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Cash and Colour: the business behind re-releasing old classics

First, it was Mughal-e- Azam, then Naya Daur and now it’s Dev Anand’s Hum Dono. Diganta Guha understands the business aspect of re-releasing an old classic.

entertainment Updated: Jun 20, 2007 11:38 IST

First, it was KAsif ’s Mughal-e- Azam (1960), then B R Chopra’s Naya Daur (1957) and now it’s Dev Anand’s Hum Dono (1961). The trend of old classics being re-released in coloured format continues and there are more films in the pipeline.

Filmmakers harp on the emotional factor associated with the endeavour. However, the business aspect of the story seems to be rather motivational as well. Obviously filmmakers keep numbers in mind.

“We’re are planning a huge release, because there is a world wide market. I plan to re-release all my father’s films,” says Ravi Chopra , before the re-release of Naya Daur on June 22.

Profit on my mind
In Hollywood, the colourisation of old classics is aimed at DVD sales.

“For Hollywood it’s the DVD market that derives the benefit but in Bollywood, major revenues come through theatrical releases as in the case of Mughal-e-Azam. The coloured version grossed Rs 10 crores for a film that made a Rs 3 crore profit when it was released in 1960” says Jagan Mohan , head of the colourisation and restoration division of Goldstone Technologies. The company is re-releasing Dev Anand’s Hum Dono later this year.

<b1>Growing rapidly
The process of re-releasing an old classic in a new format isn’t simple. First, it is restored and colourised, then transformed into Dolby digital surround sound and finally marketed before the release of the film.

According to industry estimates, the restoration market could touch the Rs 100 croremark in three years while the colourisation market could hit the Rs 150 crore mark. Along with colourisation, quality is also an important issue. A film can even be turned into cinemascope. In fact, Goldstone has already bagged the rights of several several south Indian classics.

“We’re also talking with some big production houses in Bollywood to re-release old classics,” says Mohan.

Attracting Gen Y
Hum Dono will be released first only at vis-a-vis Naya Daur. There is still some uncertainty Vivek Rao, MD, West Wing Studio, which reworked the film points out, “We have to first gauge the market. Right now, we really can’t go all out on a limb.”

Flipside: trying to lure the new generation to watch classics. If Hum Dono is looking at a gross of Rs 15 crore, distributors of Naya Daur are looking at Rs 5 crore, which is also a reasonably huge figure.

Shades of the past
Cost of coloouristaion: Rs 2 to Rs 6.5 crore: varies depending on detailing. So, a period or a mythological film would cost more...a social drama would be cheaper.
Time Taken: Six months to two-and-a-half years.
Changing colours:Maughal-e-azam, Naya Daur, Hum Dono, Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam, Gumrah, Kanoon, Dhool ka Phool, Pyaasa, Chaudhavin ka Chaand, Kaagaz ke Phool.

First Published: Jun 19, 2007 18:10 IST