STAR Movies looks to connect with the Indian Diaspora

By , agencyfaqs! | In | March 10, 2003
The channel will launch a festival of Indian English movies next month

Nagesh Kukunoor's debut film Hyderabad Blues may have given the genre of Indian English movies that much needed boost in 1998, but it took a good four years for the format to come of age with the success of Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding and Gurinder Chadha's Bend It Like Beckham, coupled with flicks such as American Desi, Guru and Bollywood Hollywood, all vying for attention. If 2002 went down in the annals of history as the year of the Indian English film, 2003 promises to be even more attractive for this genre what with English movie channels in the country (that is India) wanting to partake of its success as well.

The latest to jump on to the bandwagon is STAR Movies with a clutch - around 16 and 18 films - of acquisitions. According to Tarun Katial, senior vice-president, content and communication, STAR India, "The festival of Indian English films will start on STAR Movies beginning April 6 with the screening of Bend It Like Beckham."

Included in the lot are Nagesh Kukunoor's Bollywood Calling, Rahul Bose's Everybody Says I Am Fine, Ram Madhvani's Let's Talk, Deepa Mehta's Sam & Me, Freaky Chakra featuring Deepti Naval, Aparna Sen's Mr and Mrs Iyer, Monsoon Wedding with Naseeruddin Shah and Lillette Dubey in the lead, Such A Long Journey starring Roshan Seth and Om Puri, and Ismail Merchant's Mystic Masseur based on a novel by Nobel laureate VS Naipaul.

Though Katial declines to comment about the cost of acquisition, market sources indicate that depending on factors such as recency and success, Indian English films could be priced anywhere between Rs 5 lakh to Rs 80-90 lakhs per movie. "These films do not fall in the realm of multi-crore deals simply because they are quite niche in nature," explains a programming head with a movie channel. "The reason for the sudden interest in this genre is that viewers can identify with it," she claims.

And that is the single biggest reason for the success of this genre as well as the rush to acquire the C&S rights of Indian English films whether created by an international director of Indian origin or an Indian director based in the country. As Ashvini Yardi, business head of ZEE MGM and English says, "You find these movies running in multiplexes, which does speak for its appeal and viewership. Though you have primarily two types of Indian English films - one with an Indian situation (such as Monsoon Wedding, where Indians were caught in a very Indian situation) and two, an Indian in a foreign situation (such as Bend It Like Beckham). These films are identifiable with its target audience unlike Hollywood films, which are aspirational in nature."

Incidentally, ZEE MGM was the first to set the ball rolling with a month-long telecast of Indian English movies in January this year. For five Wednesdays, classics such as Missippi Masala, Rockford, Passage to India, East is East and a film based on Asia's premier serial killer Charles Sobhraj titled Shadow of the Cobra were screened on the channel. STAR Movies reacted with the exclusive premiere of the hit English comedy American Desi on Valentine Day's following it up with a festival next month. According to Katial, the aim of the festival is to provide an "exposure for Diaspora cinema on Indian television". "Indians have never really been exposed to Diaspora cinema and this festival is aimed at doing just that," he adds. © 2003 agencyfaqs!

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