Indian music major Saregama is planning to re-enter movie production and has unveiled plans to produce 20 Indian language films over the next three years.
The owner of the largest music catalogue in India, the move is part of Saregama's plan to become an all-round entertainment company which will allow it exploit synergies across its various divisions. The company is also seeking to get involved in international co-productions and joint ventures, and recently struck a deal with Warner Home Video and the BBC to market their film and TV videos.
"We want to grow in the entertainment space. We are very seriously looking at Hindi film production," Saregama managing director Abhik Mitra told Screen Daily.
"Making films is a far safer option than buying music rights because films have more revenue streams such as television," he added. "Pure music companies are a rarity these days
A joint venture in collaboration with producer Mukesh Bhatt starring Farhan Hashmi and Tara Sharma is already under discussion under the direction of Anurag Basu. Saregama has also signed Hindi filmmaker E. Niwas and Ken Ghosh and writer Javed Akhtar for a love story, which will go into production in October 2003.
The company plans to keep costs low and make films within the US$ 1- 2 million range. Its previous credits include Shabana Azmi starring Godmother, Rajiv Menon's Sapnay and Bada Din with Azmi and model Marc Robinson.
Meanwhile, Saregama will distribute about 5,000 films from the Warner catalogue including the Harry Potter franchise. The BBC tie-up will offer a range of content in different genres such as children's entertainment, natural history, documentaries, serials, drama and current affairs.
The company has also acquired Chennai-based Min Bimbangal Productions, a television software company owned by film director K Balachander for US$ 2m. The television division is planning to venture into daily soaps, talk shows, non-fiction films and telefilms
Music still accounts for most of Saregama's business. The company owns the largest music catalogue in the country. The company has sold one million copies of Shaad Ali's Sathiya film track and is now looking at the new Rakesh Roshan sci-fi thriller Koil Mil Gaya