After the Tata, Birla, Pantaloon, Raymonds to name a few, it is the turn of the Rs 1800 crore Venkateshwara Hatcheries (VH) Group to set its sights on the filmed entertainment space with its wholly owned subsidiary, Bala Entertainment International.
In an effort to create a platform for Asian cinema, Bala Entertainment has entered into a joint venture with the well known internationally acclaimed director Mira Nair’s Mirabai Films to launch ‘International Bhenji Brigade’ (IBB), a film production company that will create independent Asian cinema for the global market place.
VH Group has varied diversifies business. The group is into biological products, natural cosmetics and many more such businesses. It is the love for cinema and art that has led the group’s managing director Balaji Rao to foray into films.
“I am pleased to establish a platform with Mira Nair that will expand the global presence of Asian Cinema,”says Rao.
Funding films through corporate channels is gaining momentum - especially with the recent entry of organised players in film funding. This has been a blessing in disguise for filmmakers who aspire to experiment, innovate and try out new formulae. IBB thus plans to develop, finance and produce a slate of three or more feature films from Asia and the respective Diaspora communities.
Niel Prashad, vice president-operations, Bala Entertainment International and the brains behind the new joint venture says: “The film fund by the VH Group was set up a long time ago. But, we were waiting to partner with the right company to take our vision forward. Mira Nair’s company fit the role perfectly”.
Prashad was however tight lipped on the corpus of the fund; he only said it is several million dollars which has been set up with internal accruals. Prashad also informed that they are open to other partnerships if it comes their way.
IBB which is currently in the process of setting up its office and putting a team in place will produce Asian talent to create cinema that explores the specifically local and becomes significantly universal. “I am looking at great ideas and great original works that will truly help the cinema industry,” says Nair.
IBB is not looking at only Indian filmmakers to come up with innovative and original ideas but will also look through scripts from other Asian countries. “We are looking to establish three new South Asian directors,” Nair adds. IBB aims to offer a younger generation of Asian filmmakers the opportunity to continue Nair;’s filmmaking tradition by making films which, as Nair puts it, “gets bum on seats”.
In this venture Mira Nair will have complete freedom despite having joined hands with a corporate entity. She says that she has total freedom to work the way she has been and is not bound by any rigid rules and regulations. Nair intends to harness resources from her network of acting talent, creative production personnel, talent agencies, distributors, sales agents as well as her relationships with film schools and film festivals.