'Shyama' gets fresh distribution spin

Dance musical available at users' preferred price

LONDON -- Radiohead did it with album "In Rainbows" and now Obhi Chatterjee's Bengali classic dance musical hit "Shyama" is coming to viewers in the same way, with Internet users being asked to pay what they think is fair for the title.

The rights owner, Inner Eye, plans to release the movie online and said consumers can "donate an amount of money that they think is fair which will cover the cost." The Web site is prompting donations to hit the £2 ($3) mark.

An HD version is also available via IndieFlix's online VoD rental platform.

The move will give the movie industries in Hollywood, Bollywood and more traditional sellers attending the European Film Market in Berlin pause for thought for one main reason -- Inner Eye is making the movie available in a format that allows personal copying and legal sharing.

And because the movie has already been translated into a variety of languages -- including English, French, German, Italian and Spanish -- the movie can be watched by 1.2 billion people in their native languages worldwide.

Penned by the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, the all-singing all-dancing extravaganza will be made available under a "Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license" to Internet users worldwide.

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There are two motives behind the strategy: First, Inner Eye is trying to create a fresh digital distribution model using the reach of the Net. The second reason is that the filmmakers, backers and cast want the film seen by as broad an audience as possible.

"Every Bengali has heard of 'Tagore' and 'Shyama' but how many non-Bengalis have?," Chatterjee asks. "Over 70 years after its creation, digital technology now allows us to help 'Shyama' cross linguistic boundaries and bring it to new audiences all over the world."

And like Radiohead's album, the music will be made available on a pay-as-you-fancy basis.
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