India's first serial for mobiles next month

Thursday, 27 December 2007, 08:00 Hrs
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New Delhi: Digital technology has changed the economics of India's 440 billion ($11 billion) entertainment industry and entrepreneur Rajat Barjatya, the scion of one of Bollywood's biggest film banners, is set to tap it in a big way.

Rajat, the younger brother of Sooraj Barjatya who owns Rajshri Productions, is coming up with the first ever serial for mobile phone users in India.

"I hate to use the term first. I would rather say that we are among the first to make a serious attempt at doing this. We have produced a 90 episode series, with three minutes per episode, and it is in the humour genre," Rajat told IANS in an interview here.

Rajat launched his company Rajshri Media last year that specialises in producing content for new media like Internet, mobile phones and ipods.

The serial for cell phones is Rajat's second breakthrough in the last 13 months, thanks to digital technology. His first endeavour was the release of Rajshri's "Vivah" simultaneously in theatres and online on its website.

"We are going to put the serial out towards the end of January. Its very desi, compelling and one of its kind and I think people are going to love it," he added.

Mobile telephone users are currently estimated at close to 220 million. After Internet penetration, which is pegged at 46 million, with an active base of over 32 million in India, Rajat has plans of exploiting the mobile phone medium now.

Rajat said: "We are looking at new delivery platforms which could be online delivery, delivery via telecom, delivery via IPTV networks. Essentially, we believe that we need to create content for new entertainment devices, which are proliferating and entertaining audiences.

"Earlier there was cinema and TV. Today, PC, mobile phones and devices like ipod are personal entertainment touch points to the audience. So we are looking at these third, fourth and fifth screens (which is PC, mobile and ipod)."

"For smaller screens, you need a different way of thinking - you have to conceive, develop and produce content in a different way. Just the way TV content is developed, conceived and produced differently than cinema."

When Rajat released "Vivah" online, for the first few days he allowed surfers to download the film for free and later it was sold at 400 ($10) per download. Nine months later, it had sold 6,500 downloads, according to an Ernst & Young report.

When asked about the budget for his new venture, Rajat refused to give any details.

However, he spoke enthusiastically about his Internet invasion and said: "After 'Vivah' we have released a dozen films of UTV, Pritish Nandy Communications and Shemaroo like 'Hattrick', 'Life In A Metro', 'Bow Barracks Forever', 'Blue Umbrella' and 'Dhamaal. It's all revenue share."

How does he go about it?

"Essentially, we sign an agreement with the producer, we digitise the movie, upload it on our servers in the US and make it available on the Internet at a certain price. If we have sufficient time on hand, we upload it with subtitles in different Indian and foreign languages.

"Rajshri Media is a very potent medium combination of content and technology and that's why we have done well in the last 13 months. We are providing a complimentary and alternative revenue stream to film producers."

Rajat predicts a proliferating future for digitised content and says in the long run it will bust piracy as well.

"My feeling is that every single film going forward will be released on the Internet on day one and it makes complete sense. You are able to reach a new audience through the Internet, which you can't reach otherwise. Only pirated copies fill this gap. So we are doing it at the expense of pirates and not at the expense of any other legal distribution platform."

His company is reaching out to unexplored zones, thanks to the Internet.

"We have a huge data base of people who don't have our content and come to our website. We reach out to them regularly. And why only Rajshri films, I will reach out to them for UTV films and other filmmakers too."

The dynamic entrepreneur says he has no intention of donning the director's cap because it is not his cup of tea.

"I'm not a director. I want to direct my company to greater heights. I am on the marketing and business side of the entertainment. My elder brother Sooraj is the creative head of the company."
Source: IANS
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