| Amitabh, Varma and Abhishek in Mumbai. File picture
Calcutta, Oct. 22: Hours after the world came knocking, Indian cinema is going glocal ' supporting a global product of a local film-maker with local funding.
Close on the heels of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s decision to co-produce Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s next film, Mumbai-based Percept Picture Company has booked a foreign berth by signing on the producer’s line for Ram Gopal Varma’s first international project, Within.
If Bhansali’s Saawariya will be a Hindi-language Indian film with foreign finances, Varma’s Within will be an English-language international film with desi funding. Both the ventures are slated to start in the first half of 2006.
Sunil Sahjwani, CEO of Percept Picture Company, told The Telegraph: “It will be Ramu’s (Varma) first film outside his production company since Shiva. We believe in his talent and potential, and have joined hands for what should be his first international venture.”
Within comes just two months after Percept’s August announcement of the company’s first international project, the Colin Farrell-starrer Tree of Life, co-produced by Los Angeles-based Donald Rosenfeld and directed by Terrence Malick. To start “some time next year”, 30 per cent of Tree of Life will be shot in India, with Percept producing the local schedule.
For Varma’s ambitious project, though, Percept will camp in Manhattan once the maverick director is done with the remake of his own production, James. There’s a buzz of Within being the English version of Varma’s 2003 supernatural thriller Bhoot, but Percept officials rubbished the rumour. “It’s a horror film but not a remake of Bhoot. The estimated budget is $6 million (Rs 30 crore) with an entirely international cast and crew,” reveals marketing manager Manas Malhotra.
Once Within is over, Percept and Varma will come together again to produce his dream project Ek, which was shelved a year back when India-Pakistan relations improved. “It will only happen at the end of next year and will be on global terrorism. We are looking at a budget of $20 million (Rs 100 crore) and I believe Amitabh and Abhishek Bachchan have already been signed for the movie,” is all Malhotra is ready to divulge.
Percept’s international aspirations do not end there. Apart from Tree of Life and Within, it’s putting its weight behind the Michael Douglas-Aishwarya Rai project Racing the Monsoon. Then there’s Sacred Evil, based on the book of the same name by Ipsita Ray Chakraverti, featuring Sarika alongside an international cast. The Beatification of Mother Teresa is a documentary shot in Rome, Calcutta, Darjeeling and Delhi and boasts a cameo by Penelope Cruz. Finally, The Truck of Dreams is award-winning ad film-maker Arun Kumar’s feature film debut about a girl who wants to make it big in tinsel town.
Closer home, Percept has backed India’s first-ever 2D animation film Hanuman, now running in the theatres.