Vidhu Vinod Chopra poses in front of a poster of his movie in Cannes
Cannes, May 16: The Ambanis dont do things in small ways — and today Anil Ambani chose Cannes to make public what the media had been promised would be information on a major and unique event.
The news conference had been organised by DDA, a PR firm which usually handles established American and European clients. In the last few days, its publicists have been calling up journalists to make sure they would be in the Salon Diane of the Majestic Hotel to hear the announcement at 10am today.
It was left to Amit Khanna, chairman of Anil Ambanis Reliance Entertainment Pvt Ltd, henceforth renamed the Reliance Big Entertainment, to drop the bombshell — the group would invest $1 billion (around Rs 4,250 crore) to change the face of the Indian movie industry as we have known it.
To show Ambani means business, 69 movies are on the slate, the biggest being Vidhu Vinod Chopras Broken Horses. The only thing Indian about it will be my accent, Chopra later told The Telegraph.
It will be an old style American gangster movie, with western stars, which will be shot in New Mexico. It will be in English. The only thing Indian will be my sensibility. Its a film with a lot of violence and a tag line, Theres always another way.
Reliance is financing another Chopra blockbuster — Talismaan, but, with a Rs 75-crore budget, this will be in Hindi. Chopra explained the new freedom he would enjoy. I can cast anybody and after I have made the film, I dont have to worry about marketing it. It is wonderful. Its like a marriage made in heaven for me.
Ambani is also supporting Don 2, starring Shah Rukh Khan.
The only character in the drama missing today was Ambani himself but he sent his top executives to serve notice on the global film industry gathered in Cannes that he intends becoming the biggest movie mogul in India and one of the biggest in the world.
He would build hundreds of multiplexes in India and also ensure that home subscribers are able to download movies on demand at home. For a couple of hundred rupees or so, barely the cost of a good cinema ticket in towns, people would be able to see as many movies as they wanted slumped in their sofas at home.
One question remained. How would Ambani ensure his studios would produce good quality films?
The answer was simple: he would have someone vet the choice of script and offer assistance with the making of the film.
The message is that we are putting up a billion dollars of money in the film business which is more than our competitors are putting in together, enthused Khanna.
A billion dollars is a billion dollars — its a huge amount of money, he added with faultless logic. Nobody has come close to investing this kind of money in the business.
Ambani had set his ambitions beyond the borders of India, said Khanna. Films are all about engaging people across geographies and demographics. We are trying to create a new age entity which would take the best from all the media companies put together. Apart from the 69 films already in the bag, another 13 are under active negotiation. This has never been done anywhere in the world.
This project was Ambanis baby — he is an avid filmgoer.
On behalf of Big Boss, Khanna pledged: We will change the way films are marketed, we will change the way they are distributed, we will also try and take the films to newer markets and nurture talent. We will look at getting 10-15 per cent of the total Indian market share. We currently have a hundred multiplexes under construction in places like Panipat and Coimbatore.
As for Ambani, He thinks big in whatever he does, Khanna commented. The idea here is to be a global player.