The traditional boundaries of Hollywood vs. Bollywood are disappearing ...

By Sonia Chopra, IndiaFM

image`When

you hear Spider-Man in Bhojpuri, you know the world has changed', says

Preet Bedi, the recently-appointed CEO of Percept Picture Company, that

has forayed into Hollywood film distribution by acquiring the India

distribution rights of Spider-Man 3. The company has released the $ 258

million film in five languages - English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and even

Bhojpuri. A chat with Bedi on how PPC managed this coup and future

plans.

Acquiring distribution rights to Spider-Man 3 is a huge leap…

Yes, and this one is a leap for two reasons: as soon as Spidey gets

into Bhojpuri, apart from Hindi, English, Tamil and Telugu, you know that

the traditional boundaries of Hollywood vs. Bollywood are changing. In

fact they are disappearing, and there is no distinction between the two. And

if there is no distinction, then we are actually getting into a very large

market! And that's why we are very excited. It's like scoring a six on debut,

because we've not made a beginning with a small Hollywood film; we are

beginning with Spidey.

That's true; you have surprised the industry…

We've worked very hard to do that (laughs heartily).

How did the collaboration come about?

PPC believes that this is a business of relationships, not of transaction.

The difference between the two is that in a transaction both sides are trying

to get the best of it. If it's a relationship, both sides agree on fair doing.

Once you get that right, it doesn't take too long to agree on terms and

conditions. Naturally, they saw their business interests, and we saw ours.

They evaluated us versus five others; we got evaluated and they decided in

their wisdom that we'd be their best partners. I think why they picked us

was they noticed the passion and hunger that PPC had to make Spider-

Man 3 a success. That must've been it - otherwise anyone can pay

money.

PPC's last release was Traffic Signal. Were you disappointed at its

dismal business at the Box Office?

Traffic Signal released in February, and I had joined PPC around that

time. As far as we are concerned, we're happy with what business it did.

Madhur Bhandarkar has a particular brand of cinema. It'll never be like a

Shah Rukh-type release -- we're very aware of that. We knew what the film

was all about and where it would do well, so we had planned

accordingly.

But Madhur's Page 3 was a commercial success as well. What did you

think of Traffic Signal?

See, the two subjects were very different. Page 3 was all about

glamour, celebrities and the party circuit. This was totally different. I think

Traffic Signal was a good film. It's not a film I would watch five times, but

I enjoyed it when I saw it the first time.

Is PPC involved with Bhandarkar's Fashion and in what capacity?

We are definitely involved in the film, but would not like to comment

any further at this point.

PPC is also collaborating with Bhandarkar for another film?

Yes, we are definitely doing a couple of other projects with him. The

scripts are ready and we just have to make the announcements.

Its Sahara's first year without Percept

This must be a challenging and exciting year for PPC as this is its first

year without the Sahara liaison.
You mean it's Sahara's first year without us (Laughs). No, jokes apart, it's

been a great relationship and we still continue to do business with them.

But yes, it's an important year for us and there is a huge responsibility, so

don't be surprised if you see my shoulders droop a bit.

The David Dhawan film on cricket had come to PPC first, what

happened?

It didn't work out. Many films come in and many go. But we are

working with Dhawan on two projects. The scripts are still being worked

out.

Most production houses sign up actors on contracts, but you've

chosen to liaise with directors like Anubhav Sinha, Madhur Bhandarkar,

Nagesh Kukunoor and David Dhawan.

True, if I were given 100 units of attention, I'd put 60 in ensuring that

we have a certain type of image because that will differentiate us. We're not

the biggest and we're aware of that. We swear by good cinema. We believe

that is our differentiator and we also believe that will have to be anyone's

differentiator in the long run. If we are to do that, we must begin with

directors and scripts. And our main efforts go in those two areas.

Therefore, we'd any day prefer to have a good set of directors on our side.

This may be a unique positioning, but we are keen to maintain that.

What is happening with the six-film deal with Anubhav Sinha and his

film Kabootar?

The deal is very much in the pipeline. Kabootar is completely ready

and will be released soon.

And what about Johnny Walker? Wasn't that script done by PPC's in

-house team?

Yes, that was a script that came out of PPC. For the moment, I'd not

comment on the film, as chances are that the film might not even

happen.

Which are the other PPC films that will see a release this year?

There are several -- MP3, Kabootar, Pachas Lakh, Hanuman Returns

should open during Diwali. Dhol a big one, then there's Aashayein and

hopefully Tasveer as well. We will release The Forest as well, an

international project directed by Ashwin Kumar who made The Little

Terrorist a few years back.

There were a few other international productions PPC was involved in

like The Truck of Dreams. When is it likely to see a release in India?

We're unsure of the release date in India. We are progressing towards

a stage when we want to be absolutely sure of what we are doing, before

setting a date.

PPC was also going to roll the Script Shop, a literal shop for scripts?

Yes, but we have yet to make a formal announcement. In an informal

sense, it's already operational but we are very keen to formally announce it

soon.

You've dubbed Spider-Man 3 in regional languages; any plans to get

into regional films?

We don't mind. But there are no plans as of now.

Will PPC explore the Home Video market in the future?

Perhaps, but again, there are no specific plans yet.