‘From Blighty with Love’: Britain targets Indian multiplexes

May 24th, 2009 - 1:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Slumdog Millionaire By Saibal Chatterjee
Cannes, May 24 (IANS) Indian movie buffs could soon have a slew of British films to choose from at multiplexes in their neighbourhoods. The UK Film Council has drawn up an ambitious plan to digitally distribute British-made films, both contemporary and classic, across major Indian cities.

“We are just about starting to set up the system,” said Sarah McKenzie, senior executive (international export development) of the council, which has a pavilion in the Cannes Film Market.

“It’s in the initial stages of development. But once it gets going, we would be able to screen British films simultaneously across multiple Indian cities,” McKenzie told IANS here.

It has been tentatively decided that the British film programme in India will be titled ‘From Blighty with Love’. “The word Blighty,” McKenzie pointed out, “has its origins in India (it derives from the Hindi word vilayati, meaning foreign).”

The plan is an offshoot of a hugely successful ‘Summer of British Films’, which the council organised across several locations in Britain in 2007 in partnership with BBC.

“We screened seven classic films every Tuesday across 50 locations. It was a special experience for the audience. Upwards of 62,000 filmgoers watched these shows,” McKenzie revealed.

The council is targeting several other countries as part of its international expansion strategy - Japan, Russia and China. “But India will be the first country we will enter,” McKenzie said.

The council is already in talks with a couple of major multiplex chains in India to take the plan forward. “We are also looking at tying up with a few celebrities, who will help us select the British films that we should go in with,” she added.

“The advent and growth of multiplexes has opened new avenues for British cinema. We now have the opportunity to bring in different kinds of cinema, a much wider variety than what was once possible. Moreover, we have access to far cheaper modes of film distribution today,” she explained.

The council, said McKenzie, is also exploring new co-production possibilities “now that a treaty between the UK and India is in place”.

She added: “On the back of the success of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, there is a huge groundswell of interest in India. We are keen to capitalise on it.”

(Saibal Chatterjee can be contacted at saibal.chatterjee@gmail.com)

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