'Striker' is first Indian film to debut on video service

LONDON — Helmer Chandan Arora’s “Striker” will become the first Bollywood film to premiere on YouTube internationally alongside its Indian theatrical release on Feb. 5, in a deal struck between Google India and pic producers the Indian Film Co. and Studio 18.

The film will be available free around the world except in the U.S., where it will be available to rent, and in India where it will not be made available to maximize theatrical returns.

While the deal is a first for YouTube, it is not the first time that a Bollywood film has been available day and date online. Production house the Rajshri Group premiered “Vivah” on its website on the same day of theatrical release on Nov. 10, 2006 for a fee. The film generated 4 million legal downloads internationally and was a theatrical hit in India.

Hemant Bhardwaj, senior VP of international business for Studio18, said, “This is a redefining moment. The success of this project will put wings on our films, which are rich in content but unable to find optimal distribution abroad because they don’t feature the conventional stars.”

“Striker” features Telugu-language star Siddharth Narayan (“Rang De Basanti”) as a young man adept in the Indian game of carrom who gets caught up with the Mumbai underworld.

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