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Tuesday, 28 November 2006 04:24

Bollywood comes to the net

For the first time in India and probably world over, a potential box office hit is released – simultaneously on the Net and in cinema theatres on the same day.

And, within a week of its launch, there have been a million video downloads of this movie, Vivah (which means marriage in Hindi) giving 32-year-old Rajjat Barjatya, CEO of Rajshri Media, the digital media and entertainment arm of the one of India’s leading production houses, every reason to smile.

His site for Indian video content, www.rajshri.com has created a new genre of entertainment through a simultaneous premiere and online and in traditional theatres. More importantly it has become an instant hit with viewers abroad where for $10 you can download the movie and store it on your PC for 72 hours.

After 72 hours, the file disintegrates and if you need to watch it all over again, you shell out another $10 for another 72-hour window.

“By releasing a new movie on the Internet, we are creating an entirely new set of consumers. This is targeted especially for those who do not have access to an Indian cinema near them. We recognize the fact that the Internet cannot replicate the experience of watching a movie in a movie theatre but are proud that “Vivah” is the first of a legitimate multi-platform releases of Indian movies,” Barjatya says.

About 25 million non-resident Indians, persons of Indian origin, students and professionals live outside India and follow Indian entertainment closely on a regular basis, connecting with their homeland primarily through Indian movies and music.

There are also 25 million non-Indians from places like South East Asia, large parts of Australia, Africa and Russia who like Indian entertainment globally. This is a large but fragmented audience, which is difficult to reach through the traditional 35 mm cinema route and as a result piracy fills the gap between demand and supply. But this is the first legitimate movie site with free downloadable movies, as of now.

“As of today, all the content except for Vivah is free. Our business model is through advertising as well as this model of a 72-hour download of new movies. It is called a “download to rent” model where the movie will be copy protected and cannot be pirated. We use Windows DRM (digital rights management) software, developed by Microsoft, which is nearly 100 per cent foolproof,” he explained.

The site is aimed primarily at the non resident Indian community. “Indian movie goers are not our primary target, since many don’t have a high speed broadband connection at homes.”

The parent production house has produced more than 75 films of which many have been box office hits. “For us to adopt this model is natural – we own the rights of these movies, have been in the distribution business too and more important, we have a very competent content creation team in-house, supported by infrastructure like shooting floors, recording theatres and editing suites. We plan to start creating original content for distribution via the Internet and mobile networks.” Barjatya added.

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