Television

Zee TV goes the HBO way, to make original movies

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MUMBAI: Zee Telefilms Ltd is producing feature films in line with the "HBO Originals" concept, to be telecast at a dedicated slot on its Hindi general entertainment channel Zee TV.

Zee TV, which had earlier experimented with telefilms, plans to have 52 original movies in the first year of screening from January 2005. The company has already lined up production of 13 movies at an investment of around Rs 80 million, says Zee TV creative consultant Sudhir Mishra.

A majority of these movies will be made under the commissioned category. For the first 13 movies, Zee has commissioned six directors. Zee will also directly produce a few films while some will be through the acquisition route, says Mishra.

Zee TV is developing Sunday 8 pm as the "Premiere" movie slot. The commercial movies, which are currently being aired on the channel, will move to Zee Cinema. "We are positioning the slot along the `HBO Orginals' line. The Zee Premiere brand will have movies made by noted directors primarily for the television channel," says Zee TV business head Abhijit Saxena.

The directors on board for the 13 finalised projects are Kundan Shah, Saurabh Shukla, Karan Shah, Nagesh Kukoonur, Somnath Sen, Vipul Shah, Parvati, Shivam Nair, Sandeep Verma, Nupur Asthana and Manjul Sinha, among others. "These are not telefilms. They are made in a complete feature film format. We are using noted directors who have good stories to tell. They will be in different genres. They will not be like the commercial blockbuster movies that are launched in theatres," says Saxena. The emphasis will be on good scripts, without getting caught in heavy marketing expenses and expensive stars.

Adds Mishra: "The idea is not to have the fix of making low-budget standardised movies for television. The stress will be on good script-based movies."

Kundan Shah's movie, tentatively titled Three Sisters, is being produced by Zee at a budget of Rs 70-80 lakh. "The budget will vary, depending on the kind of movies being made," says Mishra.

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