Bollywood is known to be mass-y. However, 2013 saw a clutch of offbeat films that got appreciated, even if they didn’t set the cash registers ringing. Films like The Lunchbox and Ship of Theseus have proven that there is an audience for niche cinema.
And while mainstream actors and film-makers have often claimed they want to do something ‘different’, they now seem to be putting money where the mouth is. The likes of Akshay Kumar and Salman Khan are investing in niche cinema with a second production house. And the latest to join that group is Ajay Devgn.
Ajay is set to launch Shivalaya Entertainment (based in Los Angeles, USA), to focus on independent films focused on the international market. He will produce Leena Yadav’s (she directed Teen Patti in 2010) Parched, about the journey of women in drought-stricken areas of rural India. The actor also owns Ajay Devgn Films (launched in 2000). Ajay says, “In today’s scenario, there are two spectrums — one where films are made on traditional themes, which make business sense; but there is also the establishment of new formats, storylines and talent...”
Similarly, Salman started Salman Khan Being Human Productions (SKBHP) in 2010. It produced the National Award-winning film, Chillar Party (2011). Next, the banner will produce a remake of Mahesh Manjrekar’s Marathi film, Shikshanachya Aaicha Gho (2010). “They (films produced under SKBHP) will be happy films with strong messages,” Salman told us earlier this year. He will also launch Salman Khan Productions next year to focus on mainstream films.
Akshay’s Grazing Goat Productions (launched in 2011) focuses on Hindi and regional-language cinema, the latest being Bhaji In Problem (Punjabi). Akshay says that he “may be doing commercial cinema, but wants my (his) company to make films which will make a difference to society”. Akshay also owns Hari Om Productions.
Even producer Ekta Kapoor runs ALT Entertainment, besides her main production house, Balaji Motion Pictures. She has made films like Love, Sex Aur Dhokha (2010) and Shor In the City (2011) under the banner.