Sony Entertainment Television (SET), one of India's top three satellite television channels, will turn producer this August-September with the release of Pyaar Kiya Nahin Jaata, a Mahesh Manjrekar film starring Sonali Bendre and newcomer Diwakar Pundir. This is the first for any satellite channel in India, according to Rajesh Pant, chief operating officer, SET.
Films are the latest initiative on Pant's hectic work schedule. Having spent the last few years in building what he calls a "secure base", SET is now ready to move beyond television channels. Till late last year, SET, like most channels, had bought both post- and pre-release films for distribution over television or other media. In November 2000, it went the next step by bagging rights for international distribution of Vidhu Vinod Chopra's Mission Kashmir. "Then we thought, now let's get into production," says Pant.
He admits that SET reviewed more films after Mission Kashmir for international distribution but "the pricing did not meet our expectations", he explains. This year should see SET taking more steps on the films front. "We are in the business of entertaining consumers," says Pant, explaining the thinking behind SET's entry into films. "We are broad-basing our entertainment initiatives now".
Whether the films business will be looked after by a new division or a new company has not yet been decided, says Pant. Worldwide, Sony ventured into filmdom (read Hollywood) with the eventful purchase of Columbia Pictures and Tri-Star in the 1980s.
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