Ashok Amritraj makes TV show of docus on social issues

25 Jan,2013

By Sangeetha Kandavel


Hollywood producer Ashok Amritraj made his only Indian movie to date – South Indian director Shankar’s Jeans – more than a decade-and-a-half ago. The film scorched the box-office, but the “time and effort” and the “chaos” of making a movie in India dissuaded him from launching other ventures here. Until now, that is.


Ashok Amritraj – brother of former Indian Davis Cup captain Vijay and a tennis ace himself – plans to produce a television show that will highlight social issues through documentaries shot by teams contesting for the grand prize – the chance to showcase their work at the Cannes Film Festival. The show, called Chance of a Lifetime and supported by the United Nations, will be the first from Mr Amritraj’s Hyde Park Image Nation India and is expected to go live this July. It will be hosted by Mr Amritraj himself.


“For the first time, the contestants would also get access to footages of the UN, which have never been shared before,” said Mr Amritraj, 56, chairman and CEO of Hyde Park Entertainment. “The winning team’s work will also be shown at the UN.” Mr Amritraj made Jeans in 1998 after a successful stint in Hollywood, where he produced films like Bringing Down the House, Premonition, Shopgirl, Moonlight Mile, Double Impact and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.


In total, his films have grossed more than $2 billion (about .’10,700 crore) worldwide. He had said that though he enjoyed the movie-making experience in India, he couldn’t allocate more time here as his business is global. “That would mean taking 18 months out my life to come and set up a movie.”


He said filmmakers from the Middle East, India and Singapore are likely to take part in Chance of a Lifetime. “Three India channels are in the race to telecast this show and we will finalise them in a month’s time,” said Mr Amritraj, who has worked with Hollywood stars like Bruce Willis, Sandra Bullock, Sylvester Stallone, Angelina Jolie and Dustin Hoffman.


“Currently, the contestants are being identified.” He expects shooting for the show to begin in April. Mr Amritraj, however, feels that the India entertainment industry has a lot of catching up to do. “On a financial basis it’s growing but not as much as other markets. Russia, Brazil, all are growing faster.” He pointed out that even movies made in the UK, France, Italy, Japan and South Korea consistently bring in revenues of more than $100 million. “Here, movies are a $25-30-million business.”


He is also cautious about committing to more Indian projects. “Let me make it clear we don’t want to do numbers like a studio. It’s finding an individual project that could be interesting,” Mr Amritraj said. “And, we don’t want to do things that have already been done in India.”


Source:The Economic Times

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