While in the process of acquiring Kill Bill 1 and 2 for distribution in India, my then colleague Kamal Gianchandani, who now heads film distribution in Big Pictures, and I had the pleasure of meeting Quentin Tarantino, director of the Kill Bill films, at the Miramax lunch in Cannes, which used to be an annual affair and was hosted by the Weinstein Brothers.
When we told him about the release of the films in India, Tarantino was excited and said that he follows Indian cinema. We told him we also planned to dub the film in many Indian languages and he requested us to send him local Indian posters of the films for his personal collection. Despite Tarantino’s fascination for India, I am not sure if he is aware that Kaminey, co-produced and distributed by UTV Motion Pictures, pays homage to the kind of films he makes so well.
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The handling of the subject, the atmosphere and, of course, the background music spoke volumes about Tarantino’s influence on Kaminey (if Kaminey was a provocative title, Tarantino’s next, Inglourious Basterds, is an even more provocative one).
Mixed reaction: A still from Kaminey. The film’s overall business is expected to be Rs20-22 crore.
To quote Tarantino on the supposed misspelling: “Here’s the thing. I’m never going to explain that. You do an artistic flourish like that, and to explain it would just take the piss out of it and invalidate the whole stroke in the first place.”
The story of Kaminey also conclusively proved that cinematic language is universal. We have always imagined that a film about twins on either side of the law reflects a truly Indian sentiment.
However, the idea for Kaminey is credited to Cajetan Boy, a Kenyan national, who presented this story during the Maisha Film Lab Workshop, an initiative of Mira Nair. For his effort, not only did Cajetan get an opening credit, but he also had one of the characters in the film named after him.
Kaminey was scheduled to release with 430 prints and in about 1,000 screens in India. Unfortunately, the film did not open on Friday in Mumbai and Pune due to a government directive to shut all movie theatres because of swine flu. The reviews were outstanding and the opening of the film was superb. However, the film generated rather extreme reactions. People either hated it or loved it.
The film cost Rs45 crore including print and advertising (P&A) and as far as its recoveries are concerned, the distributor share in the first week is about Rs15 crore, including minimum guarantees (MGs) and also including the share of Mumbai, where the film released from Monday onwards. The film’s overall business is expected to wind up at about Rs20-22 crore after taking into account the share from insurance claim towards loss of business.
The film did admirably in the overseas market as well and would do a business of about Rs6-8 crore in its entire run. Adding the revenues from other monetizable rights, the total recovery for Kaminey will be about Rs36-38 crore, which is a loss of about Rs8-10 crore for UTV in the first cycle of revenues.
The second release of the week Life Partner was acquired by Studio 18 at a price of Rs33 crore including P&A. Life Partner was also slated to release with about 300 prints and in 720 screens in India. But the film had to face the same problem of a deferred release in Mumbai and Pune. The reviews were just about average but it attracted family audiences, resulting in a decent opening at the cinemas.
The first week’s business of Life Partner from India theatrical was Rs8 crore and it will reach a final figure of about Rs10-12 crore at the end of its run after taking into account the recovery from insurance cover.
Other rights will fetch an additional Rs8-10 crore, resulting in a total recovery of Rs18-20 crore, which means a loss of about Rs13-15 crore for Studio 18 in the first cycle of revenues.
Before the Rains, directed by Santosh Sivan, was also affected because of the closure of cinemas in Mumbai and Pune, as it was anyway a limited release film in about 50 cinemas in key metros. The closure killed the film’s prospects completely.
The films scheduled for release on Friday are Sikandar and Shadow in Hindi, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past in English and G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.
Ashish Saksena is an executive with extensive experience in India’s entertainment sector and was previously CEO of PVR Pictures. His weekly column looks at the business side of Bollywood releases.
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