King of Bollywood

Kishore Lulla is one of those people who self confi dence walks into the room before the man himself. This is not surprising as the managing director of Eros International controls 70 per cent of the Bollywood overseas market and clearly has something to be confi dent about.  Of all the success stories of modern India the inexorable rise of Indian film has been extraordinary. While always sustaining a huge market, Indian fi lm was virtually unknown outside the subcontinent a decade ago. Today it is a money spinner generating hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Eros International was established by Arjan Lulla in India, 1977. Kishore, his son, took over after completing his law degree from the Government Law College, Mumbai and co-founded Eros UK in London in 1988. Kishore says “During 1980s video boom in India when the theatres were closing down and the market was volatile; I had an Idea that we should exploit this opportunity and go global. The company was incorporated in the Isle of Man and operates in over 50 countries with worldwide offi ces in India, UK, USA, Dubai, Australia and Fiji.” London-based Kishore, who also cofounded the digital Bollywood movie channel B4U, added, “The idea is basically to control the full value chain from the production of a fi lm till it releases in the theatres. We also have plans to go into digital cinema.” Today, Eros International plc is one of the largest content owners and international distributors of Bollywood media. Eros International plc is a global integrated media and entertainment company, in the Bollywood arena. Being vertically integrated means that Eros is not only a production house but it also distributes and fi nances fi lms across formats globally via cinemas, home entertainment, television formats and new media. It also has a valuable Film Library containing more than 1,300 titles and contains in excess of 5,000 music videos, making it one of the largest content owners in the business. He says “We are no longer just a distribution company; we are on the model of a studio. We are now going into fi lm fi nance and production -- just like MGM or Fox or Paramount. Our target audience is not only the Indian population but along with the NRI population the non Indian population too.” He explains “For example, in the last fi ve years we have started dubbing Bollywood movies in various local languages like Thai, French, and Russian.” “We know the ins and outs of the fi lm industry. We have been fi nancing fi lms for the last 20 years. This project will be a budget-making exercise -- make the movies under this budget, include these aspects so distributors don’t lose money. Obviously, we will retain the overseas rights, which are the major source of revenue for the fi lm industry anyway,” he adds. Kishore Lulla says “There is a global India Fever going on. Right now India is a hot commodity globally in terms of software, telecommunication, fashion, food and this is dramatically increasing the interest in Indian culture at an International level. So, what better way of learning about Indian culture than watching Indian movies which are enriched with our culture, family values, ethics and most of all love?”

 He says “Ten years ago, we did not know how to package our fi lms for the International audience as well as we did not have the fi nancial muscle but in the last three years it has changed. Today there are three kind of Bollywood movies, fi rst the “masala” or commercial movies like Om Shanti Om, second the art movies like Monsoon Wedding and third is the cross pollination of Bollywood and Hollywood movies like Bend it like Beckham. “We will not only be investing in the regular commercial fi lms,” he continued. “But also today we are poised to leap into the crossover or cross pollination fi lms and that’s why I am currently in L.A. to do a joint venture with Sony for something which could be bigger than Bend It like Beckham. I would like to call it a “Noveau Indian Cuisine”. We have been waiting for this time for the last thirty years and today we are poised to be the pioneer in consolidating the fragmented Indian entertainment sector.” He adds “The fi rst phase of consolidation was to be a leader in global production, and distribution. In the near future we are focussing on entering into joint ventures with T.V. groups and this will depend on the partners and the strategy we decide to take.” Kishore Lula has played a signifi cant role in the launch of the UK’s fi rst 24 hour Bollywood digital satellite and pay TV channel on the BSkyB platform. Throughout his tenure he has been instrumental in evolving Eros from a fi lm distribution company into an international vertically integrated content business. He is a member of BAFTA and the Young President’s Organisation. In the end the Bollywood moghul says “I believe that the consumer has the right to choose when and how he wants to consume and we need to be prepared to cater to this need and give the customer the choice. We want to build Eros as a brand that one can trust internationally.”

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