The Economic Times

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MUMBAI: The dramatic turnaround of National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) — which went from being the driving force behind India's parallel cinema to the brink of oblivion and then back to scaling new highs — is now going to be used to teach Bschool students a thing or two about change management in organisations in today's fast-paced world.

Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta has decided to study NFDC's turnaround and prepare a case study spearheaded by professor Vidyanan Jha, of the institute's behaviourial sciences group, whose work focuses on organisational structure, design and strategy.

"NFDC is an organisation that had a great history backing classics like Salaam Bombay, Mirch Masala and Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro but lost its credibility along the way. In the present fast-moving environment, this happens to many companies, government or private, if they do not change with the times. They struggle and lose their way. NFDC is a particularly interesting example since here you have an arts organisation which was on the verge of closure and staged a huge comeback under the helm of its managing director Nina Lath Gupta," says Jha. Gupta, a former IRS officer was recently at IIM-C for a guest lecture on organisational change, a course for the second year students in the institute.

The case study, for which IIM-C has already initiated several rounds of meetings, will include the revival strategy of NFDC, which had gone from its glory days in the 1970s and 80s to becoming a practically defunct organisation, mired in bureaucracy. Gupta, who took over in 2006, paved the way back to glory through some tough calls: cutting the workforce, closing offices and revising the functioning of existing businesses.

The new initiatives introduced by her over time include Cinemas of India for production/theatrical distribution/restoration and digitisation; repositioning Film Bazaar as South Asia's global film market; and setting up NFDC Labs to impart training to writers and directors.

Films that have come out of the NFDC stable, as productions/co-productions in recent years include the likes of The Good Road, India's official entry for the best foreign language film at the 86th Academy Awards and the acclaimed The Lunchbox. Some of them like Qissa and Anhey Ghorhey Da Daan (Alms for a Blind Horse) have also picked up anumber of awards and recognitions. In November last year, NFDC was presented the Turnaround Award 2013 by the BRPSE (Board for reconstruction of public sector enterprises) for posting profits for three consecutive financial years.

"NFDC has become a very vital institution, successfully complementing private sector efforts, broadening the kind of films that come out of India and making a new generation aware of films before their time. They have created a disproportionate amount of impact," feels Jha

According to Nina Lath Gupta, the most important part of NFDC's reinvention has been the transition from an organisation merely extending finance for film production to a much broaderbased one involved in multiple aspects including production, exhibition and more. Right now, she says, their thrust is on building audiences. "There was a time when we became utterly irrelevant. The need to change with time: that's the most fundamental learning that has come out of this entire exercise," she says.

The NFDC case study falls in line with IIM Calcutta's ongoing efforts to build a repository of case studies. The Joka-based top B-school is looking at affiliations with leading global case clearing houses including Harvard Business School Publishing and Richard Ivey School of Business.