious to find out what’s happening around them, Nagrath added, “A filmmaker is only creating something to sell tickets, to show people what is happening. He has to tell a story, which has to be based on our surrounding. You cannot keep talking about the moon, Jupiter or Mercury all the time. You need to be close to reality.”
He also reacted to a recent report suggesting that the producers fought at the IMPPA office for registering patriotic movie titles. “That is too much of an exaggeration. Yes, people have registered, but I have not heard of any scuffle. That has never happened in my office. At IMPPA, we are all dignified producers,” said Nagrath, who has been working with the association for 14 years now.
As more producers plan to make films/shows around India’s current political scenario, we decode all that goes into registering a title.
Who can register?
To get a title registered, you have to be a member of one of these four associations: First is IMPPA. The oldest and the largest, it has been around since 1937 and registers titles for all sorts of films, TV serials, web shows and music content. It has about 18,000 members, of which 6,600 are active producers across various languages and mediums.
Then there is Western India Film Producers Association, which primarily caters to low-budget and regional films. There is also Indian Film and TV Producers Council (IFTPC), which charges Rs 35,000-40,000 as annual fee. And finally, there’s Film Producers Guild, which handles big producers and has 10-20 members, who pay about Rs 1 lakh monthly fee.
It takes Rs 250 + GST for normal registrations, which take around two months and Rs 2,500 + GST for urgent registrations, which can be done in about a week to 10 days. IMPPA usually gets about 50-60 new applications every two weeks.
IMPPA sends all the applications that it gets to Filmmakers Combine, which is the apex body of IMPPA and Western India, both responsible for registering titles.
The members of Filmmakers Combine—which includes people from both IMPPA and Western India—sit together and decide which titles work or which don't.
Meanwhile, IFTPC and Film Producers Guild do it together under IFTPC. To avoid duplication and confusion, IMPPA cross-checks all its titles with IFTPC before registering them.
There are set guidelines for title registration. For instance, one title is given to only one person. No one else can have it. All other titles have to be substantially different by using various combinations of prefixes and suffixes.
Moreover, no title can be deceptive and acronyms cannot be used unless specifically registered. Every word in the title should have the same lettering and smaller fonts for any of the words can result in title being forfeited and punishment.
When registered titles don’t get used
A project needs to start filming within three years of title registration. If it doesn’t and someone else wants that title, it is given to them. A title can't be renewed unless the project has begun shooting. Scripting, pre-production or making music doesn’t count. You need to have shot a sizeable portion of the project within three years of registering the title to retain it.
Importance of a good title
Keeping a short, meaningful title is the most important, feels Nagrath. “A film’s title decides its fate. Many films have flopped or not reached their potential because of bad titles. First your title and then your teaser/trailer should make people want to see the film,” he said.
The titles already booked
Among the titles that have already been registered, include Zero Mercy Pulwama, Indian Strike Code Pulwama, India Strikes Back, Pulwama The Eye Opener, Surgical Strike Revenge IAF, Air Strike 26/2 and Pulwama 14th February.
So far, Bhushan Kumar’s T Series, Ronnie Screwvala’s RSVP, Vikram Malhotra’s Abundantia Entertainment, Sooraj Singh’s BLive Productions and Shital Bhatia’s Friday Filmworks, among others, have registered patriotic titles around the events following the Pulwama terror attack.
“There has been a greater rush this week,” said Nagrath, adding, “More people will come.”
At 65, Nagrath has been in the movies business for about 28 years. Echoing the patriotic fervour that’s running high across India right now, he said, “I am so proud that nowadays instead of fighting and calling each other names, we are at least saying Bharat Mata Ki Jai. The fact that something like this has happened (India’s response to the Pulwama attack), has made us unite as a nation. It’s good that more people want to make such films.”
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