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Will ‘Padmavati’ Bring a New Arrangement Among Bollywood Studios?

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Padmavati’ seems to be ushering in a new era of collaboration between studios.

Updated
Entertainment
3 min read
Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone in <i>Bajirao Mastani.&nbsp;</i>

The budget of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s next magnum opus Padmavati is reportedly Rs 170 crore. Now that’s a lot of money for a single producer to invest in a period costume drama, perhaps that’s why Bhansali had got two studios involved to back his dream movie.

But as tradition goes in Bollywood, soon after the debacle of Mohenjo Daro (another period film), one set of potential producers of Padmavati reportedly got cold feet and backed out of the project.

I say potential producer here because nothing had been officially announced yet. According to early reports, in a first of sorts in Bollywood, two individual studios – Eros International and Viacom18 were to come together to produce Bhansali’s project because its budget had reached epic proportions. The scale of the film coupled with the team’s fee, which includes Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, Shahid Kapoor and Bhansali himself had resulted in the cost of the film having shot through the roof.

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Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone show Sanjay Leela Bhansali some love (Photo: Yogen Shah)
Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone show Sanjay Leela Bhansali some love (Photo: Yogen Shah)

Bhansali can today demand the reported sum of Rs 170 crore and get it because his last release Bajirao Mastani had earned approximately Rs 140 crore (net) for its producers.

Given the fact that three of Bollywood’s biggest actors are in the newly announced film – Deepika (riding on the success of Piku, Bajirao Mastani, Happy New Year), Ranveer (riding on the success of Bajirao Mastani, Dil Dhadakne Do), Shahid (riding on the success of Udta Punjab) and it’s helmed by Bhansali (riding on the success of Bajirao Mastani, Ram-Leela) – studios would be falling over each other to clinch the deal with Bhansali.

<i>Bajirao Mastani</i> stars, Deepika and Ranveer give big grins as they pose for paparazzi. (Photo: Yogen Shah)
Bajirao Mastani stars, Deepika and Ranveer give big grins as they pose for paparazzi. (Photo: Yogen Shah)

Eros’ reported backing out of the Padmavati project is surprising, but then the studio had also walked out of co-producing Ajay Devgn’s Shivaay after it went over budget. Perhaps, the studio is tightening its belt, cautiously erring on the side of reason and no longer allowing stars and the scale of a project to become the deciding factor in green-lighting scripts.

IF Eros and Viacom18 were to come together to produce Bhansali’s new film, it would have been historic. Though it would have remained to be seen how the studios involved would have worked out a smooth revenue sharing model, the collaboration would have been an unprecedented positive move in Bollywood.

However, the news of Viacom18 now partnering with Reliance Jio to produce Padmavati, won’t be much of a milestone, because Viacom18 is a 50/50 joint venture between Viacom and the Network18 group, which is owned by Reliance Industries which owns Reliance Jio as well.

What’s surprising in all this is that despite all the news of studios shutting down and it being a bad year for Bollywood, Padmavati could well sail into production with a whopping Rs 170 crore budget. But I guess it’s this passion and conviction which keeps intangible expressions like art and creativity going. But god forbid, if Padmavati loses its battle at the box-office, it’ll be well to remember Ronnie Screwvala’s wise words:

If you want to make a passion project - pay for it yourself.
Ronnie Screwvala (The Quint)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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