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May 11, 2002 | 1240 IST
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Sony cans Bollywood production plan

Rumi Dutta

Sony, one of the biggest financiers of films in Hollywood, has decided to shelve its proposed foray into film production in Bollywood. The company has also decided against setting up the proposed Rs 1-billion film fund.

The decision assumes significance as it comes at a time when several of India's biggest corporate houses are jumping into the movie-making business. Kunal Dasgupta, CEO of Sony Entertainment Television (SET), said: "We have reviewed our plans for film production. We have identified that our strength lies in film marketing and not film production. Hence, we have decided against entering the business."

The company, however, is still open to financing films of smaller independent producers for a fee.

The media giant was also planning to set up a Rs 1 billion film fund wherein funds were to be pooled in from other segments of the industry or investors and was to be managed by SET India.

The idea behind the pool fund was to make easy financing available to film makers for a fee.

"Now that we are not looking at film production, it makes little sense to set up a film fund," Dasgupta added.

The company has, however, produced 'Pyar Kiya Nahi Jata' slated for release this year. It also holds the international distribution rights for Lagaan.

SET India had initially envisaged film production as a backward integration process as it already has a movie and music channel in place.

With its own film production business, Sony would have automatically got the music rights and satellite rights. Also, the films would have been ready-made content for its channels.

Some of the leading corporate houses who have been reported to be looking at film production and distribution business include the Tatas, the Ambanis, the Hindujas, the RPG group, the Videocon group and Kishore Biyani's Pantaloon.

Meanwhile, the Subhash Chandra-controlled Zee Telefilms, after the initial success of Gadar, is looking at producing 12-14 films every year. Media companies including B4U Television Network, Balaji Telefilms and SABe TV are also eyeing this high-risk business, which also promises high returns.

SET India's parent company, Sony Pictures Entertainment's global operations include motion picture production and distribution, television programming and syndication, home video acquisition and distribution, operation of studio facilities, development of new entertainment technologies and distribution of filmed entertainment in around 67 countries worldwide.

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