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Rs 300 crore ride on Big B's return

By Sonali Krishna in Mumbai
December 02, 2005 11:18 IST
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When Amitabh Bachchan sneezes, the whole tinseltown catches cold. With doctors advising one month's bedrest to Big B, at least Rs 300 crore (Rs 3 billion) is stuck in various projects involving films, TV shows and brand endorsements.

There are at least six Amitabh Bachchan films awaiting completion. Industry experts say Rs 175-Rs 200 crore (Rs 1.75-2 billion) alone is stuck in these films.

There is also a question mark on Rs 90 crore (Rs 900 million) invested by various companies in sponsoring Kaun Banega Crorepati 2 on Star Plus. Then there are brand endorsement projects worth Rs 20 crore (Rs 200 million) waiting to be shot.

However, trade analyst Taran Adarsh feels that the film industry does not have much to worry about as Bachchan has completed shooting for most of his films that are in the pipeline.

The only films that can get badly affected are Ravi Chopra's Babul and Rummi Jaffrey's God Tussi Great Ho. As of now, the shooting schedules of the two films have been postponed.

Besides, Star Plus may be left with no option but to repeat some of the old episodes of KBC2 if Bachchan is advised prolonged rest by his doctors.

According to Star India chief operating officer Sameer Nair, the channel has a bank of KBC2 shows that will run till December 25. If Star Plus is unable to renew shooting of the show by then, it will be left with no choice but to air some old episodes till Big B is in a position to resume work.

Although none of the KBC2 advertisers is willing to go on record, it is clear that they will not pay for the repeat shows.

Says Meenakshi Madhvani, a media auditor with Spatial Access, "The revenue flow for Star Plus will be delayed. What is crucial for Star Plus in this interim period is to sustain the viewers' attention and maintain the viewership level."

Madhvani also feels that when Bachchan comes back, interest levels for the show will shoot up dramatically as the viewers will eagerly wait to catch a glimpse of him after his illness.

On the advertising front, a number of advertisers who planned a campaign around the festive season are taking a relook at their plans.

HLL's Rin which was all set for a shoot with the Big B has postponed the plan. Bachchan is currently endorsing about eight brands including Dabur, Hajmola, Eveready, Reid and Taylor, Nerolac, Navratan Tel, De Beers and Parker.

"Bachchan's comeback is crucial, as a lot of brands are banking on him. His timely recovery is essential for brands to go ahead with their marketing plans," quips one advertising professional.
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Sonali Krishna in Mumbai
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