Archive for December, 2007

Year Ender 2007: Look Back at Kollywood

December 30, 2007

The year is ending but the movie mania in Kollywood continues unabated. The 75th year of Tamil cinema, 2007 has been an eventful year. Big films bit the dust, small films raked in the moolah, awards and kudos, corporates and Bollywood Khans teamed with Kollywood’s directors, new stars were born and directors turned actors.

Expectations rose drastically but did 2007 lived up to them? What sort of a year has it been for Tamil cinema? 105 films were released in 2007. The total production investment for released projects was around Rs400 crores. When including unreleased films and those under production, the figure could range between Rs 600 to 700 crores.

For the average movie goer it’s been a mixed fare. There were commercial entertainers like Sivaji, Pokkiri, Malaikottai, Vel and Billa on the one hand and films with unusual subjects like Paruthiveeran, Chennai 600028, Onbathu Rupai Nottu, Katradhu Tamizh, Mozhi, Kalloori, Saththam Podathey, Ammuvagiya Naan, Pallikoodam, Kuttrapatrikai, Evano Oruvan and Oram Po on the other. Kannamoochi Yenada heralded the family entertainer genre and the entrance of multiple corporate players. Polladavan appealed with its story of a man and his bike while Rameshwaram wove refugee problems into its love story.

The horror genre was revived with Muni and Sivi while Naan Avan Illai with its five heroines enticed audiences into theatres. Periyar, a biopic was well received while the snazzy flick Unnale Unnale infused new life into the love story musical genre. A film like Katradhu Tamil was produced by a Kannada producer while Inimey Naangadaan (the first 3 D non mythical animation film to be made exclusively in TN) received low media support.

Says producer KE Gnanavel Raja of Studio Green whose Paruthiveeran (296 days and still running) emerged a dark horse (with both bumper collections and awards), “It’s been a good year. Both big and small movies have done well. After 2005 (with the successful Anniyan, Ghajini, Chandramukhi and Kadhal) it’s in 2007 that business has grown considerably. Expectations are high from 2008 from Dasavatharam, Bheema, Vaaranam Ayiram, Kuruvi and Ayirathil Oruvan amongst others.”

As actor-producer Prakash Raj said at the audio launch of his ‘Vellithirai’, “It’s a momentous occasion that Duet movies, Moser Baer and Mirchi movies are making a film based on cinema in the 75th year of Tamil cinema.”

B Saktivelan, Distribution co-ordinator, Studio Green, cites several reasons for the upbeat mood. Says he, “The revamping of Sathyam Cinemas, the entry of Inox and the renovation of multiple theatres along with changes in lifestyle, brought in more audiences – making cinema a significant entertainment option for everyone.”

Vinod Babu, General manager, Inox, substantiates, “Marketing strategies like interactive red carpet premieres, Radio and TV promotions, Internet booking, NG pay via mobiles and home delivery of tickets have increased revenues. Varied content and easy accessibility to tickets has brought back audiences.”

Director Saran agrees, “It’s been a healthy year with a variety of films and corporate entities joining in.”

Moser Baer, Adlabs, UTV, Radaan Media, Insight Media, Mirchi Movies and Pyramid Saimira are just some of the biggies streamlining production, distribution and exhibition of Tamil films. New music companies like Shankar’s S Music, Prakash Raj’s Duet Music, Sathyam Cinema’s Think Music and the Times group’s Junglee Music launched in 2007, to produce quality music and break old monopolies, were set up. This augurs well for Tamil cinema.

Young actors like Jeeva (Katradhu Tamizh, Rameswaram) are excited about the quality of films churned out in the 75th year of Tamil cinema, “Overseas audiences have increased for films like Rameswaram. Refreshing films like
Chennai 600028 are infusing fresh blood into the industry. I am proud to be part of this change.”

But though technology, quality of films and experimental approaches abounded in 2007, better marketing strategies could have raked in profits commensurate with big budgets, feels R Ramanujam, Editor, TN Entertainment Film Trade Magazine.

Says Ramanujam, “Bollywood’s 360 degrees approach to marketing and promotion of content is absent here. For example, marketing strategies (like merchandising, co-branding and content packaging) could have made Sivaji a bigger success.”

Offering statistics, Ramanujam reveals, “57 new producers released films this year. But Kollywood has become like a tourist experience. Producers come with some money, make a film and then leave, as if they have come for a year’s tour of Kollywood.”

120 new screens are supposedly coming up in Chennai. But Ramanujam feels, “Many are in crowded areas like Vadapalani and Koyambedu. How will the city tackle new problems like increased traffic chaos and soaring land costs in these areas?”

Ramanujam sums up thus, “With 105 releases, it’s been a good year for cinema, modest for merchandisers and poor for producers.”

Kalaignar serial strikes a suspense chord

December 30, 2007

The first thing that strikes you about the Kalaignar serial is its name, it was christened by the Tamil Nadu chief minister himself, says the production team. Written and produced by Prashant Jadav, who was earlier with Balaji Telefilms, the serial is telecast Monday to Friday on prime time at 8.30pm.

Actor Devayani, who plays the lead, says, “This is the second serial for me. It’s just two months old. What makes the serial interesting is its story, which is not just a family drama but has suspense to it too.”

Venu Arvind, who stars opposite Devayani, says, “For once, I’m playing a positive role – at least so far,” he says, “That’s because we ourselves don’t know much about what’s next in the story. We do have a broad idea but the detailed storyline is as unpredictable for us, as it is for the viewers.”

It is only when they are called for the shot that they are told what the scene is. “Yet, the fact that the working style is immediate, it is challenging,” he adds.

Agreeing with him, actor Absar who plays Venu’s brother, says, “Devayani plays the lead and she is the good character but when it comes to identifying the bad guy, the story is woven in such a way that every character has a negative shade. Now, along with the audience, we ourselves are guessing who the villain is,” he exclaims.

For actor Latha who plays a doctor in the serial, it’s the way they film it, which makes the serial stand out, “Since everything is immediate, we feel we’ve done it in a hurry – in terms of dubbing, etc. But when I see it on screen, it’s absolutely flawless.”

What do they have to say about the unit? “It’s a very jolly unit. Even senior artists are extremely nice and I feel so comfortable working with them all,” says Devayani. Latha says, “Thanks to a unit like this, serials have become a platform for experimentation for most actors, especially women.”

Finally, what does the director Rajeev Prashad have to say? “It is totally Prashant’s brainchild. And our wavelengths match to a great extent, which makes it easy for me to execute the story written by him,” he says.

What makes this serial tick? “It caters to all members of the family. And the storyline is full of surprises. The serial started with Devayani on the streets, begging. That itself was a jolt. The following episodes revealed that she hails from a rich family. So, everything is unexpected,” he says. Here’s a serial that has “an element of tension and emotion, which most viewers expect,” says Rajeev.

Year Ender 2007: The Rise & Rise of Reality TV

December 30, 2007

The number of reality shows on TV this year clearly has paved the way for this new kind of programming. So much so that soap queen Ekta Kapoor too is planning to enter the reality TV scene.

When it comes to TRP’s it’s always serials that have dominated the charts, except, of course, when it’s cricket season. This year, however, at one point Sa Re Ga Ma Pa had the highest TRPS overtaking all soaps.

Film stars entered people’s drawing rooms like never before! To promote their movies, film makers and actors found the perfect platform. Year 2007 saw the new trend of actors and directors making appearances in reality shows as judges and simultaneously promoting their films. Indian television went global and an award show was held for the first time in Mauritius.

Ekta Kapoor-Smriti Iraani: While there’s been a lot of speculation that after Smriti’s exit from Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi there is a cold war brewing between her and Ekta. However, both of them have always maintained that they are fine with each other.

Rakhi Sawant versus Kashmera Shah: Both of them went on a complete overdrive during Nach Baliye 3.Rakhi was upset at Kashmera and then Kashmera was upset with Rakhi. And after all that the two looked happy with each other on the show.

Judges Row: The numerous antics of the judges from music reality shows. Right from singer Abhijit’s jabs to Alka Yagnik’s supposed walkout from a show to Mahesh Bhatt’s recent outburst and threat to depart from the studio! The list is way too long.

The 2007 Actors
• Divyanka Tripathi and Sharad Malhotra from Banoo Main Teri Dulhann have emerged as the most promising newcomers.

• Prachi Desai has had a great year from being a popular bahu in Kasam Se to becoming the winner of Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa.

• Ali Asgar and Swapnil Joshi proved their comic talent in Comedy Circus.

• Aamir Ali and Sanjeeda Sheikh for winning Nach Baliye 3 when not many expected them to go beyond the first few rounds.

Set India renamed as Multi Screen Media

December 21, 2007

Set India Private Limited has been renamed Multi Screen Media Private Limited.

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Set India CEO Kunal Dasgupta confirmed the development to indtiger.com, saying the new name was reflective of the company’s evolution from a pure television broadcaster to a multimedia one.

Going forward, the company is looking to actively invest in mobile, movies, internet, and out of home screens, Dasgupta stated.

Queried as to whether the change of name was an indication that parent Sony Pictures Entertainment was distancing the Sony brand name from its Indian broadcast entity, Dasgupta asserted this wasn’t the case.

The long-serving Set India CEO was at pains to point out that after the recent unveiling of its new network packaging, flagship channel SET in fact has Sony even more prominently displayed as part of the onscreen logo bug than was earlier the case.

The Sony board cleared the change of name late last month and it was internally communicated two weeks ago. In the lead-up to the name change, Sony had also booked the domain name multiscreenmedia.com.

As per its filing with the Registrar of Companies, Multi Screen Media has an authorized capital of Rs 100 million and a paid up capital of Rs 66,779,240.

According to the information available, the shareholding in SET India currently is as follows: Sony Pictures Entertainment, USA holds a 61 per cent equity stake, while 31 per cent is held by Indian partners and NRIs, and 8 per cent by Capital International, Japan.


Christmas Cheer with NDTV Good Times

December 21, 2007

Celebrate this Christmas, with ‘Around the world in 85 plates’ on NDTV Good Times. Watch Magandeep Singh as he travels to France and brings out fineries for its Christmas special episode. The Festival of joy is complemented with the best gourmet food in France, and some of the finest wines. Anchor and India’s most charming sommelier Magandeep Singh visits Lyon, France’s second largest metro on Christmas, a big city with the charm of the country. A place where children still leave hay and carrots in their shoes for Papa Noel’s reindeer and have a Yule log shaped cake for dessert. And if you want to see how the locals celebrate it, there’s always the Christmas market. All custom-made for a really, really, merry time!! Watch ‘Around the world in 85 plates’ on Monday, December 24, 2007 at 10:30 pm repeat airing on Tuesday, December 25 at 6:30 pm only on NDTV Good Times.We’ve all grown up with mystical and magical tales about a jolly old man who lives up on the North Pole. This Christmas, join ‘Me & Mandy’ in Finland as they cross the arctic circle and spend their holidays with the man in the red suit who has been spreading joy and candy all over the world.. From the command room to the elves’ school of Santa, join Devika and Mandy as they discover the spirit of X-mas, a fairytale that comes to life only on X-Mas day on ‘Me & Mandy’.

Watch ‘Me & Mandy’ on Monday, December 24 at 10:00 pm and repeat airing on Tuesday, December 25 at 3:30 pm only on NDTV Good Times.

On the Christmas special of ‘The Great Indian Love Challenge’, presented by famous Yudishter Urs, watch Thrity as she does all it takes to win a Longines watch for the love of his life. She dresses up like Anarkali and sells wine….it doesn’t end there….in the next task she has to make wine, this time….by literally crushing grapes by her foot! It doesn’t get any easier but Thrity is headstrong. Will she win the challenge and the watch? Catch all the surprises on ‘The Great Indian Love Challenge’ on NDTV Good Times on Saturday, December 22 at 9.30 pm.

Finally celebrate Christmas on Goa beaches and cocktails on NDTV Good Times as Shatbhi Basu explores Goa ecstasies on ‘In High Spirits’. This week the Christmas special episode of ‘In High Spirits’ takes to the sun and sand of Goa. From the cocktails to the water-scooters, from Brittos to Titos… watch Shatbhi Basu pamper herself at beach Aguada, doing what she loves doing the most and exploring this therapeutic destinations in this festive season. Watch ‘In High Spirits’ on Saturday, December 23 at 8:30 pm with a repeat on Sunday, December 24 at 7:00 pm only on NDTV Good Times.

Channel [V] begins hunt for ‘Campus Star’

December 21, 2007

Channel [V] is launching [V] Campus Star beginning February 2008. Through this competition, Channel [V] will single out one college from India that rocks on the college festival circuit, championed by one representative.[V] Campus Star will give away a cash prize of Rs 5,00,000 to the winning campus and “the coolest guy/gal,” along with a complete Channel [V] style makeover for his/her college.

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The channel is inviting entries from individuals with their videos over the Internet to select 25 contestants. Over the next few weeks, Channel [V] will zero in on eight finalists who will be representing their college on [V] Campus Star.

Announcing the launch, Channel [V] head honcho Amar K Deb said, “For [V] Campus Star, we have received great response from colleges across the country and are hoping to present India with the best amongst the lot.” In the 10-episode show, the final eight contestants will battle out before a jury panel, which will comprise both a specialist judge and college students, and for viewers vote over SMS.

Disney, Russia’s Channel One in licensing deal

December 21, 2007

Disney-ABC International Television has concluded a multi-year partnership with Russian state broadcaster Channel One. This agreement between Walt Disney Company’s international TV licensing arm and Channel One covers the licensing of features, live action series, animated series and made-for-TV movies, and also the launch of monthly family film timeslot “The Wonderful World of Disney.”

According to a company release, Disney-ABC’s total distribution revenues for the Russian market have increased by more than 400 per cent in the last three years.

In terms of cinema, Disney has also had a hugely successful year – Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End was the number one foreign release of all time in Russia and Ratatouille was the most successful non-sequel feature animation. Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, Disney Consumer Products and the Walt Disney Internet Group have also seen compelling growth in their Russian business over the past year, the release further states.

With this agreement, Russian viewers will get to see a slate of hit first-run features, including Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, and Wild Hogs and Disney/Pixar titles such as Finding Nemo. In addition, animated classics such as The Jungle Book, 101 Dalmatians and Peter Pan will be shown on free TV in Russia for the first time.

Most of these titles will premiere on Russian TV within Channel One’s film timeslot “The Wonderful World of Disney,” which will run monthly, for 10 months a year.

Cartoon Network and Pogo to celebrate X-mas with Shrek and Jerry

December 21, 2007

This Christmas, Cartoon Network and Pogo are all set to make holidays even more exciting with their programming line-up. Cartoon Network will present A Very Jerry Xmas, a weeklong Tom & Jerry shows while Pogo will be doing the national premiere of the animated TV special Shrek the Halls on 25 December.

In addition, Christmas special episodes of Noddy, Baby Looney Tunes, Foster’s Imaginary Friends and Mr. Bean will also be a part of programming on Pogo.

“I am sure kids across the country will enjoy Shrek the Halls and other programmes as part of Cartoon Network and Pogo’s Christmas treat,” said Turner International India Pvt Ltd vice president advertising sales and networks, India and South Asia, Monica Tata.Cartoon Network and Pogo are part of the Turner group of channels in India. Having shaped kids’ television in India, with the launch of Cartoon Network in 1995, Turner launched Pogo, a multi-genre channel, created exclusively for kids in India in 2004.

Turner Broadcasting System Inc, a Time warner company, is a major producer of news and entertainment products around the world and the leading provider of programming for the basic cable industry.

DTH to pave the way for C&S homes digitisation

December 21, 2007

Direct-to-home (DTH) technology is likely to pave the way for digitisation of cable and satellite (C&S) homes in the country.

According to a report compiled by Ernst & Young (E&Y) and industry chamber Assocham, about 28% of the 100-million C&S households in the country will migrate to digital pay television platforms.

E&Y national sector leader for entertainment & media Farokh Balsara said, “We believe that in the next three years, DTH would emerge the leader and drive the digital revolution in the country. DTH is expected to touch the 19 million subscriber mark by 2010.”

Balsara added that IPTV is estimated to have about 1 million subscribers in the same period. Currently, paid DTH subscriber base is estimated to be 3-3.5 million and free DTH services are expected to have another 3 million households.

“CAS is not likely to be the main driver of digital revolution, simply because cable operators are not geared up for the digital revolution,” he added.

Currently, local cable operators (LCO), multi-system operators (MSO) and broadcasters have a 78:5:17 revenue share distribution. This is likely to be redistributed and expected to be 54:23:23 for LCO, MSO and broadcasters in the future, the report added.

The report also said in the digital world, the online advertising pie would increase, even though ad spends on television are expected to continue to be the dominant advertising platform and will grow by 14% year-on-year. Balsara added that India’s digital revolution will have a huge impact on film revenues.

“We expect the home entertainment contribution to a film’s revenue to increase to 25% from the current 5%, in the next three years. This will be largely due to high penetration of DVD, reducing prices of DVD’s and decrease in cable piracy,” he said.

The entertainment report also suggests that digital music sales are expected to account for 88% of the total music market of Rs 4,200 crore within the next two years.

Radio City ties up with ‘I am Legend’

December 14, 2007
Radio City 91.1 FM has tied up with Warner Bros Pictures for the Will Smith starrer I am Legend.
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As part of the tie-up, Radio City is running a contest in the show City City Bang Bang. Winners in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai will win a 25-couple access to a weekend screening of the sci-fi.

Radio City national head, marketing, Rana Barua said, “All our associations are driven by the value we can jointly offer to our discerning listeners.”

Directed by Francis Lawrence, I am Legend is the fourth film adaptation of Richard Matheson’s 1954 novel of the same name. In this post-apocalyptic science fiction horror film, Smith plays Robert Neville, possibly earth’s only survivour of a man-made virus. He works to create a cure but is stalked by nocturnal mutant survivours of the plague.