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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. He is also an acting and dialogue coach. 



New Year’s Special: Distributor Anil Thadani in an exclusive interview with Siraj Syed, Part II

New Year’s Special: Distributor Anil Thadani in an exclusive interview with Siraj Syed, Part II

Siraj Syed: Any films that you are currently releasing in partnership with producers?

Anil: I have done many films like this.

Siraj: Do you tie up with distributors to jointly release films?

Anil: No. I usually get solo world rights, which include both India and overseas rights.

Siraj: Have you been involved with some films right from the launch till the release?

Anil: Most of the Excel Entertainment Films. I have been involved from the launch till the release, right from their first film, Dil Chahta Hai. In fact, I have often been present when the scripts were being narrated.

Siraj: Was Yeh Dillagi (1994) your first film as distributor?

Anil: That is correct.

Siraj: Okay. Now I am going to read to you a list of films and you have to tell me which of these really surprised you with their box-office performance. Is that fine?

Anil: Sure. No problem.

Siraj: Dirty Picture, Student of the Year, Fukrey, Ek Villain, Bahubali, KGF 1, Bhool Bhulaiya 2, KGF 2, Pushpa: The Rise, Anek, Agneepath, Gully Boy.

Anil: Long list. Anyway, here goes. The films that surprised me were Bahubali 1, KGF 1 and Bhool Bhulaiya 2. Till then, the biggest collection of a Telugu film dubbed in Hindi was slightly less than Rs. 30 crores. Bahubali 1 went on to cross the Rs. 100 crore benchmark. That surprised me. KGF…the highest grossing Kannada dubbed film did business worth 2-3 crores in the Hindi speaking belt. And then, KGF 1 also….KGF 2 went on to do business worth 45 crores. The rest of the films…I expected them to be hits, and they did business in the expected range. Coming to Bhool Bhulaiya 2, in the most difficult times, and when I reflect now, after Covid, that’s been a grosser which no other Hindi film, besides Brahmastra, has been able to cross. When all the actors, post-Covid, have been giving their lowest ever figures, or some, at least, some of their lowest ever figures, this was the only film that took off, and Kartik has given his highest number ever. These businesses have surprised me.

Siraj: You have mentioned in an interview that you went out of your way to acquire Aashiqui 2, Dirty Picture and Ek Villain. Why?

Anil: When I saw the Dirty Picture Trailer, I was fascinated, and pitched for the film, and I got it. In the case of Aashiqui 2, I saw the picture, loved it and had to get it. Even Ek Villain, I loved the whole set-up, and got associated with it. Yes, indeed, these are the three films that I went out of the way to acquire.

Siraj: Talking of the last two months (October, November 2022), which are the films that have done the best business for you?

Anil: No film. Sorry, I have just done Kantara (Kannada, dubbed in Hindi), and the business it is doing has really surprised me. It’s more than what A-lister films are doing in North India (Hindi-speaking belt). Sometimes you get this feeling…Pushpa, even before the trailer was released, I wanted to do it. So, that did not surprise me with the business, but Kantara did.

Siraj: Right. Do you also buy satellite and OTT rights?

Anil: I don’t buy them… that will be like trading, but I associate with persons who buy these rights. Films that I present, I have all the rights, and I negotiate with the persons dealing in satellite and OTT rights for the producers.

Siraj: How much can a producer expect from satellite and OTT rights?

Anil: A major chunk of the cost can be recovered from these rights. For a big film, the amount can be between Rs. 200 and 300 crores, if you sell rights in multiple languages.

Siraj: What other rights does a producer sell?

Anil: Music.

Siraj: Of course. But how is music marketed these days, with no physical product sold?

Anil: Online, as well as copyright. When anybody performs the songs, he/she is expected to pay a royalty to the producer or the rights holder.

Siraj: Which is the highest grossing film that you have distributed so far?

Anil: Bahubali 2. We crossed Rs. 500 crore in the North.

(Await the third and concluding part)

(This interview was possible thanks to the charming, ever-helpful, Raveena Tandon, Mrs. Anil Thadani)

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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