Fox reaps Bollywood B.O. success

Hindi pic's gross is double its budget

CALCUTTA — Fox’s first few months of distribbing Bollywood titles are already paying off. Bombay-based production outfit Pritish Nandy Communications’ (PNC) “Jhankar Beats,” which was the studio’s maiden fling with a full-scale Hindi film, has reeled in a gross of around $900,000 to $1 million.

That’s an encouraging result considering that Jhankar is a comparatively smaller Bollywood film, budgeted at about $400,000-500,000.

“This surely is an extremely successful performance and gives that much more conviction in picking up more Hindi movies. We are not targeting numbers. The emphasis is on signing quality products and associating with production houses which are like-minded and believe in the concept of revenue sharing and the importance of marketing movies,” says Aditya Shastri, Fox’s managing director in India.

The studio, he says, has lined up more Hindi films and by March 2004 should have at least half a dozen Bollywood properties. Already in Fox’s distrib stable are Hindi movies such as Lucky Star production “Pinjar,” three films from the PNC production line including “Chameli,” “Mumbai Matinee” and “Hazaro Khwaishein Aisi” and director and producer Ram Gopal Varma’s “Ek Hasina Thi.”

Negotiations are also on for the Khaled Mohammad-directed “Taizeeb” and filmmaker Ketan Mehta’s “The Rising.” “The Rising” is based on the legendary Indian Sepoy Mutiny in 1857.

Shastri describes “Pinjar” as the “feature film event of the year” on the Indian movie circuit. Inspired by the Amrita Pritam novel, “Pinjar” deals with the Indo-Pakistan experience. Fox has planned expects to circulate a fairly large release of around 200 prints countrywide.

Fox is also working on marketing “Pinjar” overseas. That’s a strategy, Shastri says, the studio will attempt with most of its Hindi releases, such as “Mumbai Matinee.”

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