SPE expanding India production plans

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MUMBAI -- Following Sony Pictures Entertainment’s debut of a Bollywood production "Saawariya" (“Beloved”), the major is expanding its India production plans.

"We plan to produce at least six films a year for Indian audiences," said Mumbai-based SPE Films India executive vp Uday Singh in an interview on the sidelines of the ongoing FICCI Frames conference Wednesday (26). SPE became the first major Hollywood studio to produce and premiere a Bollywood film for an Indian audience.

Singh, who was previously MD of Mumbai-based Sony Pictures Releasing of India explained that SPRI would now "focus only on distribution while SPE Films India would handle productions." Singh was recently elevated to his new position at SPE India adding that "a replacement for my position at SPRI will be finalized soon."

SPE India "will look at Indian themes for mainstream audiences. With this content, our mandate is to also exploit synergies with group affiliates Sony Entertainment Television and music label Sony BMG,” Singh added.

He did not provide an estimated budget for the planned production slate, as projects are still "at the development stage.”

Given that sometimes Bollywood films are accused of lifting Hollywood or international storylines, Singh said, "We want to create awareness in the market about respect for intellectual property. Recently, we took out ads in some local trades alerting the industry that SPE owns copyright to titles such as "Jerry Maguire" and other catalog product."

Recent unconfirmed media reports had hinted that local producers were planning a Bollywood version of "Jerry Maguire" for leading star Salman Khan.

"I guess as we become increasingly active in local productions, the industry will be more aware of copyright issues and that remakes are only possible if proper permission is obtained from original copyright holders," Singh added.
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