Mumbai attacks shock Bollywood

German producer among dead

The terror attacks in southern Mumbai have caused shock within the Indian entertainment industry, but given the scale of the attacks, the disruption has been limited.

Coverage of the tragedies, which left more than 120 people dead and 300 injured, has dominated the airwaves, with other issues like the upcoming regional elections relegated down the running order. “Terrible! Terrible situation!,” superstar actor Amitabh Bachchan wrote in his blog.

Among the dead was Ralph Burkei, the co-owner of German television production company CAMP, who fell from the facade of the Taj Mahal hotel, trying to escape the terrorists. Burkei managed to call a friend from his cell phone and told him: “I have broken every bone in my body. If no one helps me now, I’m finished.” He died on the way to the hospital.

The European Producers Club reported that Ignasi Guardans-Combo, a member of the European Parliament who has been involved in culture and media affairs, was among those held hostage in Mumbai. His fate is unclear.

While the attacks hit prominent sites in southern Mumbai, they were far from the production offices of most movie companies and Bollywood studios. As such their direct impact was modest. TV production had only just resumed after the craft unions’ strike and most soaps were not expected to air new episodes before next Monday.

Theaters across the city were ordered by the Mumbai commissioner to close Thursday and remain so until further notice. There are reports that some patrons stayed overnight in cinemas close to the attacks, notably new multiplexes Inox Leisure at Nariman Point and the Metro Big Cinemas complex.

With Friday typically the day of release, distribution of new movies is likely to be affected. UTV’s “Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!” is skedded to open across much of the country, though the company said that a smaller release is likely if screens in Mumbai remain closed. Mumbai Mantra’s “Sorry Bhai!” is on course to be released nationwide, though producer Rohan Sippy has postponed the digital release of light-hearted comedy “The President is Coming,” judging it inappropriate for the time being.

Distribution of prints from Mumbai to the rest of country could be affected if troubles continue or expand.

Mumbai’s domestic and international airports, which are located in the north of the city, have remained unaffected at the present time. Leading airline Jet Airways said Thursday that its flights in and out of Mumbai airport were on schedule. Kingfisher Airlines said it was reviewing its Mumbai flight schedules and a spokesman for Mumbai airport said international carriers were reviewing their operations status but was not aware of any cancellations.

In Goa, some 260 miles from the terror attacks, the Intl. Film Festival of India (Nov. 22-Dec. 2) was continuing with bizzers reporting that atmosphere as “tense.” Fest is home to a delegation of European producers and a jury that includes Venice festival topper Marco Mueller and Hong Kong helmer Peter Chan (“The Warlords.”)

By Friday, the authorities appeared to be regaining control of the situation. On Thursday night soldiers killed the last gunmen within the Taj Mahal hotel and Friday were reportedly regaining control of the Oberoi. On Friday morning there were reports that commandos had arrived by helicopter to storm the building that was the Mumbai headquarters of the Jewish group Chabad Lubavitch and where eight hostages had been held.

In another sign of normality returning, the Bombay Stock Exchange, which remained closed all day Thursday, reopened Friday morning with a modest loss of 1.4%.

The attacks have caused the postponement of sports and other events around the country, though their long-term futures and impact on media partners are not clear.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India and England’s national cricket team called off its remaining two one-day matches in India and said that the players would return to the U.K. However, English Cricket Board did not cancel the full scale Test (international) matches skedded for later this month and said that the team could return to complete the tour.

The Nimbus group’s said that the two cancellations would affect ad revenue for its Neo Cricket sports channel, but that it would not have to pay fees for matches that were not played.

A potentially bigger blow to the cricket mad country will come with the cancellation of the Champions League T20 international series, which had been set to begin next Wednesday. Decision taken by BCCI, Cricket Australia and Cricket South Africa will affect made-for-TV matches that were to have been aired by ESPN-STAR Sports.

Jazz Utsav, a three-day annual music festival due to have been held in Mumbai’s Bandra Amphitheater from Friday evening, was cancelled by organizer Bluefrog.

Away from Mumbai, the International Herald Tribune, part of the New York Times Media Group, has postponed a corporate luxury goods conference. Due to have been held in New Delhi Tuesday to Thursday next week, event was to host high-profile foreign businessmen and Indian trade minister Kamal Nath.

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