Endemol India, Fox Star Studios Partner on Hindi Thriller 'Traffic'

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The Asian investment arm of former News Corp. top executive Peter Chernin's company owns a big stake in Endemol India.

The adaptation of a South Indian-language release with the same title comes as Endemol India, in which the Asian investment arm of Peter Chernin's company owns 49 percent, continues to push into the movie business.

Endemol India has partnered with 21st Century Fox's Fox Star Studios for the thriller Traffic, marking the television major's Hindi film debut.

Adapted from the original Malayalam South Indian-language title of the same name, the Hindi version of Traffic will be co-produced by Endemol's newly launched film arm Eyedentity Motion Pictures.

Endemol India is 51 percent owned by independent TV production giant Endemol, with CA Media, the Asian investment arm of Peter Chernin's The Chernin Group, owning the rest. Chernin used to be Rupert Murdoch's right-hand man in his former role as president and COO of what used to be known as News Corp. before its midyear split.

Endemol India is a big independent producer of TV shows, such as local adaptations of Big Brother and Fear Factor, among others, but has recently pushed into the film business.

Traffic will be directed by Naward-winning filmmaker Rajesh Pillai who also directed the original. Set for release on March 7, the film will star leading actor Manoj Bajpai (Gangs of Wasseypur), Jimmy Shergill, Prosenjit Parambrata and actresses Divya Dutta and Kitu Gidwani, among others.

Based on a real-life incident, the high-voltage drama is described as “a battle against time when stakes run high and life is in danger.”

“With Traffic, Endemol enters the Hindi film sphere, and we are fortunate to have partnered with Fox Star Studios for such an incredible script that involves a diverse mix of characters caught in an unlikely situation,” said Endemol India managing director and CEO Deepak Dhar.

“We are excited to have partnered with Endemol India as they debut in the Indian film industry," added Fox Star Studios CEO Vijay Singh. "It promises to be an emotionally thrilling experience."

As previously reported, FSS has been expanding its upcoming slate with a slew of remakes, which include City Lights, the Hindi version of U.K. foreign-language film Oscar entry Metro Manila. Also in the works is a Hindi version of South Indian-language crowd-funded success Lucia and a Bollywood remake of the Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz starrer Knight And Day entitled Bang! Bang!

As it pushes into the film business, Endemol India is also planning the first-ever film adaptation of Big Brother. The show's Indian version, Big Boss, has had a six-season run.

In February, Endemol India also announced a strategic alliance with leading film and distribution entity Eros International Media. The alliance earmarked an investment of about $16 million (rupees 1 billion) to produce three films. The partnership also includes the production of original TV programming.

While further details were not given, the Endemol-Eros film deal includes an action comedy, which will be a remake of a South Indian blockbuster, an original romantic comedy and a comedy-adventure film.

In another film-centric move, Endemol India previously acquired the South Indian remake rights to hit Hindi thriller Kahaani, produced by Viacom18 Motion Pictures.