Concept to can: luring Hollywood to Hyderabad
Hyderabad: Three decades after his father, legendary Telugu actor Akkineni Nageswara Rao, started the Telugu film industry`s migration from Madras (now Chennai) to Hyderabad, his actor son Akkineni Nagarjuna has embarked on an ambitious plan to attract Bollywood and Hollywood to "world-class production facilities" in this southern metropolis that has grown into another destination for technology companies.
By setting up integrated film shooting floors and production facility at his Annapurna Studios, located in upscale Banjara Hills, he is providing the right ambience for top film production houses of Indian and the international cinema. He has now added five state-of-the-art, climate-controlled floors with an investment of Rs.100 crore (Rs. 1 billion/20 mn USD)) and it is already said to be receiving enquiries from Hollywood.
To be formally thrown open for movie production soon, the studio offers a one-stop solution for a filmmaker. One can step in with the concept and go out with the can (the end product), Nagarjuna, managing director of the Annapurna Studios, told select journalists.
Known for his entrepreneurship, the 52-year-old, who has vast experience in the film world, wants to raise the standards of the studio to an international level.
Acknowledging that technical standards of filmmaking in India are not at par with Hollywood, he is launching a project to train the manpower.
"We want to start a month-long training for the crew to make them ready before Hollywood comes here," said Nagarjuna, who launched the International School of Film and Media here last year.
He believes India can be an outsource hub for film production, on the lines of the information technology (IT) industry.
"They look at India as less expensive to make films. India being the highest film producing country has all the talent and infrastructure," said the actor, pointing out that India also offers artists at low cost and studios on low rentals.
The newly built studios, which were added to the five floors already existing on the 22-acre area, are equipped with digital interface, state-of-the-art editing suits, dubbing, animation, computer graphics and colour correction facilities.
It will soon be adding background recording rooms.
Instead of shootings at multiple locations, editing the shots at another location and giving the background music at yet another place, filmmakers can now do all of these at one place, explained Nagarjuna.
He said with the available broadband facility, the scenes shots here can be uplinked for editing in any country.
Producers of "Bombay Dreams", a stage show which is now being made into a film with Indian stars, have already shown interest to shoot at Annapurna Studios.
Through such associations, Nagarjuna, who is famous for films like "Geethanjali", "Siva" and "Criminal", hopes to achieve Rs.45-50 crore turnover by 2013.
"If you get one or two contracts with Hollywood studios then you reach it before you know," said a confident Nagarjuna.
As outdoor shooting is becoming more difficult, production houses are increasingly feeling the need for integrated facilities, and floors are coming back to fashion once again.
Nagarjuna`s dream is to create such an infrastructure that the producers do not have to step out for any shoot. He cited Hollywood film "300", which was completely shot in three floors and the shoot also included an ocean scene.
As the first trial of the new facility, Nagarjuna`s home production "Rajanna" was partly shot at the new air-conditioned studio.
Nagarjuna`s first target for the studio is Bollywood.
"Hyderabad promises to be less expensive than Mumbai in terms of accommodation and transportation. They (Bollywood) can also save a lot of time in travel. Only the lead actors and the main crew have to come as everything else is available.
"All junior artists and low-level staff live in Krishna Nagar close to the studio. Others associated with the industry live in Film Nagar, a five-minute drive to Annapurna," he said.