The strategy behind the projects we are undertaking next year stems from the fundamental assumption that the motion picture industry will undergo a reboot. The year 2010 was an eye-opener in terms of what films worked and what didn’t, and insights into audience tastes. Keeping all this in mind, our slate reflects a strong mix of films that are fundamentally entertaining and also other genres. Some of these are new, some have their own sensibility of entertainment.
Here’s a sense of the mix we have. There’s Tanu Weds Manu, which is a February 26 release. This film is a classical rom-com humour. But the interesting twist is that it will be the only truly Indian romcom – very earthy and seeped in Indian tradition – that has hit the screens in the last two to three years.
We have had an extremely candy-floss rom-coms that are aspirational and aimed at the typical South Mumbai, South Delhi crowd. But we have picked an unusual subject with an even more unusual lead pair – Madhavan and Kangna. The film has an extremely endearing quality about it and is set in India and Indian traditions.
Thus, it does not mimic Western traditions, nor is it in any way non-conformist with Indian tradition as some new films have been. We want to show that even in the classical entertaining rom-com space, one can cater to different sensibilities.
Our next few films are creatively supervised by Anurag Kashyap – Shaitan and directed by Bijoy Nambiar. One of them is tentatively titled Michael, which is directed by Rebu Dasgupta. Both are very talented, first-time directors and both these films will release in April/May.
We also have Anurag Kahsyap’s own directorial venture called Gangs Of Wasseypur, a two-part film one of our primary releases in the coming year. It’s a completely commercial vendetta story spread over three decades. The first part should be out by the middle of next year.
We also have our under-production marquee film for next year, which is the official remake of The Italian Job titled Players, directed by Abbas Mustan. This should be a late 2011 release. It’s a big-budget, full-scale, commercial movie.
Two films go on the floors in Feb/March. The February film is a co-production with A B Corp and will be directed by Puri Jagannath, a very famous Telugu director, and director of Pokiri. The film is titled Buddha and features Amitabh Bachchan. This will release in the second half of next year. The next film is the official remake of Chashme Baddoor, which is being directed by David Dhawan. It goes on floors end-March/early April and will release in December 2011 or early 2012.
Then there is a host of small-development projects spread across genres like paranormal, horror and edgy love stories, which are currently at the development stage. At least one of them will be released by the end of next year.
One important lesson we have learnt is that the audience has stopped viewing films publicised as ‘big-budget films’. They don’t look at things like a leading male, leading lady, big director, foreign locales, big budget when deciding to watch a film.
Films are now being evaluated on their story, entertainment quotient and whether they offer value for the money and time spent viewing them. The budget is of primary importance only to the commercials of a film. Gone are the days when a Rs 60-70 crore film would assure a certain opening and theatrical draw. We have had films like LSD and Udaan, which were rich in content. That is why they are talked about. But the reason these films were commercial and theatrical hits is they appealed to the right audience and had the right story.
Whats most important to us is the script, director and who the film is targeted at. We invest our resources accordingly to make sure our projects are leveraged to their right capacity. We are not budgetoriented. As far as our slate is concerned, it goes from micro budgeted films to mid range to larger, commercial films like Gangs... and Buddha and to an A-list film like Players.
Our first three releases have first-time directors – Anand Rai who directed Tanu, Bijoy with Shaitan and Rebu with Michael... We also have a host of new directors. The time is right to bring in fresh talent. There are a lot of budding scriptwriters, directors and composers, and we are investing in that. We are picking new subjects as well as established directors.
As far as marketing is concerned, we have noticed that out-of-the-box marketing has not fared well. For us, it’s not about visibility but about connect and engagement. Thus, we plan to invest in the online medium. The key word here is not ‘costs’ but the effectiveness of the campaign.