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Sony bags 'Devdas' rights

By Savio G Pinto in Mumbai
January 25, 2003 12:56 IST
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Sony Entertainment Television has scored yet another coup over its rivals by bagging the cable and satellite rights of Devdas, the Oscar nominated Bollywood blockbuster, for an estimated Rs 12 crore (Rs 120 million).

The rights of Devdas were as yet unsold since the ask rate by the producer of the movie, Bharat Shah, was around Rs 15 crore (Rs 150 million), which none of the television channels were willing to cough up.

Rajat Jain, executive director, MAX, while declining to divulge the exact amount at which the rights were acquired, said, "We were keen on acquiring Devdas which is the most lavish movie ever made in the history of Indian cinema -- the film was made with a budget of over Rs 50 crore (Rs 500 million). With this acquisition, we have three of the biggest blockbusters of recent times Lagaan and Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham being the other two."

Infact, the Sony Network has also bagged the rights to four other movies which include Aap Mujhe Ache Lagne Lage, Yeh hai Jalwa, Kabhi Pyar Na Ho Jaye and the critically acclaimed Mr and Mrs Iyer.

Devdas is scheduled to to aired on television after the World Cup, since Sony already has an action-packed month-and-a-half on its channels due to the forthcoming ICC World Cup, for which its has the exclusive cable and satellite rights for the Indian sub-continent.

"SET though would continue its relentless pace of acquiring the biggest and the best in entertainment and would continue to maintain its leadership position as far as the movies and entertainment channels are concerned," said Jain.

Interestingly, SET India, unlike its rival Zee Telefilms, has adopted an aggressive strategy in picking hit movies such as Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham and Lagaan, while Zee has focused more on picking up movies which have not done too well at the box office but which nevertheless according to them hold potential on the cable.

Sony's decision to pursue this strategy of acquiring blockbusters could be due to the fact that the channel was extremely successful in roping in sponsors and advertisers for the two earlier blockbusters, Lagaan and Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham, as well as due to the encouraging ratings that it got in terms of TRPs.

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Savio G Pinto in Mumbai