Friends with Benefits

Johar

It is a merger of monies and creative ideas as Bollywood production houses strike collaborative deals.

His form of storytelling, seen in films such as Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!, Love Sex Aur Dhokha and Shanghai, earned Dibakar Banerjee the reputation of being an unconventional filmmaker. So when Yash Raj Films, known for their glossed-over, larger-than-life portrayals of settings and characters, announced a three-film tie-up with the filmmaker, the news surprised many. Banerjee explains that the idea was to merge their sensibilities and create something unique. "Aditya Chopra and I had several meetings and we realised that we both respected each other's cinema. Yash Raj Films was looking to expand, and not just by signing new directors, but also by getting into co-production deals with other production houses. The idea of collaborating to create something new, fits in," says Banerjee.

This merger of monies and ideas to create newer, sometimes bigger, celluloid adventures is a concept that is fast gaining ground in Bollywood. Karan Johar's Dharma Productions and Ekta Kapoor's Balaji Motion Pictures were among the first to collaborate on Renzil D'Silva's Ungli. In recent times, Johar and Kapoor have taken to more collaborative deals. Balaji is currently engaged in co-productions with Vishal Bhardwaj Pictures for Ek Thi Daayan, Sanjay Gupta's White Feather Films for Shootout At Wadala, Bejoy Nambiar's Getaway Films for Kuku Mathur Ki Jhand Ho Gayee and Phantom Films for Lootera. Johar, on the other hand, has tied up with Anurag Kashyap to co-produce adman Vinil Matthew's directorial debut with Parineeti Chopra and Sidharth Malhotra. Bhushan Kumar's T-Series has signed a three-film deal with Vikram Bhatt's ASA Productions. The company has also collaborated with Madhur Bhandarkar for his next and with Milan Luthria for his movie with Saif Ali Khan.

Tanuj Garg, CEO, Balaji Motion Pictures, believes that what has started as an experiment is likely to turn into a trend, here to stay. "At a macro level, a co-production means pooling of creative and production skill sets, thereby giving the project added credibility and quality. This, consequently, means reaching out to a substantially larger audience."

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