Fox passage to India

'Beauty' first in Hindi-lingo multi-pic deal

Twentieth Century Fox has reached a multi-pic agreement to produce Hindi films in India.

The first pic, “Ek Hasina Thi” (Once There Was a Beauty), will start production in August and is due for release by January. The thriller, estimated to cost between $1.2 million and $1.6 million, will be helmed by Ram Gopal Varma and star actress Urmila Matondkar and actor Saif Ali Khan.

Aditya Shastri, head of Fox’s Indian operations, told Reuters the deal covers Varma and production house SRB Films. He also said Fox is discussing two other joint projects.

Varma directed the underworld saga “Company.” His moviemaking mixes slick camera work, music and storylines with realism and gray characters.

Varma told the wire service that foreign investment in Bollywood could mean more quality films and a more organized approach to filmmaking.

“It will be more scientific,” he said. “We could get the data they have gathered over the years (on movie tastes) and convert that into Indian sensibilities.”

Fox parent News Corp. also owns Star TV, which has become the top cable channel in India, and Radio City, which has pioneered a radio boom.

The Indian government recently allowed 26% equity for foreign direct investors in the print media.

(Reuters contributed to this report.)

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