Reliance goes Big with $1 bil unit

Future of Indian movies will include sex and violence

CANNES -- The future of Indian movies will include sex and violence in addition to dancing and tea, according to India's Reliance Big Entertainment, a new billion-dollar backed subsidiary of Reliance ADA Group, based in Mumbai. But "only if the stories told require it," creative director Prasoon Joshi said at the launch of the entertainment and media arm of the $75 billion Reliance. "We're not going to start making pornography," he said.

Company chiefs also said Big has struck a brace of production deals including a three-year, first-look deal with filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Choprathat will kick off with his English-language gangster pic "Broken Horses." Oscar-nominated Nick Pileggi is a script consultant on the project.

In addition, the Indian giant also has struck a six-picture, two-year deal with Excel Entertainment.

Reliance president Rajesh Sawhney, chairman Amit Khanna and Joshi unveiled the company's initial production slate of 69 films, spanning nine languages with budgets ranging from $1million to $25 million.

The films are set for production and distribution over the next two years.

The Big trio wheeled out Chopra; his agent, ICM topper Jeff Berg; filmmaker Abhinay Deo; and Abhishek Kapoor at a news conference held Friday morning.

Big already has corralled a stable of noted Bollywood and regional Indian directors including Farhan Akhtar, Ram Gopal Varma, Shyam Benegal, Buddhadeb Das Gupta and Rituparno Gosh to make movies for them.

Reliance's empire spans production, distribution, home entertainment and exhibition across the subcontinent and also has outposts in Sri Lanka and Mauritius among others. Khanna said the company plans to open offices in New York and Los Angeles.

The company also is the exclusive licensee for Universal in India, Sri Lanka and Mauritius, with access to more than 8,000 Universal titles.

Big also is acquiring non-Indian films while in Cannes, and has bought 10 films from Universal, Khanna said.

Mira Advani contributed to this report.