'Ghajini', 'Chandni Chowk...' will change Bollywood mood: Pritish Nandy

Mumbai, Dec 17 (IANS) Shah Rukh Khan's "Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi" has brought some respite to the Hindi film industry, which has been hit by the global meltdown and the terror strikes in Mumbai, says filmmaker Pritish Nandy. And he predicts that "Ghajini" and "Chandni Chowk To China" would further change the mood.

According to him, the financial crisis and the terror strikes have badly hit the film business.

"Advertising is down by 50 percent, so are sponsorships. Even the Twenty-20 (cricket) had to be cancelled. Distributors are hesitant to pick up movies because they are wary of theatrical attendance.

"However, there is a possibility that this could change with the films that are about to hit the theatres. Shah Rukh's 'Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi' has already done reasonably well. It has brought some people back to the halls. Next we have Aamir Khan's 'Ghajini' and Akshay Kumar's 'Chandni Chowk To China' - both are being touted as big hits. If they do well, the entire mood will change," Nandy of Pritish Nandy Communications (PNC) told IANS in an interview.

He said that movies on the 26/11 terror attacks could be made, but not right now. "That would look very insensitive".

Do you have any such plans?

"Certainly not now. We may consider the idea when we are more removed from the immediacy of the pain and anger. Right now, like most Mumbaikars, I am licking my wounds."

Excerpts:

Q: First, the global meltdown and now the terror strike, how is it going to impact the entertainment industry in the long term?

A: We can already see that (impact) happening. Advertising is down by 50 percent, so are sponsorships. Even Twenty-20 had to be cancelled. Satellite channels are not buying movies for quite a while. Even distributors are hesitant to pick up movies because they are wary of theatrical attendance.

However, there is a possibility that this could change with the films that are about to hit the theatres. Shah Rukh's "Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi" has already done reasonably well. It has brought some people back to the halls. Next we have Aamir Khan's "Ghajini" and Akshay Kumar's "Chandni Chowk To China" - both are being touted as big hits. If they do well, the entire mood will change. The terrorist strikes have caused panic and there are SMSes going around warning people not to go to movie theatres. Our last film "Meerabai Not Out" was seriously hurt by this panic.

Q: After the terror strikes do you see a spurt of movies coming on the same?

A: They could, but not immediately. That would look very insensitive.

Q: Do you have any such plans?

A: Certainly not now. We may consider the idea when we are more removed from the immediacy of the pain and anger. Right now, like most Mumbaikars, I am licking my wounds. We have lost friends and associates. We have lost faith in those who run this city.

Q: How did the terror strikes affect you on a personal level?

A: Like everyone else I was angry and deeply pained. The world saw us battling these 10 terrorists for over 60 hours and not being able to save as many innocent people as we should have liked to. Mumbaikars are tough, but this time I saw people fearful and traumatised by the events. No one will forget this for a long time.

Q: Your production house has made successful and critically acclaimed movies - but they were neither mega budget nor did they have a huge star cast. Any particular reason for not investing huge money in one venture?

A: That is not quite correct. We did one of the biggest films of all time "Kaante", which had Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt and Suniel Shetty. It was the first film to be shot entirely in Hollywood. We are currently making a film with Amitabh, after that we will make "R4" with Abhishek and Aishwarya.

We do make big movies but infrequently. Our main strength lies in making movies that are script-driven.

We took Kareena Kapoor to another level after a string of unsuccessful big movies with "Chameli". Think "Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi" - we won 38 of the world's top award nominations for it. We launched the careers of three stars - Chitrangada Singh, Kay Kay Menon and Shiney Ahuja.

Q: Quite a few production houses have cut down their movie budgets due to the economic crisis - has your production house also taken similar measures?

A: Certainly. It would be foolish not to, but not at the cost of hurting our films.

Q: You are making a film with Amitabh Bachchan called "The Actor" and it is said to be a tie-up with a French production house. Is it true that it will go on floors in Paris in January 2009?

A: No, there is no French production house involved. It's just us (PNC) and AB Corp. It will start soon, once the script is finalised. Yes, we will start with the Paris shoot.

Q: What will be the estimated budget for "The Actor".

A: As I said, we don't evaluate films by their budget. That is why we don't want to talk about money. We are a creative company. Our job is to make films that are appreciated as well as work in the marketplace. That's what we are entirely focussed on. We do our best to make movies that we are proud of.

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