Production house UTV Motion Pictures has decided to move away from stars and masala movies. Its new arm Spotboy will focus on concept-based cinema and has already roped in filmmakers like Shyam Benegal and Anurag Kashyap.
UTV has come to be associated with hits like Rang De Basanti and Life In a Metro. While Spotboy will now take over some existing projects, it will largely develop its own fresh content.
To start with, it has signed a deal with seasoned director Benegal, the talented Kashyap and newcomer Raj Kumar Gupta. Releasing next year, their concept-based films will focus on realistic, engaging cinema and promise to be a treat for the intellect.
"Shyam Benegal and Anurag Kashyap are masters in their field and here they bring new narratives or give a twist to old narratives with their distinctive signature styles," said Vikas Bahl, creative and business head of Spotboy.
"And Raj Kumar Gupta is someone to look out for. We have signed each one for one film. They are fairly big films."
Benegal, who ushered in new wave cinema in India, is making Mahadev for the banner and has Shreyas Talpade and Amrita Rao as his main leads. It also stars his favourite actress Rajeshwari Sachdev, who is cast opposite Bhojpuri superstar Ravi Kishan.
"This is about the global Indian village where you find everything from Internet to TV to phones. But the literacy rate is still very low. So such places still require a person to write letters. My film is about a man who wanted to be a writer but becomes a letter writer outside the post office in a village called Sajjanpur," Benegal, who has started shooting the film, told IANS.
"As he writes and reads their letters, he has some kind of power and influence over the villagers. He knows many things about them and sometimes manipulates the information. It is a comic satire and in a way it is also a romantic comedy. It is an interesting look at the Indian village," added Benegal, who has returned to comedy after nearly 25 years.
Kashyap, who is not ready to compromise with his creative freedom, is making Dev D, a modern interpretation of Devdas with Abhay Deol in the lead.
"In those days there were no means of communication but today everybody is just a call away. So my film will show how the modern Devdas will be in the age of Internet, SMS and phones," he said.
"In my film, Chandramukhi lives a dual life - on the one hand she is a hi-fi escort and on the other she is a normal person. My film also focuses on today's kids who live a self-destructive and reckless life," he said.
Asked about creative freedom at UTV, Kashyap said: "UTV's The Namesake and Khosla Ka Ghosla were not star driven. They are films of a new kind. After a long discussion with Vikas Bahl, I realised that he wants to do something different."
Apart from Abhay, Kashyap will cast only newcomers in the romance saga that is to go on the floors soon.
And Gupta, who worked with Kashyap as associate director in Black Friday and No Smoking, is also making a film with Spotboy. Gupta's directorial debut is a thriller titled Amir. Television heartthrob Rajeev Khandelwal plays the title role in the film about educated people becoming the new face of terrorism.
"Spotboy is looking for bound scripts. I had a script and I narrated it to them and Vikas liked it. Vikas is working with a bunch of youngsters who have a vision and they want to take Indian cinema to a different level," said Gupta.
"The film is about a professional who returns to Mumbai thinking that his family will greet him at the airport. But things don't happen the way he expected," he revealed.
Gupta agrees that there is pressure on him to prove his mettle with his first film. "Pressure is surely there but there is no bigger joy than making your own film."
While the budget of Benegal and Kashyap's film is approximately Rs80 million to Rs100 million, Gupta's film is a middle-budget movie and would cost around Rs40 to Rs50 million.