The common belief is that for films to be commercially viable, they must feature stars and “stick to the formula”.
Next year, with a bouquet of 52 feature-length films, Zee TV is all set to change that belief. The broadcaster is commissioning new films based on scripts which would not have found mass market distributors otherwise. Three films have already been canned.
Zee TV has given the charge of its television films project to filmmaker Sudhir Mishra who says that neither are the films big-budget nor multi-starrers.
“Yet directors are queuing up to be a part of the project as they want to make films of their own conviction,” he adds. The films are being produced for under Rs 1 crore each.
Zee TV president Abhijit Saxena says that the channel is keeping HBO as its benchmark. “Everybody waits for an HBO original, because despite the absence of stars, it is cinema of the highest order,” he says.
The films will be screened on the channel from January 2005 and Zee TV expects to rejuvenate its movie slot Zee Premiere with the help of these original films. The move is also being seen as Zee’s attempt to regain its lost glory since Star Plus and Sony have stolen a march over it.
But will the experiment work considering that media analysts say that the Zee Premiere Thursday slot came a cropper last time round? Media planners had said that the cost of acquisition of films was too high.
Saxena, of course, does not agree: “In fact we made money and film acquisition for the movie channel will continue,” he says.
Meanwhile, Sudhir Misra adds that while the films will premiere on the Zee network, “quite a few of them will see theatrical release as well”.