Mumbai: In a significant pact, Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Entertainment on Sunday announced that its film production and distribution business in India will partner Phantom Films, a company formed by four leading and young creative minds - Anurag Kashyap, Vikas Bahl, Vikramaditya Motwane and Madhu Mantena.
The company said this will be a 50:50 joint venture to create a powerful new force in Indian cinema.
"The combination of Reliance and Phantom Films plans to develop and produce at least five-six films every year, apart from distribution of films in India and overseas, and syndication of rights from the over 175 films strong library," a Reliance statement said.
The proposed combination will leverage the capabilities of the Phantom team, while enjoying access to the domestic and international sales and distribution infrastructure of Reliance Entertainment.
Such an access will include the wide reach of IM Global, a Reliance Entertainment company based in Los Angeles, with operations in North America, Britain and Europe, Asia - Pacific, China, Latin America, etc.
Phantom Films can also leverage the recently announced Reliance MediaWorks-Prime Focus combination in digital, visual and special effects, pre- and post-production and physical studio, with facilities in Mumbai, London, Los Angeles and Vancouver -- including Double Negative, the Britain-based digital and visual effects powerhouse, a two time Academy Awards winner for its work in "Inception" and "Interstellar".
Amitabh Jhunjhunwala, group managing director, Reliance Group, said: "This partnership is in line with our evolving strategy in the media and entertainment business, of aligning with like-minded people who are trailblazers in their own field, and playing the role of supportive investors on our part."
Vikas Bahl said: "This not only gives us partnership with people we look up to and want to learn from, it opens up our world of learning and access to people and infrastructure which was way beyond our imagination."
Anurag Kashyap said: "This deal opens up our windows to international opportunities and talent. We hope to optimise on this opportunity and take Indian cinema international, and also attract excellent talent into the country."
Reliance Entertainment has produced, distributed and released more than 170 films in multiple Indian languages, including successful commercial ones like "Singham", "Singham Returns", "Bodyguard", "Don 2", "3 Idiots", "Singh is King", "Sarkar", "Guru" and "Attarintiki Daaredi".
The portfolio includes award winning films like "Paa", "Abohoman", "Jaatishwar" and "Shob Choritra Kalponik" (Bengali), "Kutty Shrank" (Malayalam) and "Ijjodu" (Kannada).
Internationally, Reliance Entertainment has partnered for the past over five years with producer-director Steven Spielberg in a 50:50 joint venture, Dreamworks Studios, which has produced award winning and highly successful films.
"Known for his high-concept film content, Anurag Kashyap has directed films like 'Dev D', 'Gangs of Wasseypur', 'Black Friday', 'Ugly', and 'That Girl in Yellow Boots', all of which were screened at Cannes Director's Fortnight," the Reliance statement said.
Vikas Bahl has worked on films like "No One Killed Jessica", "Aamir" and "Welcome to Sajjanpur". His "Chillar Party" won the National Award in Best Children Film and Best Screenplay.
In 2014, he directed "Queen" at Phantom Films, which not only earned him numerous prestigious best director awards, but also enjoyed commercial success in 2014.
A long time assistant to Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Vikramaditya Motwane's first film "Udaan" was selected to compete in the "Uncertain Regard" category at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, and won seven Filmfare Awards. His last film "Lootera" produced by Phantom Films also received substantial critical acclaim.
Madhu Mantena debuted as a film producer with "Ghajini", starring Aamir Khan, India's first 100 crore box office film. He has also co-founded CAA Kwan, a talent management company, in partnership with leading talent agency, CAA of the US, and Offroad Films, an ad film production company.
Phantom Films has an impressive slate of six films releasing over the next 12 months, including "Bombay Velvet" starring Ranbir Kapoor, "NH 10" with Anushka Sharma, "Shandar" with Shahid Kapoor and Alia Bhatt, "Udta Punjab" with Shahid Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor and Alia Bhatt, "Hunterr" and "Ghoomketu".