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Turner aims for the big screen in India

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media | June 27, 2008
In a first of its kind initiative, Turner International India has launched its theatrical division in India. The first production will go on the floors this year

Turner & #BANNER1 & # International has launched its theatrical venture in India. The company will develop and produce theatrical releases for kids and families. Turner International India is in the process of setting up the Features division and has made a new appointment.

Jiggy George, executive director, Cartoon Network Enterprises, South Asia, will handle the additional responsibility of setting up the theatrical division and also drive the licensing and merchandising strategies for Cartoon Network and Pogo in India. Chitra Subramaniam has been roped in as director, Features, and will work closely with George. She joins Turner from Studio18, where she was at the helm of the film production business.

Together, they will oversee all the aspects of this business, including production, marketing, distribution, licensing and merchandising and ancillary functions. George will develop the core resource team and formulate strategic partnerships with studios and distributors for the business venture. Subramaniam's mandate will be to create a talent pool and manage co-production and marketing of the theatrical projects and develop theatrical films in both animation and live action formats. She has, prior to Studio18, worked with Percept and with filmmakers such as the late Jhamu Sugandh, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Ram Gopal Varma. Turner hopes to leverage the power of the Turner channels, consumer products and new media businesses to market the films effectively.

Monica Tata, vice-president and deputy general manager, Entertainment Networks, South Asia, Turner International India, calls this an extension of the channels' vision to embed themselves into the lifestyle of Indian kids. Currently, the Features team is churning out ideas that will work well for India. Calling it a key initiative, Tata says, "We are at the critical phase of laying its foundation and are in the process of identifying the right projects, resources and also evaluating co-production options with studios."

While India will be the key focus, Tata says the content will be such that it appeals to an international audience as well. When asked about the recent flurry of kids' movies, mostly based on mythological characters, she says the opportunity in this segment is immense and that Turner will tap every possible genre. "We understand kids' requirement for entertainment and the movies will cater to that," she says. India is the first country where Turner has launched this division.