Behind Cannes fest glitz, Bollywood does brisk business

May 17th, 2008 - 12:13 pm ICT by admin  

By Jivraj Burman
Mumbai, May 17 (IANS) Behind the glitz and glamour of the Cannes film festival, it is hard business for the Indian filmmakers and entertainment houses camping there. Deals are being inked and announcements of tie ups made during the prestigious festival that began Wednesday. In the past, Bollywood had by and large given the Festival De Cannes a casual pass over and only a few bothered to attend it. The majority dismissed it as the haunt of the art filmmakers. Not so, this time.

So as Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan sashayed her way to the opening ceremony Wednesday of the fest arm-in-arm with Hollywood actress Eva Longoria Parker and French diva Rachida Brakani, in another part of the venue, a few Indian film companies, mainly from Bollywood, were neck deep in business deals.

IANS has reliably learnt from authoritative sources in Cannes that filmmaker Dev Benegal signed up Ross Kats and Susan Landau (of “Lost in Translation” fame) to produce his current project “Road Movie”, being financed by Indian Film Company and Studio18. The movie will be directed by Benegal himself.

Mumbai-based Infinity Film Completion Services, which has now started a production unit and co-produced soon-to-be released “Rang-Rasiya” with director Ketan Mehta’s production banner Maya Movies, has tied up Las Vegas-based Birch Trees Entertainment for world distribution of movies it plans to make for the world market.

Infinity will soon roll “Hands of the Dragon”, a martial art-based action movie, though details are still unavailable.

One of the company’s promoters, Anand Mahendroo, will produce the film. Mahendroo is a well-known name in the industry as one of the pioneers of ‘desi’ soaps on Indian television, including “Dekh Bhai Dekh”, “Idhar Udhar”, “Indradhanush” and “Daddy Samjha Karo”.

Ashok Amritraj announced in Cannes Wednesday that his Hyde Park Entertainment banner’s Singapore-based subsidiary, Hyde Park Asia, will set up a $70 million media fund to make four movies a year in different Asian languages, including Hindi, for the overseas market.

Eros International signed a lucrative deal with California-based movie download platform, Jaman. As per the deal, Eros will provide 100 movies from its library to be shown on Internet by Jaman over a period of three years.

Former CEO of Informatica Corporation (NASDAQ: INFA), a Silicon Valley company, Gaurav Dhillion, is the founder and CEO of Jaman.

Until recently, the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) was the only outfit which used to hire a stall to market the movies financed by it. But it always received a lukewarm response, not because all the movies it carried were un-marketable but also because of the flaws in its marketing strategy. So NFDC invariably returned from Cannes empty-handed.

Although NFDC officials looking after the film export ensured that they visited the festival, ostensibly to explore the foreign market for Indian movies, mostly those produced or financed by it, but their trips to Cannes generally ended up as pleasure jaunts at government expense.

It is only since the recent entry of corporate houses, that Bollywood discovered the Festival De Cannes is not all about glitz and glamour and arty affairs, but there is also a business side to it.

The change in attitude is now paying dividends. In the remaining days of the 12-day fest (May 14-25), the Indian entertainment corporate honchos camping there are expected to sign many more deals with their foreign counterparts.

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