The Bengali movie industry is set to be revived, if corporations like Shemaroo Entertainment, Reliance Big Entertainment, Saregama Films, Fun Multiplex, and National Film Development Corporation’s plans are anything to go by.
The companies have lined up investments in excess of Rs 150 crore for Bengali movies over the next two years, including post-production, marketing with merchandise and even mobile downloads of movie songs.
The Bengali movie industry is estimated at close to Rs 40 crore. Of a total of 800 films released per year in India at least 43 are Bengali.
Bengali movies are made with a budget of Rs 1-2 crore. According to Bengali movie directors as well as associations like Eastern India Motion Picture Association (EIMPA), Bengali film industry can be revived the moment there are enough quality spaces for their viewing and enough people willing to watch Bengali movies.
“People these days avoid watching Bengali movies because of two reasons. One because the prints are of poor quality, and second because there is perhaps not a single movie theatre right now in West Bengal in a good condition so people can watch movies in comfort,” said Gautam Ghosh, eminent movie director of ‘Abar Aranye’ and ‘Yatra’ fame.
Reliance Entertainment plans to revive the Bengali movie and bring it on an equal footing with South Indian movie market, which is estimated to be double the size of Hindi movies in India.
The company is planning to set up multiplexes in West Bengal as well as buy a few of the existing dilapidated standalone multiplexes in the state and re-do them.
Fun Multiplex, too, is planning to acquire some of the dilapidated movie theatres in Bengal and re-do and rebrand them as ‘Talkie Town’.
Currently the company has 10 Talkie Towns in the country, which are all revamped models of dilapidated standalone theatres.
“We are looking at standalone properties in Kolkata for acquiring and rebranding them as Talkie Town but most properties in the city are rather small. Our smallest Talkie Town is a 200-seater, while the largest is around 1200-seater. We would therefore look at smaller cities for setting up the Talkie Town brand, in places like Durgapur, Howrah, Asansol, Jharkhand, etc,” explained Vishal Kapur, COO of Fun Multiplex Pvt Ltd.
Reliance is also talking to some of the renowned Bengali actors, directors and artists in Bengal, like Prasenjit, Rituparno Ghosh and others, to make and produce big-ticket movies with them.
Kulmeet Makkar, CEO, Big Music and Home Entertainment, said: “Bengali movies don’t have much of a fan-following because they look shabby due to limited monetary investment into their creation and promotion. The most expensive Bengali movie would be made with a budget of Rs 3 crore, while other regional movies like the ones in Tamil would have a budget of Rs 40 crore.”
Shemaroo Films, on its part, is all set to revive Bengali movies in terms of digitally-made quality movie prints as well as offer its audiences quality spaces for comfortable viewing.
According to Roshni Sen, assistant vice-president – marketing, Shemaroo Entertainment, regional language movies have a lot of potential for growth if positioned properly.
Shemaroo Films has tied up with Inox Movies to promote the movies on the national level.
Besides world distributions rights, Shemaroo’s Bengali movies will be made with subtitles so that people in other regions can also understand.
Likewise, National Film Development Corporation of India (NFDC), the nodal body for promoting cinema in the country, is talking to film institutes in Kolkata for budding directors with whom NFDC will produce Bengali movies.