The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Kisna kiss & more cut
- Abridged version in English at Cannes

Cannes, May 14: Subhash Ghai said at Cannes today that he has done what no other filmmaker in Bollywood has done ' cut the length of a Hindi movie by half and turned it into an English film.

Although he is disappointed with the reaction to Kisna, a love story between an Indian man (Vivek Oberoi) and an English girl (Antonia Bernath) set against the backdrop of the end of the Raj, Ghai is not a man to give up.

Today, in Cannes, he had one screening of Beyond Love, the English language version of Kisna, which was shot at the same time as the Hindi one ' only with English dialogue.

As in the Hindi version, the kiss between the screen lovers has been cut.

Ghai said he has made an attempt to reach out to a non-Indian audience.

Beyond Love has been edited by Michael Parker, who edited East is East,” he said, referring to the hit film, which starred Om Puri and tells the story of a mixed-race family in Salford near Manchester.

He said Kisna’s original length has been slashed from two hours, 55 minutes to one hour, 20 minutes.

“We have lost sub-plots, side corners and three of the six songs,” he revealed.

“At least, the audience won’t say the film was good but too long.”

He believed others in Bollywood would also make shorter films, even in Hindi.

“My next project, Chinatown, which is a thriller, will be 110 minutes,” he revealed.

Ghai said shorter films are a step in the right direction. “More and more countries are coming to Cannes, there are more and more Indians at Cannes but India, as a film producing country, is not in the front rank.”

He gave the example of Chinese and Korean films which were making their presence felt. “We must also make films with an Indian sensibility but for a world market. This is the lesson I have drawn from Cannes,” said Ghai.

It is not as though Bollywood is not getting attention. The American film magazine, Variety, which publishes a daily edition during the Cannes fortnight, has just published a comprehensive and well thought-out 16-page special report on Bollywood.

To accompany the article, there were plenty of photographs of the most glamorous Bollywood stars, from Shahrukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan to Aishwarya Rai (she again put in an appearance this year).

It said five directors worth watching were Kunal Kohli, Ken Ghosh, Nikhil Advani, Farhan Akhtar and Vishal Bhardwaj.

The report also mentioned five practitioners “who have successfully crossed over to the west” ' Mira Nair, Shekhar Kapur, A.R. Rahman, Aishwarya herself and Kabir Bedi.

Americans, always instructed to “follow the money”, appeared to have woken up to the financial power of the Indian film industry.

“With Bollywood film festivals ranging from Budapest to Los Angeles, it’s clear the global distribution of Hindi films has grown beyond the scattered Indian diaspora,” noted Greg Heffernan in the lead article.

“That emerging popularity will translate into big dollars for Eros International, Yash Raj Films and UTV, three of the top Bollywood distributors in the world,” he said.

He quoted Avtar Panesar, head of operations in London for Yash Raj: “Right now, like most Bollywood distributors, the UK represents probably 30 per cent of our total market and the US another 30 per cent, and it’s growing.”

Eros Entertainment (which has a stall at the Cannes market) ' the films it is pushing include Paheli (an Amol Pakekar movie starring Shahrukh and Rani Mukherjee), and Matrubhoomi, made by Boney Kapoor ' has annual worldwide sales of $100 million.

“A lot of producers try and distribute on their own and find it’s not easy,” Kishore Lulla, CEO of Eros, told Variety. “Eros now has plans to produce its own films.”

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