A multi-picture deal with Lions Gate Entertainment is first evidence of the ambitions of India's Ramoji Studios to become a world scale player.

The multi-year, first-look arrangement with Lions Gate enables Ramoji to offer US distribution to a number of films that shoot at its Hyderabad facilities, or are co-produced with Ramoji. Under a deal agreed late last week, the first film to use this route is set as Sex And The Teenage Mind, a Donald Gold-directed teen comedy now in post production.

Other projects that are up for approval include the Martin Sheen and Renee Estevez action drama Mercy Of The Sea, directed by Jakov Sedlar that is also now in post-production, and End Of The Line, an action flick directed and starring Peter Malota.

Ramoji has been substantially restructured since it made its debut last year at Milan's MIFED market in autumn. It now styles itself as a vertically integrated studio group capable of offering finance, sales and facilities to incoming productions.

'We have been building quietly as a force within Asia. Now it is time to move up to the world stage,' said Sridar Sreekakula, head of worldwide sales and marketing at Ramoji. 'We aim to make about three or four English-language pictures among the 20 a year we can deliver.'

Complementing its substantial facilities, Ramoji has launched a production fund, that it uses to co-invest in third party productions and will soon be used to give it world sales rights.

'Investment and sales involvement will increase the number of quality productions we are handle,' says Sreekakula.

Ramoji Studios, which boasts 51 stages and production equipment with an average age of just two years, is part of one of India's largest media and food-products conglomerates with annual turnover of $4.5bn.