UTV eyes Rs.450 crore revenue by March 2011

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By Arpana

New Delhi, Dec 29 (IANS) Production house UTV, which has satiated the appetite of viewers with a mixed bouquet of eight movies, including big budget multi-starrer "Raajneeti" and small but successful outings like "Udaan" and "Peepli Live", is eyeing revenues of Rs.450 crore ($100 million) by March 2011.

"Sorry, we can't get into figures for the investment bit and the specific profits earned out of them. However, our revenues projected for the year 2010-11 would be Rs.450 crore vis-à-vis revenues of Rs.315.4 crore we earned in the year 2009-2010," Siddharth Roy Kapoor, CEO of UTV Motion Pictures told IANS in an e-mail interview when asked about the investment in movies.

Director Ken Ghosh's "Chance Pe Dance" was the first film from UTV to hit screens in 2010. The Shahid Kapoor-Genelia D'souza starrer got a lukewarm response at the box office, but first-time directors brought both critical acclaim as well as commercial success for the production house.

"Harishchandrachi Factory", which was theatre-veteran Paresh Mokashi's directorial debut, got critical acclaim and the much anticipated Sonam Kapoor-Imran Khan starrer "I Hate Luv Storys", directed by another debutant, Punit Malhotra, was appreciated by the young multiplex crowds.

Another first-time director Vikramaditya Motwane's "Udaan", which travelled to prestigious film festivals like Cannes, was a delight for the makers as well as the audiances. Motwane, teamed up with television actor Ronit Roy, Ram Kapoor and newcomer Rajat Barmecha for the coming of age movie of a teenage boy and the audiences and critics applauded his efforts.

Then came the most unexpected hit of the year in the form of "Peepli Live". It was directed by first timer Anusha Rizvi and the satire was a co-production of Aamir Khan Productions and UTV. Made at a budget of approximately Rs.100 million, the non-commercial movie about farmer's suicides was a bumper hit.

UTV collaborated with veteran director Prakash Jha for "Raajneeti", a multi-starrer, big budget political thriller. The summer release scorched the screens by doing good business at the box office.

But UTV's much talked about project "Guzaarish" that had Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai couldn't live up to the expectations of the moviegoers.

When asked about "Guzaarish" and recovery of its cost, Kapoor said: "Agree, 'Guzaarish' didn't bring in the desired results at the box office. However, a film coming from Sanjay Leela Bhansali coupled with a great star cast and music talent, we have managed to derisk ourselves significantly through pre-sales of satellite and music rights and hence the film overall has not been commercially as unsuccessful as most trade pundits would like you to believe".

In an interview to a television channel, Aamir Khan had said that he doesn't like selling his movies at high prices because it becomes difficult for the distributors to break even and earn profits.

Are high costs a deterrent for producers and distributors?

"I agree with his point completely and it is true that for real and sustained growth, all the partners in the value chain need to make money," said Kapoor.

Though trade pundits have declared 2010 as a bad year for the Hindi film industry, Kapoor begs to differ.

"I feel that the year 2010 hasn't been a bad year at all. It's been a year with a great mix of both big and small films throughout with better budgeting by studios and more vigilance on the production costs as compared what we saw in the years 2008 and 2009," said Kapoor.

"At UTV, we have seen a great year with movies like 'Raajneeti', which is the fourth biggest blockbuster of all times so far. 'I Hate Luv Storys' did extremely well for a rom-com genre. 'Udaan' has been received extremely well by critics across and is still travelling to various film festivals and winning prestigious awards. 'Peepli Live', is a case study in itself like how a small movie was made big. 'Guzaarish', another critically acclaimed film by Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

"All in all it's a very positive year for us at UTV, producing movies across varied genres with consistently innovating in marketing practices which are striking a chord across audiences," Kapoor added.

UTV wrapped up 2010 with "Tees Maar Khan". Though the critics didn't like the film, the comedy featuring Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif had a good opening.