Bollywood dresses up for English August

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  • Published 11.06.05

Amsterdam, June 11: It may take some time for Bollywood to say “Let’s go Dutch”, but the industry seems ready for an English August. The long-in-the-waiting treaty between India and the UK for film co-production may be just a couple of months away from being sealed.

While the Shahrukh Khans and Hrithik Roshans were playing cricket at the Olympic Stadium ? to raise money for industry artistes ? and the Kareena Kapoors and Aishwarya Rais were busy rehearsing at the Amsterdam Arena, there was some heavy duty trade plans going on at the Ficci-IIFA Global Business Forum inaugurated at the Expo XXI yesterday afternoon.

Post the special seminar on Indian cinema at the forum, Clare Wise, director, international department, UK Film Council, told The Telegraph: “We have been trying to get a formal treaty signed between the two countries (India and the UK) with respect to co-production. I am off to Delhi next week and this should happen in maximum two months’ time.”

Clare came with her delegation at the Ficci Frames seminar in India in March 2004 to explore opportunities of co-productions between Indian and British filmmakers. The UK Film Council she represents manages a film-funding corpus worth ?10 million.

“Everyone knows that we are a very expensive place to shoot films,” said Clare. “Once the treaty is finalised, the co-productions become economically more viable and Indian films can truly cross over with distribution commitment from our side. Also the best talents of the two countries can come together.”

Of the 451 films released in the UK in 2004, 55 were Indian which went on to rake in as much as $16 million, of which Yash Chopra’s love legend Veer-Zaara grossed $4 million. Chopra, who is also the director and chairman of the Ficci Entertainment Committee, welcomed the UK Film Council’s co-production plans.

Karan Johar in Amsterdam

“Co-productions can always work commercially but the creative department should be headed by one party only. Just because one is co-producing doesn’t mean that you should interfere in the creativity involved.”

Karan Johar, whose films like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and Kal Ho Naa Ho have been major success stories in the UK, welcomed the co-production treaty.

“It will be great if and when it happens. The exchange of talents of the two countries can be truly explored under one banner and the distribution and marketing of the films in both the countries would be more systemised.”

But what is taking so long for the two governments to give the green signal? “We are working with two large bureaucracies. Then there are tax breaks we are looking at for film distribution. We are at a very advanced stage of talking and everything should be finalised soon,” Clare said.

Apart from the treaty, Clare and the international wing of the UK Film Council are already in talks with filmmaker Ashvin Kumar ? nominated for an Oscar for his short film Little Terrorist ? to fund his next project, which is a full-length feature film.

“We would ideally like it to be a co-production and perhaps the first film post our treaty,” Clare signed off.