CANNES — A company looking to bridge the gap between Bollywood and Hollywood is being launched in Cannes by Canadian-Indian showbiz entrepreneur Daljit (DJ) Parmar who has teamed with U.S. producer Hunt Lowry (“Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood”) to develop a $90 million slate of official Bollywood remakes of Hollywood hits.
Original Entertainment is in advanced talks with several studios, and expects to close remake deals on marquee titles in the next few weeks.
The duo have secured an initial $10 million from equity investors in the Middle East and Asia who will provide the remainder once the pics, which will film in India, are fully packaged.
“Right now in India there is a kind of flux that’s happening: Basically, Bollywood producers have been ripping off Hollywood,” Parmar said. “We are going to get in there and take the bull by its horns with this new business model.” The remakes dynamic can also work in the other direction, he said.
Lowry told Variety that he and Parmar, who grew up in Canada and is the nephew of the late Bollywood multihyphenate Mehmood, began laying the groundwork for the venture two years ago.
“There’s such a massive amount of titles to draw upon,” he said. “We’re looking to do mainstream movies — comedies, action-adventure, romance.”
Lowry, who has a first-look deal with Warner Bros. through his Roserock banner, said he spent six months in India last fall setting up this new venture.
“We’ve been talking with a lot of different players and have set up a lot of high-profile deals,” he said. “We’re planning on being in production on several in 2013.”
The films should carry a strong worldwide appeal because of the popularity of Bollywood titles outside India, Lowry said.
Original Entertainment, incorporated in India, is based in Mumbai, Vancouver and L.A.
Kulmeet Makkar, CEO of India’s Film and Television Producers Guild is a board member.
He said, “It’s a unique and timely business model that allows a much larger Indian audience to experience Hollywood films in their own language. At the same time, this model opens a brand new opportunity for Hollywood right holders in India.”
The majors, especially Sony, Disney and Fox, are already dubbing films in local languages to cash in on India’s huge market. It also prevents Bollywood copying films — this year’s hit, “Agent Vinod,” mixes James Bond and Jason Bourne, while 2008 hit “Ghajini” clearly references “Memento.” The majors are also creating local-lingo pics.
(Naman Ramachandran in London contributed to this report.)