Corporates rush to invest in Bengali films as Tollywood box office shows healthy returns

Tollywood film budget rises around 5-6 times.

By Prabhav Hiremath

A still from the film 'Jatiswar', scheduled to be released this year.
A still from the film ‘Jatiswar’, scheduled to be released this year.

MUMBAI: Bengali films, referred to as Tollywood, are known for producing some of India’s most critically acclaimed parallel art cinema. Few of them, like Satyajit Rays’ films, have gained international recognition. These movies are generally low budget ones, shot mostly in Indian locations; but with great impact.

This new year has some good news for Tollywood, with an increase of corporate investors looking to finance these films. It means a rise in the budget and shoots in exotic foreign locations. There are few films which have been shot overseas, like Gaurav Pandey’s ‘’ which is Bengali’s first film to be shot in Iceland and the upcoming ‘Porichoy’ by Rupali Guha shot in Newcastle, UK.

The investors looking for funding options are mainly based out of Mumbai and Kolkata, in addition to the existing big Bengali banners like Shree Venkatesh Films, Surinder Films and Eskay Movies.

Bengali film star Prosenjit Chatterjee said, “There was no dearth of creativity in the industry but we needed funds for the industry to grow and finally the corporatisation of the industry is helping it attain newer heights with box office success of Bengali films.”

The August 2013 release, Boss, produced by Reliance Entertainment and Grassroot Entertainment, starring Jeet raked in Rs. 72.5 lakhs on its release day, a new record. Surinder Singh, President of Eastern India Motion Pictures Association (EIMPA) and founder of Surinder films expressed, “With the help of these investments, naturally more movies are being made here. An earlier number of 40 to 50 films a year has gone up to more than 100 annually.”

2014 has a line-up of several big budget films ready to release, like Srijit Mukherji’s Jatiswar (with a budget of Rs. 4 crore), Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury’s Buno Hash (Rs. 4.5 crore) and Raja Chandra’s Bachchan (Rs. 5.5-6 crore).

Reliance Entertainment COO Mahesh Ramanathan is of the opinion that the company is always open to work with new directors as it did with Baba Yadav. The company’s first Bengali production was Sab Charitra Kalponik and is planning on few more movies with Srijit Mukherji in addition to the on-going Chatushkan.

Reliance’s upcoming April release, Buno Hash is directed by two times National Award Winner, Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury. The director says, “We are always open to funding and if corporates come in to help us, we could incorporate more of interesting locations and other similar qualities in the film.”

Nothing Beyond Cinema (NBC), a Kolkata based company founded and headed by Arindam Sil, too have welcomed this new opportunity. The entrepreneur says, “NBC always pressed on the fact that corporates should get into films and it is important for them to not just come but stay here.”

Sil was the executive producer of Hindi film Kahaani, directed by Sujoy Ghosh. According to Sil, corporates are putting in as much as Rs. 1.5 to 6 crores which is almost the double the budget of Bengali films presently churned out.

In similar lines to Bollywood flicks, Bengali films too are proving a good branding platform, which companies are targeting currently. Deepak Jalan from Linc Pens and Plastics expresses that Bengali films are viewed Pan India like Hindi films and in-film branding has proved to be cost-effective.

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One Comment

  1. Totally agree with this comment

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