'Corporate deals will not rob us of creative independence'

Mumbai, March 13 (IANS) The Bhatt brothers - Mahesh and Mukesh - who always pride themselves on the independent status of their production banner, Vishesh Films, have finally succumbed to the market dynamics.

Their signing of a Rs.1-billion four-movie deal with music major Sony BMG last week is a step in that direction.

According to an industry insider, since Sony BMG will fund the movies, it will definitely have a major say in their making, divesting the Bhatts of their independent line of thinking that gives their movies a distinct identity.

Which, in the other words, means that the Vishesh Films brand of movies will undergo a telling metamorphosis - at least in the movies to be funded by Sony.

But Mukesh Bhatt, the producer, differed and said the banner's identity would remain intact.

"We will be in control of the creative content and be as innovative. Sony BMG is not going to tell us what types of films to make. That is our prerogative," Mukesh told IANS.

But he agreed that the deal would help expand the reach of the banner.

In fact, Mahesh Bhatt, the creative head of Vishesh Films, has already admitted that their partnership with Sony BMG will bring stability to the banner.

"Of late, we have been finding it difficult to keep our banner afloat in the changing scenario in Bollywood. We need a strong financial partner who has faith in our abilities," he had said soon after Vishesh Films signed an exclusive music contract with Sony BMG.

In the last 20 years since the banner was floated with its maiden venture "Kabzaa", the budget of none of the 30 films it has made so far has exceeded Rs.50 million.

Now, for the first time, its Rs.1-billion deal with Sony BMG will afford it to make four movies on a budget of Rs.250 million apiece.

Now that the Bhatts have another Rs.700 million deal with Percept Picture Company, their banner at least will have a solid financial foundation it was lacking until recently.

"I provide only creative inputs to our banner. It is my brother, Mukesh, who has to worry about raising finance for the movies we make. But we take pride in the fact that, even with a modest budget, none of our production lacks the creative integrity," Mahesh declared.

Mukesh, however, has little time to talk at length about the Sony BMG deal as he is now in a pre-release tenterhook of his latest production "Jannat" starring Vishesh Films' regular, Emran Hashmi.

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