Utpal Borpujari

June 11, 2009

Audio movies for film-crazy Indians on the move

By Utpal Borpujari

You are on the move, and suddenly crave to hear the favourite Gabbar Singh dialogue “Kitney Aadmi The?” from the all-time classic Sholay.

What do you do? Run home to scour your DVD collection? No, you just take your mobile phone out, and listen to not only this dialogue but all the immortal dialogues from the Ramesh Sippy film.

Dialogues from famous films like this one are now possible to listen to on mobile phones, thanks to the launch of one-hour “audio films” by leading production house UTV.

UTV New Media Ltd, the digital arm of UTV Software Communications, has launched this format, which harks back to the days of popular audio version of Hindi films on All India Radio before the advent of television, with four films in four languages.

Apart from Sholay, the other films which are available right now in this format are Madhur Bhandarkar’s Fashion, Mani Ratnam’s Tamil Dalapathi starring Rajanikanth and Mammootty, Kanadda blockbuster Prem Loka and Telugu hit Gang Leader. Among the films soon to be available in this format is the superhit Roja.

“This new format has been launched after our research showed that many people would like to go through the audio versions of their favourite films while on the move,” UTV New Media CEO T N Prabhu told Deccan Herald. The company has already tied up with most of the mobile operators to take the product to the people.

Prabhu, pointing out that similar audio movies have been popular with AIR and BBC, said, “We are abridging popular movies into an hour, and we believe that this can be a popular tool for entertainment on the move in Tier-2 & 3 cities and towns.”

The service does not come cheap, as most mobile service operators charge Rs six per minute of usage for such services, but nonetheless, Prabhu believes it would be a successful business model.

“People often want quick references to their favourite movies, and this is a sure way to get it. Audio downloads have already become the major source or revenue for mobile phone companies, and this service can add to the excitement,” Prabhu said.

Right now the movies being sources for the service come from UTV’s own library as well as Lahri in Southern India and Universal Music. “We will subsequently add other languages too,” said Prabhu.

In a country full of film-crazy people, this could be one surefire business model for all involved.

(Published in Deccan Herald, www.deccanherald.com, www.deccanheraldepaper.com, 11-06-2009)



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