Why Kross Pictures' South Korea CEO Thomas Kim is happy with India

MUMBAI: He is a South Korean who is plugging away with his ambition to leave his imprint on both, Bollywood and Indian television. And that’s one of the reasons why Kross Pictures CEO Thomas Kim set up an office in Mumbai in 2016, adding to his Los Angeles and Seoul outposts.

From the company’s stable emerged the Amitabh Bachchan-Nawazuddin Siddique-starrer the critically acclaimed Te3n last year, which was adapted from the South Korean film Montage.

Kim is excited about his next project for the Indian market: a web series for Amazon Prime called Suspect X, which is based on the Japanese author Keigo Higashino’s The Devotion of Suspect X. Kim acquired the film production rights from the author in 2011 and even signed a co-production agreement with Balaji Motion Pictures in 2013.

However, that has been put on the backburner. “Earlier we thought to do this as a feature film but then this opportunity came so we are now actively developing the extended version of this script,” says Kim.

Right now his goal is to get the third novel of the Detective Galieo series on the production floor. “We plan to start shooting Suspect X later this year. It is going to be shot like a long movie.”

Why did he choose to go with an SVOD service like Amazon Prime and not a TV channel for Suspect X for his second Indian foray?

Kim explains: “Indian channels are more conservative. They are less active in trying out different things and budgets are lower than we are used to at international levels. The kind of content we are bringing requires certain level of budgets. We were working with a big Hollywood production company and we were trying to create the Indian version of the show and we presented this idea to all the major GECs -- Sony, Zee and Star. They all liked it but balked at writing the cheque that it required. On the television side, I think it will take a longer time, but on films and OTT side it's possible.”

However, that’s not all. Kim is in production pitches with both general entertainment channels and other OTT services such as Hotstar and ViuClip for other shows. Altogether, he has 15 projects lined up for the Indian market, a mix of TV shows for TV channels and OTT services and films for theatrical release.

Says he: “We are planning to bring Korean stories so that these could be 'Indianised' by Indians for the Indian viewers. We will be teaming up with a number of talented people and companies. Directors such as Sujoy Ghosh, an actor like Amitabh Bachchan, companies like Phantom and Amazon to name a few.”

Amongst the projects which he expects to announce soon figure two South Korean film adaptations for India with big stars -- Miracle in Cell No 7 and Miss Granny. Additionally, he’s working on taking Indian content overseas as well. Recently, Kross Pictures flashed the top dollar and bought the rights to Queen and Kahani, and is planning to have them remade in Korea as well soon. And, he is also looking out for Indian TV shows that can travel.

What is driving this South Korean to lay such a heavy emphasis on Korean and Indian content and work as a bridge between the two nations’ film and TV creative industries?

“The Indian market is huge; it comprises half or our global portfolio, and hence it is a very important market for us. In the long term, I think it can be bigger than Korea,” he elaborates. “Both countries being Asian… can come up with stories that can resonate with viewers and film-goers. The reason Indian-South Korean exchange has not been too big is that so far the two countries haven’t been active in exchanging cultures. Starting now, I think it will grow in future and soon we will see more and more Korean films remade in Bollywood and vice versa.”

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