Jaman.com signs multipicture Bollywood deal

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NEW DELHI -- San Mateo, Calif.-based cinema portal Jaman.com announced Friday a 30-film distribution deal with India's state-run National Film Development Corp. that will see online premieres of films by leading Indian directors such as Satyajit Ray, Shyam Benegal and Mrinal Sen.

Jaman, which launched in February, will offer downloads for $4.99 including Ray's "Agantuk" (The Stranger), Benegal's "Mammo," Sen's "Antareen" (Confined) along with films from other acclaimed directors such as Kundan Shah, known for his comic hit "Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro" (Who Pays the Piper), Govind Nihalani (Party) and Aparna Sen "Yugant" (End of Time).

"While excellent films are made all over the world every year, less than 1% of them get traditional distribution in the U.S.," Jaman CEO Gaurav Dhillon said. "Our partnership with NFDC makes the work of India's top directors available to anyone with Internet access. These films clearly show that alongside a prolific Bollywood film industry, India has a deep and rich history of cinematic excellence."

Terms of the deal were not specified.

Mumbai-based NFDC (and its predecessor the Film Finance Corp.) has funded and produced more than 300 films including co-producing Richard Attenborough's 1982 biopic "Gandhi."

At March's Hong Kong Film Mart, Jaman said it offers 1,000 titles for purchase and rent online, including many movies from such East Asian film companies as Celestial, Arclight, MK Pictures and Cineclick (HR 3/26).
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