India-US production consultancy Nuclear Mango is looking to bridge the gap between the Bollywood and Hollywood industries.
After the Oscars gave Slumdog Millionaire the perfect Hollywood ending, these would appear to be auspicious times for anything related to India.
“Bollywood’s going through its Golden Age now. The two industries can really complement each other.”
William Keenan, Nuclear Mango
The feeling is not lost on Govind Menon and William Keenan of Nuclear Mango, the ambitious new Bollywood-Hollywood production consultancy in Los Angeles, New York and Mumbai that recently launched its own production hub in India.
Bollywood director Menon (Khwahish) met Keenan, an executive and former actor, and they paired on the $5m independent project Hisss, which Jennifer Lynch shot in India. Menon’s Split Image Productions and Indian company Venus Records And Tapes financed the revenge tale starring Bollywood siren Mallika Sherawat.
With Keenan on board as co-producer and Nuclear Mango overseeing post-production and talking to buyers, the partners say they are close to signing US domestic and sales agency deals, while Venus is in discussions with Indian distributors. Like Danny Boyle’s film, Hisss is a dual-language affair comprising 45% Hindi and 55% English.
“After Hisss, I got a lot of calls from Americans saying they wanted to work with more Indians and Govind was getting similar calls from Indian producers who wanted to work with Americans,” Keenan says. “It’s all as a result of Slumdog Millionaire. Everyone’s looking at Hisss to take up the mantle. It’s a very different film and already has about 16,000, mostly Indian, websites talking about it.”
With this aim of bridging the East-West divide and financed by Indian entities, Nuclear Mango has lined up a creative consultancy and production roster that already includes Eros, Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, Digital Domain founder Scott Ross, and leading Indian company Dharma Productions, with which they are discussing a remake of Bollywood gangster film Agneepath.
“It’s time this connect happened,” Menon says. “The two countries didn’t have enough collaboration because India was aligned with the Soviet Union and there were conflicts of interest. Now it’s a new world and things have opened up and it’s become easier to work together. Americans have always been slow to find out about other countries, unlike the English. The future of American independent cinema is in Asia.”
“Bollywood’s going through its Golden Age now,” Keenan says. “The two industries can really complement each other.” He refers to the confluence of Hollywood organisation and Bollywood creativity and energy, adding: “It’s said that by 2015, 70%-75% of all entertainment and media revenue will come from Asia. The studios are waking up to that now with their Indian divisions and involvement in local productions. The future of Indian cinema is everywhere.”
With Eros, Nuclear Mango is preparing a slate of films based on characters from Indian mythology, which Menon describes as “like an Indian X-Men”, and is in pre-production on the $4m-$7m rom-com The Wedding List to be directed by Randall Klesier, which they claim will be the first Bollywood film shot entirely in Los Angeles. Eros is financing and will handle worldwide sales on these projects.