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Saleable content and enduring creative collaborations will propel India’s youngest corporate player forward

Being a market leader in creating television and new media content, in 2010, Balaji has briskly and adeptly established itself as a significant and hugely respected creator of filmed content.

The principal brand (Balaji Motion Pictures – BMP) created, marketed and distributed Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai, while its sister brand (Alt Entertainment) saw a clutter-breaking, sleeper hit in Love Sex Aur Dhokha.

In 2011, both BMP and Alt will forge ahead with vigor in their respective spaces. The mainstream features with scale and names will fall under the BMP umbrella with the more bold, new-age and unconventional urban-India content coming out of Alt.

We’re clear that a brand is built around content – and incubation, creation and out-of-the-box marketing of content is our strength. Both the company’s releases in 2010 became case studies in the strengths we represent. Based on this understanding, we intend to continue embracing the long and tiresome but satisfying route of creating content from scratch and seeing it through its life cycle to cinemas and other platforms, through robust marketing.

We will continue collaborating with existing and emerging directorial talent to produce the content they wish to create or suggest and subsequently create ideas for them using the vast creative think-tank that exists within the organisation. The clear approach is to back talent and content, over set-ups. Let’s face it - consumers are paying for content!

While our domestic distribution machinery will pitch for and release a diverse range of outside films on fair commercial terms, what we will not do is engage in ‘bidding’ for a complete film and pay an unreasonable MG for it just on the basis of a cast and/or 2-minute promo.

BMP and Milan Luthria will come together again after Once Upon A Time…, for Dirty Picture, which goes into production in March. Vidya Balan toplines this romantic drama, set for an end-2011 release. We will announce the male leads on this project very shortly. We take our relationship with Milan further with the keenly awaited sequel to Once Upon A Time…, expected to take off later this year.

The two Alt films releasing in March and April respectively are Ragini MMS and Shorr In The City. Ragini MMS, a Hindi-Telugu bi-lingual, is an edgy paranormal thriller. The principal photography of the film is barely complete and the film is already in public consciousness. Shorr In The City is a smart comedy set in Mumbai and contains three interwoven stories. The festival cut shown in Dubai, New York and Pusan received great reviews.

Balaji has forayed into regional cinema in the form of its maiden Marathi coproduction, Taaranchi Bhet, with Neeraj Pandey (A Wednesday), which will also release in the first quarter of the year. We’ve also signed Neeraj to helm Special Chabees, which will feature a top actor. It is expected to be shot later this year.

The fact that we build a happy and sustainable long-term relationships with our creative talent is evidenced by the multiple projects that they’re doing with us. On the lines of the relationships built with Milan and Neeraj, we have an understanding with Vishal Bhardwaj for a slate of high-concept projects, two of which are expected to take off this year.

Films with Rohit Shetty and Abbas-Mustan are also on the cards. Work is underway on bringing the immensely successful Kya Kool Hai Hum franchise back with a very promising director. We’re in active conversation with a host of writers, and with established and emerging directors to jointly create a slew of projects, which will be announced at the right time over the year.

Evidently, the momentum is high, and being the youngest player in the corporate motion picture space, we are working hard to substantially fast-track our growth. It is a competitive field and the key is to be proactive than reactive.

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