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Corporate Bollywood now branches down south

Mumbai-based corporate film production firms like UTV and Reliance Entertainment are investing in southern films now.

What attracts them down south is the wider reach of vernacular movies, punctual release schedules, professional work culture and the presence of Oscar-winning composer A R Rahman.

Vikram Bhatt’s ASA Films, UTV, Reliance Entertainment and Eros International are currently producing films in southern India.

Bhatt has collaborated with Anees Tanveer, widow of late cinematographer-director Jeeva, for Muthirai, Athayum Thaandi and Pinkurippu.

“I have a three-film deal with Anees Tanveer, who owns Vision Jeeva Studios. The movies are being directed by Tanveer. Her husband Jeeva died in harness during a film shoot in Russia,” said Bhatt.

Tanveer says she has mixed feelings.

“I am happy as my dream to be a director has come true and sad because I am missing Jeeva. The projects will change movie trends soon,” Tanveer said.

After the success of Poi Solla Poroam, the Tamil remake of Hindi hit Khosla Ka Ghosla directed by multilingual director Priyadarshan, UTV is into joint ventures with thespian Kamal Haasan’s production house Rajkamal International for yet another bilingual remake of another Bollywood hit A Wednesday.

Titled Unnaippol Oruvan the film will star Kamal Haasan and Malayalam superstar Mohanlal. UTV thinks the deal is a win-win for several reasons.

“The remakes are almost risk-free, come out looking better in the south because of the abundance of talent here and are completed on schedule without cost overruns,” said UTV’s Ram Mirchandani.

Trade analyst Arjun Rao says Bollywood production houses have shown interest in southern projects because it’s easier to work with the actors down south and southern films have better market in the global arena.

“After a single hit, Bollywood’s rank newcomer stars demand huge fees and stage tantrums causing ulcers in producers. Southern stars don’t do that at all and are professional and punctual,” said Rao.

“But what makes the deal even sweeter is the fact that the south Indian film industry has better overseas markets with a captive audience. In today’s script-driven world, planned projects executed to perfection are the in-thing,” he added.

The success of Priyadarshan’s internationally acclaimed art film “Kanchivaram” co-produced by Percept Picture Company and the presence of multiple Oscar-winner A.R. Rahman are other attractions in the south, quipped Rao.

Reliance Entertainment’s recent release Yaavarum Nalam, a remake of Bollywood offbeat film 13B in collaboration with Suresh Balaji, has encouraged the company to take a closer second look at the south and is mulling two projects.

Eros International, with a 51 per cent stake in London-Chennai based Ayngaran International, has acquired Vijaya Colour Laboratories in Kodambakkam, the movie capital in this southern metro’s southwest suburbs.

The company is co-producing Shaji N Karun’s Malayalam venture, a Kannada movie being made by veteran M S Sathyu and Mani Ratnam’s bilingual Ravan.

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