Om Puri to head India Film Council

Veteran actor replaces Manmohan Shetty

HONG KONG – Veteran actor Om Puri has been appointed as head of India’s National Film Development Council.

Puri used announcement of his appointment t launch a new production initiative, “Cooperatives,” that would see top stars, technicians and writers take major pay cuts when they appear in one of its movies in return for an equity position and a share of pic’s profits. He said idea is to enable young film-makers to use big name talent, but still keep upfront production costs low. Other initiatives are expansion of support for screenplay training and film marketing.

Puri, who receives a three year mandate effective from April 4, replaces Manmohan Shetty the Adlabs founder, who last year quit Reliance-Adlabs to launch his own production shingle.

The state-financed org which is struggling to modernize as fast as India’s private sector film industry, also said that it had received Rupees300 million ($7.5 million) for production in 2008. It unveiled a slate of seven movies that it is backing this year. NFDC managing director Nina Gupta said that org will represent four of them in the upcoming Cannes market, where it will have a booth for the first time in several years.

“Bioscope,” an art-house pic about a traveling cinema, helmed by K M Madhusudhanan, is NFDC’s solo production effort to date this year.

NFDC has co-produced “Lucky Red Seeds” with Mirchi Movies, “Via Darjeeling” with Moxie Entertainment and “The White Elephant,” a co-production with NDTV Imagine will lense soon. Three others, “As The River Flows,” “Beyond The Fence” and “A Film On India” are in various stages of development or pre-production.

Shetty recently teamed with former Adlabs animation head Siddhartha Jain to form a production house I-Rock Media. He has unveiled big budget cricket movie “Victory” to be helmed by and co-produced with Ajit Pal as his first independent movie. Separately, Shetty and Chandir Gidwani, promoter of Centrum Capital Ltd., recently bought a controlling stake in new tech training company Framebox Animation and Special Effects.

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