Nimbus puts film production plans in overdrive

Motion pictures seem to be the only new Nimbus venture that has taken off with a measure of success in the last couple of years.

While plans to launch TV channels and portals have been stuck for various reasons, movies may well be the next ace up the company's sleeve as it unleashes six Hindi, regional and international film productions in the next two years.

The company reportedly sunk in approximately Rs 79 million in the motion picture business as in initial investment.

The Sanjay Dutt starrer Sarhad Paar, announced in late 1999, is finally taking shape. To be launched on 20 February, the film is to be directed by Raman Kumar and is co-scripted by Akash Khurana, Nimbus chief operating officer, movies and music.

According to Khurana, Nimbus Motion Pictures will encompass multi-genre, multi-budget and multi-language movies. As with its television content, which Nimbus produces in eight Indian languages, the movie division too has adopted a portfolio approach with films being made in six different languages.

The company has firmed up plans for six Hindi and regional language films to be released within two years. Also on the cards is an international production, an English film that will boast a foreign crew and cast. To be launched by September 2002, it will be an erotic thriller and is to be shot entirely in Goa. Khurana says Nimbus is tying up with a major production house in the US for this venture, which is slated as an independent film and will not be shot in studio format.

The motion picture division that was activated in early 2000 with the launch of a Marathi film, Ek Hoti Waadi, is looking towards an annual turnover of Rs 200 million. Nimbus, says Khurana, is also planning to enter the telefilm arena, but is waiting for "the economic climate to improve, and projects get more affordable for channels."

Even as Sarhad Paar takes shape, a Telugu film to be directed by Suresh Krishnan will be kicked off by July 2002. Also in the pipeline are a Bengali and an Oriya film, which will be launched later this year.

Ek Hoti Waadi, the small budget Marathi film that marked Nimbus' entry into film production, was released in Pune on 8 February and will be released later this month in suburban Mumbai. The film is slated for release in the state interiors from April onwards. The film, which Khurana claims has received a good response in Pune, bagged six awards (picture, actor, actress, story, music and lyrics) at the recently held Alpha Gaurav Puraskar in Mumbai.

In late 1999 when the company declared its intention to go public, it had issued a propectus in which Nimbus chairman Harish Thawani said that the company had taken a policy decision that not more than five per cent of the company's investible funds at any time will have an exposure in the motion picture content industry.

The company had also planned on launching a community portal, a movie related vortal, entering the FM radio fray and launching two TV channels, one of them to be christened showbiz TV, apart from starting a motion picture division. The others are yet to take off, however. 

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