Star Television has filed an arbitration petition in the Bombay High Court against production house Kaleidoscope Entertainment, alleging the firm took an advance of Rs 6 crore to produce a television programme based on the epic but hasn’t produced a single episode so far.
A senior executive from Kaleidoscope, who did not wish to be identified, claimed the show was supposed to be telecast in one-hour parts, and that at least seven parts had already been shot using film.
“Nearly a year’s work has already gone into the project,” this executive said. “In these tough economic times, most TV channels are facing cost pressures. This legal notice is Star’s way of pulling out of the show. May be it doesn’t want to go ahead with the Mahabharat project after all.”
Star TV, a unit of News Corp, had commissioned the show in February.
Kaleidoscope is a film and television production company run by Bobby Bedi, who made films such as Bandit Queen, Fire and Maqbool.
The court gave Kaleidoscope until January 29 to respond to the Star claim.
Uday Shankar, CEO of Star India, declined to comment citing legal dispute.
The Kaleidoscope executive’s assertion that this may be an attempt to avoid funding the show because of the economic downturn, is finding resonance in the television world.
Dheeraj Kumar, chairman and managing director of the production house Creative Eye, said many channels are seeking to delay shooting schedules and looking to reduce costs. “We were supposed to begin the shooting of a mythological serial for a prominent channel in December, but have postponed the same until March,” Kumar said.
“Channels are waiting and watching and are unwilling to commit to new projects,” said BAG Films & Media managing director Anurradha Prasad.