Netflix, Apple Cross Swords In Indian Streaming Market



Competition in India’s booming streaming market is heating up as Netflix joins forces with a director of Bollywood feel-good blockbusters and Apple launches its TV platform for 99 rupees ($1.39) a month.

Netflix announced late Wednesday a long-term partnership with Karan Johar’s Dharmatic Entertainment to make a range of new fiction and non-fiction series and films for the platform.

Johar has directed eight films including “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” with Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan, and “Raazi”, nominated for best picture at next week’s Indian International Film Academy (IIFA) Awards, dubbed the Bollywood Oscars.

“It’s going to be P.H.A.T — pretty hot and tempting,” said Johar, whose Dharma Entertainment is one of India’s biggest production firms and which already teamed up with Netflix for the successful “Lust Stories” anthology.

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Netflix launched in India in 2016 and two of its Indian-made series have won critical acclaim — “Sacred Games” starring Saif Ali Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and “Leila” with Huma Qureishi.

But Netflix faces stiff competition in Asia’s third-largest economy as Amazon’s Prime Video, Disney’s Hotstar, Alt Balaji and other local platforms jostle for digital subscriptions and eyeballs.

US technology giant Apple on Wednesday announced the launch of its streaming platform Apple TV+ in India, hoping to upend competition.

Netflix is available in India from 199 rupees a month and as millions of first-time users access internet in Asia’s third-largest economy, analysts expect competition to intensify.

India’s video-streaming industry is expected to grow at nearly 22 percent per annum to 119 billion rupees ($1.7 billion) by 2023 according to consultancy PwC, Bloomberg News reported.

Netflix chief Reed Hastings has said the company’s goal is 100 million customers in India — almost 25 times its estimated subscriber base there as of this year, Bloomberg said.

Aamir Khan To Star in Bollywood’s ‘Forrest Gump’ Remake

Indian Bollywood actor and producer Aamir Khan (L) along with his wife, film director and screenwriter Kiran Rao Khan (R)/ AFP


Bollywood megastar Aamir Khan announced on Thursday that he is to star in an official Hindi-language remake of hit American movie “Forrest Gump”.

Khan will play the role of Laal Singh Chaddha, based on Tom Hanks’s character in the 1994 multiple-award-winning US classic.

“I have always loved ‘Forrest Gump’ as a script. It is a life-affirming story. It is a feel-good film. It is a film for the whole family,” Khan told reporters in Mumbai on his 54th birthday.

“Forrest Gump” won six Oscars, including best picture, best director and best actor for Hanks.

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The film was directed by Robert Zemeckis and was based on Winston Groom’s 1986 novel of the same name.

It centers on the life of a dim-witted but kind man whose life mirrors key events in America in the 20th century.

Khan, who last appeared in box office flop “Thugs of Hindostan”, said he would lose 20 kilograms (45 pounds) for the role.

“I have to be lean and slim,” he explained, adding that shooting would start in October.

Hollywood blockbusters have long inspired the Mumbai-based Hindi film industry.

Action-thriller “Kaante” (2002) was influenced by Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs” while “Sarkar” (2005) was likened to “The Godfather” and “Chachi 420” was similar to “Mrs. Doubtfire”, although they weren’t official remakes.

Khan’s adaptation of “Forrest Gump” is expected to hit screens next year. Khan said the rights to the movie were bought from Paramount.

An official remake of 2014 Hollywood film “The Fault in Our Stars” is also in the works.


Bollywood Bad Boy Back With Eid Blockbuster

Indian Bollywood actor Salman Khan attends the politician Baba Siddique’s Annual Iftar party in Mumbai on June 10, 2018.
Sujit Jaiswal / AFP


Bollywood bad boy Salman Khan’s first movie since his conviction for shooting dead endangered wildlife opened across India Friday, with analysts predicting box office success for his latest Eid blockbuster.

It has become a tradition in the Hindi film industry for Khan, one of the world’s highest-paid actors, to star in the big release on the Muslim holiday of Eid to mark the end of Ramadan, which begins on Saturday in India.

Action movie “Race 3” is Khan’s fifth straight Eid release and his eighth since 2010.

It is also his first film since he was handed a five-year jail sentence in April for shooting dead two rare antelopes known as black bucks during a 1998 hunting trip.

The 52-year-old, who has repeatedly denied killing the animals, spent two days behind bars before being granted bail.

The bodybuilding actor suffered a rare commercial failure last Eid when “Tubelight”, a drama set during the 1962 India-China war, flopped at the box office but analysts expect “Race 3” to soar.

“It’s Salman Khan, it’s Eid weekend and it’s an action franchise that plays to the galleries and has always been successful. I expect it to make great money,” film distributor Akshaye Rathi told AFP.

Rathi tipped the movie, which also stars Anil Kapoor and Bobby Deol, to make one billion rupees ($14.72 million) during its opening weekend, the benchmark for a surefire blockbuster.

Khan enjoys a cult-like status in star-obsessed India and is one of Bollywood’s biggest draws, despite a host of controversies.

He was found guilty of culpable homicide for a 2002 hit-and-run which killed a homeless man sleeping on the pavement in Mumbai, and was sentenced to five years in prison.

But the verdict was overturned by a higher court in 2015. His acquittal is being challenged in the Supreme Court.

Khan was last seen in “Tiger Zinda Hai” (Tiger Is Alive), released in December.

His 2015 Eid release, “Bajrangi Bhaijaan”, sits third in the all-time list of highest-grossing Hindi language films worldwide, two places ahead of his 2016 Eid offering “Sultan”.

Bollywood Superstar Sridevi Dies At 54

(FILES) This file photo taken on April 5, 2013 shows then-Indian President Pranab Mukherjee (R) presenting the Padma Shree award to Indian film actress Sridevi (L) during the presentation of the “Padma Awards 2013” at the Presidential Palace in New Delhi. Veteran Bollywood actress Sridevi Kapoor, considered by many to be the first female superstar of Hindi cinema, has died after suffering a heart attack in Dubai, her family told PTI on February 25, 2018.



Bollywood superstar Sridevi Kapoor, one of the biggest names in Hindi cinema, has died at age 54 after suffering a heart attack in Dubai, her former manager said Sunday. 

The death of Sridevi, reportedly while attending her nephew’s wedding in the emirate late Saturday, prompted an outpouring of grief from fans and fellow actors and condolences from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“I have no words. Condolences to everyone who loved Sridevi. A dark day. RIP”, tweeted actress Priyanka Chopra.

Hundreds started gathering outside Sridevi’s home in Mumbai’s Lokhandwala neighbourhood Sunday morning.

“It is shocking and sad,” her former manager Punkej Kharbanda told AFP. Her husband was with her at her death, he said.

Sridevi, born Shree Amma Yanger Ayappan in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, made her acting debut at the age of four and her career spanned more than four decades.

She worked in India’s regional Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam-language films before making her Bollywood debut in 1979.

Sridevi made a name for herself with a string of blockbuster films including “Chandni”, “Mr India”, “Mawali” (“Scoundrel”) and “Tohfa” (“Gift”).

Her first smash hit was the 1982 Tamil film “Moondram Pirai” and she played the same role in its Hindi remake, “Sadma” (“Trauma”).

Her portrayal of a woman suffering from amnesia has been described by many critics as a milestone.

Kamal Haasan, her co-star in “Sadma”, paid tribute on Twitter.

“Have witnessed Sridevi’s life from an adolescent teenager to the magnificent lady she became. Her stardom was well deserved,” Haasan tweeted.

“Many happy moments with her flash through my mind including the last time I met her. Sadma’s lullaby haunts me now. We’ll miss her,” he added.

The local police made arrangements to handle the swelling crowds outside Sridevi’s home. Many were expected to wait till the family returns to Mumbai on Sunday afternoon with the body.

“I came rushing here after reading news pertaining to Sridevi’s death. She was our female Amitabh Bachchan (one of the biggest Bollywood stars) and I have watched all her movies,” Vimal Khandakade told AFP.

“I have always been a big fan and loved her performances… I will wait till her body is brought back and want to bid her farewell.”

Shoumik Mahapatra, 16, said he had grown up watching Sridevi’s movies. “She was so colourful and bold and I was always impressed by her character. I am very shocked by the news.”

 ‘Continued grace’ 

In an interview with The New Indian Express in 2013, Sridevi spoke of missing out on a carefree childhood when she began working as an actor.

“I lost out on going to school and college life but I got into the film industry and worked without a gap — from child actor I went straight to heroine. There was no time to think and I was grateful for it,” she said.

“In order to get something you have to lose something. You can’t have everything in life. So I am happy with what I got.”

Sridevi was awarded the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian award, for her services to the film industry.

She was especially admired for her ability to overcome language barriers and work in different regional film industries.

Sridevi appeared in around 300 films and was set to see her older daughter Jhanvi make her Bollywood debut soon.

Social media and television channels carried hundreds of tributes.

Leading Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar expressed  shock at her “untimely demise”.

“A dream for many, had the good fortune of sharing screen space with her long ago and witnessed her continued grace over the years,” Kumar tweeted.

Madhuri Dixit, whose fame rivalled Sridevi’s, said the world “has lost a very talented person who left behind a huge legacy in film”.

Prime Minister Modi said he was saddened by the news. “She was a veteran of the film industry, whose long career included diverse roles and memorable performances,” Modi tweeted.

“My thoughts are with her family and admirers in this hour of grief.”

Sridevi is survived by her husband, film producer Boney Kapoor, and their two daughters Jhanvi and Khushi.


Bollywood Bids Farewell To Indian Film Legend Shashi

Indian filmstar Shashi. Photo: INDRANIL MUKHERJEE / AFP

Bollywood stars paid their last respects to screen legend Shashi Kapoor at his funeral Tuesday as tributes poured in for the multiple award-winning actor who died after a long illness.

Veteran Indian cinema icon Amitabh Bachchan, who starred alongside Kapoor in several hit Hindi films of the 1970s, and actor Shah Rukh Khan were among mourners at the ceremony in Mumbai, the home of Bollywood.

Kapoor appeared in more than 150 films and was a member of Indian cinema’s most famous acting dynasty. He died on Monday aged 79 after a years-long battle with kidney disease.

Actors and directors from across the Hindi movie industry paid tribute to Kapoor who was one of the first Indian actors to work abroad, appearing in several Merchant Ivory films.

He often played the role of romantic action hero and was known for his suave good looks.

In a blog post Tuesday Bachchan described Kapoor as an “incredibly handsome man” with a “devastating smile complementing the twinkle in his eyes”.

Shashi was the youngest son of Prithviraj Kapoor, a pioneer of Hindi film and theatre. His eldest brother Raj Kapoor, who died in 1988, was also a famous Hindi movie star.

Shashi’s most memorable roles were in such films as “Jab Jab Phool Khile” (Whenever The Flowers Bloom, 1965), “Kabhi Kabhie” (Sometimes, 1976), and “Kalyug” (Age of Downfall, 1981).

He was also adored for his role opposite Bachchan in the hit movie “Deewaar” (The Wall, 1975) in which he delivered one of Hindi cinema’s most famous lines — ‘Mere paas maa hai’ (I have a mother).

Shashi appeared in the Merchant Ivory films “The Householder” (1963), “Heat and Dust” (1983) and “Shakespeare Wallah” (1965).

In 1972 he starred alongside actress Simi Garewal in the American film “Siddhartha”.

Garewal said she was “deeply saddened” by Kapoor’s death.

“The last of that generation of Kapoors is gone. A gentleman and friend is gone. All that remain are his memories,” read a post on her Twitter page.

Acclaimed director Karan Johar described Kapoor as “the most charming and enigmatic actor ever… a gentleman movie star!”

“His legacy in film and theatre is exceptional…thoughts and prayers with the family….his work will always live on…” Johar wrote on Twitter.

“Innumerable Bollywood dreams came to life watching your iconic dialogue, ‘Mere paas maa hai’,” tweeted actor Akshay Kumar, adding: “Your tremendous contribution to cinema will always be remembered. RIP #ShashiKapoor ji”.

Shashi Kapoor was married to English actress Jennifer Kendal for 26 years until her death in 1984.

He won numerous acting prizes and in 2011 was honoured with the Padma Bhushan, one of India’s highest civilian awards.

Shashi’s nephew Rishi Kapoor and Rishi’s son, Ranbir, both also famous actors, attended Tuesday’s funeral held in unseasonal rain brought by Cyclone Ockhi off India’s west coast.


Bollywood’s ‘Deadly Dutt’ Back On Indian Screens After Jail Time

 This file photo taken on August 21, 2017 shows Indian Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt during the recording of the song ‘Ganesh Aarti’ for Hindi film ‘Bhoomi’ in Mumbai./ AFP PHOTO / STR

Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt returned to Indian cinema screens on Friday in his first film since serving four years in prison for possessing weapons supplied by gangsters behind the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts.

The disgraced star, 58, plays the role of a father who seeks revenge for the gang-rape of his daughter in Hindi-language action thriller “Bhoomi”, directed by Omung Kumar.

Dutt walked free from jail in 2016. He last appeared in a film in 2014 and promoters trailed Friday’s release with a poster on social media declaring: “The Beast is Back”.

“I’m very excited to see ‘Bhoomi’. I’m sure it will be a big hit,” said ardent fan Sandeep Bachche, who has a tattoo of Dutt’s face inked on his left arm.

The rickshaw driver has another tattoo referencing the title of one of Dutt’s most famous film roles while the inside of his three-wheeler is covered in posters of the actor.

“I have booked tickets to watch three consecutive shows on the first day,” Bachche told AFP, admitting that he would be watching them alone.

Dutt shot to fame in the mid-1980s in a string of action movies in which he performed his own stunts, earning him the nickname “Deadly Dutt”.

He is best known for playing a mobster with a heart of gold in the popular “Munna Bhai” series.
Reviewers appeared lukewarm about “Bhoomi” but praised Dutt’s performance.

“Watch Bhoomi for Dutt. He’s from that era of larger-than-life heroes who get you to whistle even when he is killing people,” said a review in the Times of India.

Dutt was convicted in 2006 of holding guns supplied by mafia bosses who orchestrated the 1993 bombings that killed 257 people.

The attacks were believed to have been staged by Muslim underworld figures in retaliation for religious riots in which mainly Muslims died, following the razing of an ancient mosque in north India.

Dutt insisted the two guns were only meant to protect his family in the tense atmosphere in Mumbai following the mosque’s destruction.

He was originally given a six-year term and spent 18 months in prison before being released on bail in 2007, pending an appeal.

In March 2013, the Supreme Court upheld his conviction but cut his prison term to five years, sending Dutt back to jail to serve the remaining three-and-a half years of his sentence.

He was granted several months of freedom at different times to work on unfinished Bollywood movies and his last film appearance came in science fiction hit “PK” three years ago.

Dutt was released in February last year, eight months ahead of schedule for good behaviour. Activists claimed he was given special treatment because of his celebrity status.

He has several films in the pipeline including “Munna Bhai 3”, “Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3”, “Malang” and “Torbaaz”.
A biopic is also being made on his troubled life, with Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor playing Dutt.


Nigerian Filmmakers Should Focus On Africa, Not Hollywood – Charles Novia

A Nigerian movie maker, Charles Novia, has defined his target market as 1 billion Africans who can relate to stories about the ‘Black man,’ adding that, the desire to break into Hollywood will only lead to a struggle for recognition.

Speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Novia spoke about the interrelationship between the top three film industries in the world: Hollywood, Bollywood and Nollywood.

He advised local film makers to concentrate on the ready market available in Africa rather than aim to attain recognition by Hollywood which will amount to a struggle to be known.

Novia, who made a comparison between plots in Nigerian movies versus plots in Hollywood movies, said that Hollywood filmmakers have been able to make the concept of ‘magic,’ which is tagged ‘voodoo’ in African movies, appealing.

Film festivals such as the African Film Festival currently holding at Tinapa in Calabar is a platform on which film makers and actors from the different sides of the divide interact.

Novia commended the organisers of the event which has attracted both the international and Nigerian community to the centre.

He also spoke about Tinapa and the reason why it is yet to achieve its potentials.

He explained that the original plan for building Tinapa was to encourage the film industry and advertising agencies to shoot films and commercials locally but there was a mistake along the line.

He pointed out that as at the time Tinapa was built, the structures were ahead of times and movie professionals were not consulted.

“The grandiose idea of the structure wasn’t really made with the local industry in mind,” he said adding that the error was the reason why the structure ‘remained fallow’ until recently, when Ebony Live TV started using it.

If the structures were to be built now, there would be more input from filmmakers.

Novia also said that Calabar is a good location for film makers because of the ambience and serenity but wondered why most film makers are not using it as a film base.

He credited this to a ‘bandwagon mentality’ which causes stakeholders to emulate each other.

He commented on the visit by international movie makers and actors to events in Nigeria and said there is a disconnect somewhere as to the intent of such visit. He tagged it as a good PR mechanism.

Evolution of Nigeria entertainment industry

As Nigeria celebrates 52 years of Independence from colonial rule, one sector that has experienced tremendous growth is the entertainment industry.

The video report below chronicles the evolution of the movie and music part of the entertainment industry that started to grow and shows various levels of development in Nigeria.

The report also contains advices from veteran musicians and actors for upcoming professional in the entertainment industry.

Nollywood a secret gold mine!

Nollywood touted to be the third largest movie industry in the world after Hollywood and Bollywood.

In recent times, it has even been referred to as second to Hollywood after many argument that it is now producing more movies than its Indian counterpart. Quantity alone is what Nollywood has got to show almost two decades after its redefinition
Until recently, the industry as presumably large as it is still remains obscure to the international market that matters.

Outside Africa it is almost non-existent, Hollywood actors who have visited the country including Forest Whitaker, Danny Glover and Morris Chestnut have all admitted knowing next to nothing about this supposedly world movie power house until a little before their arrival in the country.

Having experienced the industry firsthand, albeit peripheral, these Hollywooders all admit that the industry is living way below its potentials and they have all shown interest in wanting to be a part of the industry.

However while some of them are talking the talk, Hollywood top actor, Isaiah Washington and Vivica Fox and a few others are already walking the walk.

In what appears to be the first authentic Hollywood meets Nollywood project, Washington and Fox alongside Jimmy Jean Louis, Bern Cohen and Victor Browne will be teaming up with Genevieve Nnaji, Stephanie Okereke and Desmond Elliot for a Tony Abulu flick titled Dr. Bello.

While most of these professional moviemakers feel excited about testing new career waters, they didn’t mince words sharing that knowledge of the potentials of Nollywood is also super convincing.

Washington told pressmen in Nigeria that the American government is already looking to explore the sleeping giant called Nollywood for economic reasons.