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Interview: Chairman and CEO, Eros International

Interview: KISHORE LULLA, Chairman & CEO,
Eros International

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‘What Hollywood did in 50
years, we will do in 10 years’

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It’s been a busy 2007 for Eros
International—the London AIM (Alternative Investment
Market) has listed the Indian media and Entertainment
Company. It released 30 films, of which ten were global
launches and has included such hits as Om Shanti Om,
Namastey London and Heyy Babyy.
However, in 2008,
Kishore Lulla, chairman & CEO, Eros International,
plans more global launches, focusing on
content-creation and consolidation, upgrading its
distribution channels across formats, and has releases
lined up until 2010. He speaks with Sudipta Datta from
London on Eros’ long-term plans for India and why the
‘Americanisation’ of the Indian entertainment space
spells good news for Bollywood. Excerpts:

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What are your areas of focus in
2008?



The focus is on
content and consolidation. We are updating our
distribution channels by integrating content across all
formats, cinema, television, home entertainment, pay TV
and new media. In the home entertainment segment, for
example, we are building up a library. We have 1,900
titles now, we are going to aggressively buy content.
In the regional and Bollywood space, we have identified
eight-10 targets—content Companies having libraries
and future productions—for acquisitions: the
acquisitions will be completed by the end of 2008.



What is the film making
model that you follow, is it leaning towards Hollywood
or Bollywood?



Well, the
Eros model is exactly like a studio model except that
we do not physically own a studio. In fact, most of the
foreign studios are getting rid of their physical
studios. Then, you can shoot anywhere in any location
across the world.



You are
paying a lot of attention to your special effects
studio.


Comment.
Oh yes.
That’s our second area of focus this year. We feel
that as the Bollywood market expands and the 400
million middle class have more spending power, they
will demand good quality entertainment. We want EyeQube
Studios to do big visual effects out of India. The
first one Alladin has already gone on the floors. We
will also release Drona, for which EyeQube is handling
the special effects. It’s a Harry Potter meets
Indiana Jones movie, if you will, but it’s an
original story.



What’s the
Eros calendar of films looking like this year?



We are going to release 20 films
this year—all will be launched globally too. Last
year, we released 30 films, but only 10 out of those
were global releases. We have 55 projects across genres
locked in for the next two-and-a-half years, which
means there are releases lined up until 2010.

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Is action also picking up on the
Eros Music front?



We will
step up activity and sign on new artists and promote
their albums.



How easy is it
now to do business in a corporatised Bollywood
framework?Has the mindset changed?



It’s a
totally relationship-driven industry where money plays
a part. No, the mindset has not changed. If we have
been successful, it’s because we have a 30-year
experience in the business. We are a corporate house
but we have a relationship with everyone in India. We
are also going to set up distribution offices across
India to bring transparency into the business.

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You have tied up with a host of
directors, haven’t you?

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Yes, we have tied up with various directors.
We are now going to create a bank of screenplays.



Where’s the growth, and
revenues—going to come from for Eros?



The Indian market is growing in a
big way. But the international dubbed Markets are
growing too. In five years, we want 50% of our revenues
to come from India and 50% from international Markets.
At the moment, this ratio is more or less 65-35
(international/India).



Give
us a perspective on Bollywood. Where is it headed in
the next 5-10 years?

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The Indian film industry
now resembles what the Hollywood movie industry was
between the 1940s and 1970s. But what Hollywood did in
50 years, we will do in 10 years. In the next five
years, a lot of multiplexes will be built, people will
spend more on entertainment, producers will spend more
on quality of films, we are going to get Americanised
and that’s a good thing for the business of
entertainment.

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Date: 23rd Jan 08

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