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Thursday, 18 July, 2002, 06:52 GMT 07:52 UK
Murdoch set to make Bollywood debut
Bollywood shooting
Bollywood makes more films than anyone else
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch is set to try his luck in the vast Indian film industry, Bollywood.

Murdoch's Twentieth Century Fox is to produce three Bollywood films in collaboration with two Indian production companies.


we have decided to take the plunge

Aditya Shastri, Fox India
It is the first foreign production company to enter Bollywood marking fresh ground for one of the world's most prolific film industries.

Leading Indian film maker Ram Gopal Verma is to direct the first film, described as a low-budget thriller.

Star cast

Ek Hasina Thi (Once There Was A Beautiful Woman) is due to start production in August and is scheduled to be released internationally in January.

Two of Bollywood's biggest stars, actress Urmila Matondkar and actor Saif Ali Khan, have been signed up for the film which has a budget of 60-80 million rupees ($1.2-1.6m).

The head of Twentieth Century Fox's India unit, Aditya Shastri, told the BBC that Fox had been thinking about getting into the Indian film industry for quite sometime.

Poster of Oscar-nominated Lagaan
Oscar-nominated Lagaan broke the mould
"With the market showing signs of improvement and us having found the right project and the right people to work with, we have decided to take the plunge," he said.

Although Ram Gopal Verma will direct the first film, Shastri said they would consider other directors for the other two films.

Verma is one of India's most successful directors known for his slick films which blend gritty realism with catchy soundtracks and stylish treatment.

His latest film, Company, was a fast paced thriller loosely built around the lives of two of India's most notorious underworld crime lords.

Global appeal

Twentieth Century Fox's decision to enter the Indian film industry marks another global showcase for Bollywood which is in the middle of an unprecedented run of international success.

The Bollywood film Lagaan was the first Indian film to be nominated for an Oscar when it was short listed in the Best Foreign Film category.

It was widely distributed in mainstream theatres in the United States and Europe. Bollywood films have historically enjoyed success among the large Indian diaspora across the world with the industry's main stars enjoying a large fan-following.

The Indian film industry experienced a bad start in 2002 with most Bollywood movies failing to make an impression at the box office.

However, with early reports stating that one of this year's biggest releases, Devdas, is drawing in huge crowds, Twentieth Century Fox's entry into Bollywood could well herald better times for the industry.

See also:

12 Jul 02 | South Asia
23 May 02 | South Asia
23 May 02 | Entertainment
10 Jun 02 | Entertainment
29 May 02 | Entertainment
19 Jun 02 | Entertainment
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