×

Disney UTV Chief Targets Indian Diaspora With Brace of Local-Language Pics

International exec you should know: Kapur thinks globally by producing locally

In 2012, when Disney completed its $450 million buyout of Indian conglom UTV, there was concern in Indian filmmaking circles that the company’s motion picture arm would abandon edgy pics like the sex, drugs and alcohol-soaked “Dev. D” in favor of family-friendly fare. Siddharth Roy Kapur, managing director of studios for Disney UTV, put an immediate kibosh to such talk. “We will continue to make the kind of movies we always (have),” he said, noting that UTV product would be branded as such, while a separate slate of films with Mouse branding would cleave to family values.

The combined box office of Disney UTV’s five 2013 releases so far is more than $45 million, including directing duo Abbas-Mustan’s Hindi-language “Race 2,” starring Anil Kapoor and Deepika Padukone, which collected $22 million globally. In 2011-12, its last year of trading before the company delisted from the Bombay Stock Exchange in the wake of the Disney buyout, gross revenues were $78.5 million.

Kapur attributes Disney UTV’s success to a genre-agnostic strategy that focuses on helmers: “There are certain studios that are star-led, but we are director-led,” says the studio m.d., who recently married Bollywood star Vidya Balan. “We decide which director we want to work with and what stories they want to tell, and everything else follows.”

Kapur, 38, grew up loving movies, and always knew he would end up in the biz. (His brothers, Kunaal and Aditya , are an actor-director and actor, respectively.)

After earning his MBA from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Kapur learned marketing and brand management at Proctor & Gamble. In 1999, he joined Rupert Murdoch’s Star TV group as a strategic planner, helping to launch one of the channel’s biggest successes, soap opera “Kyunki saas bhi kabhi bahu thi,” before being promoted to head of marketing for Southeast Asia.

In 1994, Kapur met Ronnie Screwvala, co-founder of UTV, a leading TV content producer. When UTV was looking to expand into film distribution in 2004, Screwvala called Kapur to see if he was interested in starting a studio.

Though UTV has co-produced Hollywood films like “The Happening” and “ExTerminators,” its mandate as part of the Disney family is to produce films in the Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam languages for the Indian subcontinent and the 30 millionstrong South Asian diaspora.

There are plans to use the global Disney network to enhance worldwide distribution of Disney UTV films. “There is a massive amount of writing, directing and acting talent out there waiting to be tapped into and it is up to us to go out and tap them.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • There's Something in the Water

    Toronto Film Review: 'There’s Something in the Water'

    Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the unpleasant sights, smells and pollutants of industry have typically been located where the poor folk dwell, and police society needn’t notice. With the dawn of popular environmental consciousness about a half-century ago, it became clear that toxic byproducts with a dismayingly long shelf life and unknown (or, [...]

  • 'David Foster: Off the Record' Review:

    Toronto Film Review: 'David Foster: Off the Record'

    By the early 1970s, as the counterculture was dissolving and reconfiguring, there were new pop-star archetypes on the horizon that we still tend to think of — the glam rocker, the sensitive singer-songwriter, the hair-band metal strutter, the prog-rock wizard, the belting pop chanteuse, the punk rocker. But there was another figure of the era [...]

  • Bob IgerSimon Weisenthal Gala honoring Bob

    Bob Iger Would Have Combined Disney With Apple if Steve Jobs Were Still Alive

    Disney and Apple are both launching their own streaming services come November, but Disney CEO Bob Iger says the two companies weren’t always on competing paths. In an excerpt from his autobiography published Wednesday in “Vanity Fair,” Iger revealed that Disney and Apple likely would have merged if Steve Jobs hadn’t died in 2011. “I [...]

  • Aaron Janus Lionsgate

    Lionsgate Hires 'A Quiet Place' Producer Aaron Janus as Senior VP of Production

    Lionsgate has hired Aaron Janus as its new senior vice president of production and promoted Meredith Wieck to the post of vice president of production.  Prior to Lionsgate, Janus served as Platinum Dunes’ head of development, where he oversaw filmmakers Brad Fuller, Andrew Form and Michael Bane. There, he brought in “A Quiet Place,” on [...]

  • Ang Lee Reveals First Look at

    Ang Lee on 'Gemini Man' and De-Aging Will Smith

    On paper, Ang Lee’s “Gemini Man” is a standard-issue, shoot ’em up with Will Smith playing a deadly assassin who must battle a younger clone of himself. The explosions and gun battles aren’t what drew Lee to the project, even if they’re the reason that most people will show up at theaters when it opens [...]

  • Hopper Reserve

    Dennis Hopper's Dying Wish: His Own Strain of Marijuana

    Even as celebrity brands are starting to flood the emerging Cannabis market, Hopper Reserve stands out. The brand was launched by Marin Hopper, Dennis Hopper’s daughter from his marriage to Brooke Hayward. Hopper Reserve is a gram of California indoor-grown flower, two packs of rolling papers, a pair of matches and a trading card either [...]

  • Sean Clarke Aardman Staff Photography Bristol.Pic

    Aardman Appoints Sean Clarke as New Managing Director

    Aardman, the Oscar-winning animation studio behind “Chicken Run” and “Early Man,” has appointed Sean Clarke as its new managing director, replacing co-founder David Sproxton, who is stepping down after 43 years. Clarke has worked at the British studio for more than 20 years, including heading the international rights and marketing department for over a decade. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content