Amitabh U-turn with UTV

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  • Published 11.06.05

Amsterdam, June 11: Learning from mistakes is the new mantra for Amitabh Bachchan’s renamed and revamped production company AB Corp.

Having quashed UTV’s proposal for joint ventures 10 years ago, when ABCL had just been floated, the Bachchan-headed company has done a turnaround and signed an MoU with the Ronnie Screwvala-headed film production-distribution company.

“The film budgets are going up and Indian cinema is going global,” said Bachchan at the formal announcement on Thursday night at an IIFA get-together.

“We thought this was the best time to tie up with a company like UTV, who already have a structured distribution network throughout India and also abroad. Apart from big companies like Yash Raj films, it’s getting impossible for a single company to finance a film by itself. Co-production is the future of Bollywood.”

For Screwvala, too, it was a moment to rejoice.

Having helmed this year’s biggest hit, Kya Kool Hain Hum, and with both of his new productions, D and Parineeta, opening big, UTV, he said, is looking at more co-productions in the future.

“We are planning a lot of projects with AB Corp and the first co-production is almost set to be finalised,” he said.

This tie-up could have happened a decade back when the two production companies almost came together.

“When we had ventured into film production in 1995, I could realise that both ours and UTV’s visions of taking Indian cinema to the world were quite similar,” said Bachchan.

“I had visited many American states then and I learnt that the entertainment corporates in the US were spreading their wings in uncharted territories. India was definitely one of the countries they were looking at to get corporatised.”

But ABCL, feels Bachchan, couldn’t capitalise on the scenario then while UTV did. “We should have held hands at that time,” he said.

“But there was some arrogance on our part at that time and we wanted to be on our own. Now that we at AB Corp have decided to start afresh, we are not making the same mistake and are venturing together with UTV. Hope our creative spirits can come together commercially.”

The MoU includes not just film co-production but also television. “Yes, we can very much do something on television together,” said Screwvala.

“But we are starting off with a film project. First, there has to be a unanimous decision on the director, then the script and finally the cast.”

UTV is also distributing the new AB Corp production, Mahesh Manjrekar’s Viruddh, across the world.

Viruddh, launched at the last edition of IIFA, is a bilingual film aimed at the global market revolving around an old couple, played by Bachchan and Sharmila Tagore, and their son, played by John Abraham.

At the Friday meet, UTV also announced two more productions ? a David Dhawan comedy starring Sunjay Dutt and a Priyadarshan film with Shahid Kapur and Kareena Kapoor.