Joined: 21 June 2005
Filmmaker Karan Johar has promised to help his US counterpart Ashok Amritraj find an Indian heroine for his next venture.
This was part of the discussion in a special session Thursday morning of 'In Conversation' at Frames 2006, the annual meet that reviews the state of the Indian entertainment and media industries.
In a wide-ranging chat, the former tennis star-turned-filmmaker Amritraj disclosed that Indian film technicians had a better chance of making it big in Hollywood than Indian actors. He also said India lacked good scriptwriters and that Johar's "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham" could have had a bigger audience in the US market than "Black".
The filmmaker said he was planning to make a film called "The Other End of the Line", about an Indian girl and an American, to be made 50 percent in each country, for which Johar said "we're going to find you that girl because we have a lot of talent in India".
Amritraj stopped short of naming the sexiest actress in India despite repeated pressure from Johar.
"Mmmm.... Errr...., I'll have to ask for help on that one from Yash (Chopra, sitting in the front row)," said Amritraj, and candidly excluded Amitabh Bachchan from his list of three most favourite actors, citing the Khans - Shah Rukh, Aamir and Saif Ali.
The former tennis player described Saif Ali Khan's film "Parineeta" as the best one he had seen in recent times, but refused to budge on the sexiest actress issue.
"When I was growing up, actresses were 5' 3" and a lot heavier, but these days they are 5' 9" and match any in the West," Amritraj said.
Described by Johar as "an ambassador for Bollywood in the US", Amritraj said there were still many issues that needed to be addressed before Indian films became acceptable to US distributors.
Commenting on Johar's query on the advantages of a linkup with a big name such as Sony, as had recently been done by award-winning filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Amritraj said this would not necessarily guarantee 1,000 screens in the US immediately.
"I think part of the problem has been that the US companies have not yet figured out how to sell an Indian film to a traditional white audience. The costs of advertising and marketing for an American movie is so high - $30-$40 million for the first weekend - so when you pick up one of these (Indian) films what do you do with it?'
But with all the studios now looking at India for production, Amritraj was confident that the situation would change in a year or two.
Asked about the standard of Indian movies, Amritraj said "like elsewhere in the world, (India) has four or five great filmmakers, like yourself, Yash and the other guys."
"The most brilliance I've seen about Indian cinema is the filming and the photography. They get amazing stuff on screen - unbelievable colours and amazing beauty, but I think it's greatly lacking in content."
Prompted on whether he voted for "Paheli" in the Best Foreign film category of the Oscars as a member of the Academy, Amritraj responded almost indignantly: "Of course I voted for 'Paheli'! Absolutely! I am extremely loyal to Indian films, I must say, and I happened to like the film. I think Shah Rukh is an extremely talented actor."
But there were other issues about why "Paheli" had not made it: "To get an 80-year-old guy from the Academy to come and watch 'Paheli', when it's not been distributed by a studio, is not easy."
Joined: 07 October 2005
Joined: 27 January 2005
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