Film circles are abuzz with stories as Madhur Bhandarkar's Jail gets set for an early November release. One such story is that Percept Picture Company (PPC), had to pay the United Producers and Distributors Forum (UPDF) a fine of Rs 50,000 to ensure a November 6 release for the film.
Following the two-month long multiplex strike, the UPDF has been entrusted with the responsibility of scheduling all releases till November-end, in an attempt to avert clashes with big budget movies.
With Raj Kumar Santoshi's Ajab Prem Ki Gajab Kahani already scheduled for November 6, the Forum tried dissuading Percept from opting for the same date to release Jail.
But Shailendra Singh, Joint Managing Director, PPC, was apparently adamant on the date and even willing to pay a penalty. When quizzed, Singh denies there was any acrimony saying, “We did not pay any fine. Jail’s release date was agreed upon mutually, after meeting with concerned officials.”
He also dismisses apprehensions that the films could cut into each other’s profits, pointing out that two or more films have come together on Diwali, Eid and during summer vacations over the last several years.
“The potential market with more than 1,000 cinemas and six-eight shows per day, is enough to take care of multiple releases,” he reasons.
'I want an U/A certificate for Jail'
Singh's primary concern is the ‘A’ certificate that Jail has been handed by the censors. He argues that while Raat Gayi Baat Gayi, Percept’s next release that revolves around a one-night-stand, is an adult theme, Jail, about a common man’s brush with the law, is a must-see for youngsters. That’s why he’s pushing director Bhandarkar to get an amended ‘U/A’ certificate even if it means a few deletions.
A recent report in the press insisted that PPC had terminated its three-film deal with Neil Nitin Mukesh post Aa Dekhen Zaara. After New York was declared a hit, the company wanted to renew it. But now Mukesh apparently wants to renegotiate his price.
“The report was completely untrue,” asserts Singh, “We are looking forward to working with Neil again.”
‘Akshay should come good for me now’
Singh however doesn’t deny running down Akshay Kumar in print. His issue with the actor is that though he didn’t think Kumar deserved Rs 9 crore for Jumbo despite the super-hit Singh Is Kinng, he stood by the deal they’d negotiated for both the kiddy flick and 8 x 10 Tasveer. Both films tanked. “Now it’s time for Akshay to come good for me. You can’t have a win-win situation every time. 8 x 10’s failure followed by the multiplex strike and global slowdown, was a big blow for us.”
Waving off rumours of a financial crunch, Singh says PPC has nine films lined up and they will be spaced out over the next 12 months. Jail will be followed by Raat Gayi Baat Gayi and Raftaar, with the Priyadarshan-directed kiddy flick, Bum Bum Bole, being promoted as a Christmas attraction.
‘Pirates is not Pirates Of The Caribbean’
Priyarashan’s Tamil film, Kanchivaram, bagged the National Award for Best Film for which Singh was at the Rashtrapati Bhavan
yesterday. “It was a big high,” he smiles. He’s currently working with Priyadarshan on a film on AIDS for which he’s hoping to rope in Aamir Khan and Tabu.
There’s also a crime thriller on pirates who are robbing the movie, TV, music and video games business to the tune of Rs 16,000 crore every year.
“We worked on a concept
revolving around piracy in the music business with Priyadarshan for three-and-a-half years but then had to shelve the project because of the the cost-factor,” he informs.
A dialogue was then set up with Bhandarkar but after six months they reached a dead-end. But the talk with Bhandarkar who once worked for a video library, exposed the nexus that is eroding the entertainment industry.
“After seeing Baabarr, I discussed the concept with Ashu Trika who was very excited. We signed him on two months ago. It’s not Pirates Of The Carribean but Pirates will be a cool flick that aims to create awareness amongst consumers not to patronise pirated DVDs being sold openly on the streets like kanda-batata,” he points out.
‘Raftaar will launch three Miss Bollywoods from IPL’
In an innovative marketing exercise, Singh hopes to rope in certain production houses as partners on the project, and also enlist the support of top stars and technicians since “everyone is equally affected by the open theft.”
Before Pirates though he will have to roll out Raftaar. There’s a promotional video still to be shot along with a few songs, and apparently lead actor Emraan Hashmi is insistent on big names and a foreign locale. “Emraan is the actor of the film, I’m the producer and I have a lot at stake. If we can get a destination partner, then we’ll go abroad, otherwise even Goa can look picturesque. We have three Miss Bollywoods from IPL in the video. They should lend plenty of oomph,” he points out.
What’s happened to Aashayein? Will it ever see the light of the day? “The film is complete, we’re looking to a January-February release. Nagesh (Kukunoor) and John (Abraham) are very happy with the way it has turned out and the promotions will begin soon,” Singh promises.
‘Vijender Singh will definitely host The Contenders’
And what’s the scene with boxer Vijender Singh who was to host the Indianised version of the reality boxing show, The Contenders? Buzz is that the Olympic bronze medallist boxer’s multi-crore deal with Percept has run into trouble after Infinity Optimal Solution that manages his commercial contracts, moved High Court and obtained a stay.
“We were aware of Vijender’s contract with IOS. We are not competing with them for 15 per cent commission and endorsement deals. We want to use Vijender to promote action sports in India and The Contenders is definitely on. Once the format is locked, we will be talking with Salman Khan and Hrithik Roshan to partner Vijender on the show.”