Content is everywhere

Written by Sudipta Datta | Updated: Sep 29 2008, 05:16am hrs
The borders are melting in the Indian film industry and how. If Percept is readying to launch its second Pakistani film Ramchand Pakistani this October after Khuda Kay Liyes great run in India, leading entertainment company Eros International has a line-up of 35 releases this year, including 15 in Tamil. With the multiplex boom, cinema is now being made for all kinds of audiences and production companies are going the extra mile to ensure people flock to the screens.

And scouting for good content, breaking down all barriers, is one sureshot way to bring people to the multiplexes When we saw Khuda Kay Liye at the Goa film festival, we were so moved that we contacted the Director Shoaib Mansoor, recalls Ashok Ahuja, Director, Percept Picture Company. We convinced him that the film should come to India. After its tremendous success, Javed Jabbar, the Producer of Ramchand Pakistani, got in touch with Percept.

So it is that Percept will release a second Pakistani film, Ramchand Pakistani, starring Nandita Das among others, on October 2. The film was slated to launch on August 1 but got delayed at the censors. The film has been seen by the Delhi Censor Board and referred to a revising board, adds Ahuja, because these are sensitive issues and everybody wants to play it safe. Ramchand Pakistani tells the real-life story of a Pakistani boy who strays into Indian territory by mistake and is put behind bars.

Producers are working out different ways of marketing as well. For example, a film like UTVs A Wednesday has a limited release but Indian Films Singh Is Kinng gets the widest release ever for a Hindi film worldwide with 1,350 prints across 1,700 screens. While A Wednesday has done reasonably well, Singh is Kinng had a massive Rs 59.5 crore worldwide collection in the release weekend itself.

If Pakistani films are coming to India, Hindi films are releasing there as well. Singh is Kinng had a day and date release in Pakistan with 15 prints. In Lahore Dha Cinema, it was sold out for the entire week in advance and had to run 1 am shows to accommodate the audience.

At the Rs 900 cr Pyramid Saimira group, the effort is on to create a story bank. Says CMD PS Saminathan: Right now we are not doing any remakes but our effort is to create a story bank which will enable us to do remakes later.It currently has 17 films under various stages of production. We have recently tied up a mega project and started producing a tri-lingual film called Marmayogi with a budget of Rs 120 crore, he adds.

As with top production houses like Reliance Entertainments BIG Pictures, the Pyramid Saimira Group is also producing content in many languages. We are also producing TV serials on Tamil and Telugu. We are starting in Kannada and in due course will start in Bangla, Malayalam, Punjabi, Gujarat and finally Hindi, adds Saminathan. It has plans to get Hollywood films and distribute in areas it operates.

The group has also entered China and we plan to get Chinese content and redistribute it in Europe where we already have a distribution business.

Saurabh Varma, Chief Marketing Officer, Reliance Entertainment, points out that BIG Pictures is working with all the prime talent penetrating not just in Hindi cinema but in other languages like Marathi, Bengali, Punjabi, Gujarati, Tamil ,Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and so forth.

At least two Hindi remakes of huge Tamil and Malayalam hits are in the works Aamir Khans Ghajini, a remake of the Tamil hit and Shah Rukh Khans Billoo Barber, a remake of the Malayalam film Katha Parayumbol which was also made in Tamil (Kuselan with Rajnikant). The Hindi hit Khosla Ka Ghosla is being remade in Tamil (Poi Solla Porom). Nishikant Kamat remade his award-winning Marathi film Dombivali Fast in Tamil (Evanu Oruvan).

Shyam Benegal who returned to comedy with Welcome to Sajjanpur, says markets are growing everywhere. The best thing is that young people can make films of their choice now you can make a film on a sub-culture and expect it to be a hit.

As a matter of fact, Rock On!! has done exceptionally well in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata. Says Varma: There has been an overwhelming response from all over for the film and it has collected Rs 35 crore gross (and still going strong) from just the India the atricals itself. Other streams like overseas, music etc are doing good as well.

Percept is already in talks with Shoaib Mansoor to do his next film with an Indian-Pakistani cast. Thats the little we can do to bridge relations between two nations, says Ahuja. And it makes perfect business sense too. Khuda Kay Liyes home video sales are soaring, its songs are among the top 10 mobile ringtones months after the release and audio sales are doing great too, adds Ahuja.