EXCLUSIVE: Russian director and producer Timur Bekmambetov, whose creation of the innovative Screenlife format has spawned hit movies such as Profile and Unfriended, is setting his sights on India by striking a partnership with local players Graphic India and Reliance Entertainment.
Bekmambetov and Graphic India founder Sharad Devarajan will team to develop a slate of original local-language films leveraging the Screenlife genre in India. The deal will commence with three films from up-and-coming Indian filmmakers, the first of which is aiming to go into production early next year.
Devarajan’s Graphic India is the company behind numerous Indian superhero IPs, spawning film and TV adaptations as well as a series of short motion comics which have been hugely successful on TikTok India. Devarajan is also the creator of Baahubali: The Lost Legends, the long-running web TV animated series which is part of the hugely successful Baahubali franchise.
Reliance Entertainment is the media and entertainment arm of Reliance Group and works in both Bollywood and Hollywood. The company partnered with Steven Spielberg to form DreamWorks Studios and later Amblin Partners, and now has credits including Green Book and 1917.
Bekmambetov’s Screenlife format has seen Unfriended gross $65M globally, off a $1M budget, and Searching take more than $75M. In the U.S. he has a five-picture deal with Universal. As we previously revealed, he is also looking to shoot the world’s first vertical format blockbuster.
This year, Bekmambetov has continued to develop and produce throughout the pandemic, with a Screenlife adaptation of Romeo & Juliet, R#J, set to premiere at Sundance, as well as a sequel to Searching. He also founded tech startup Screenlife Limited, which is partnered with Microsoft and is developing products and services powered by artificial intelligence and neural networks to boost mainstream production of Screenlife content
“Screenlife films are universally relatable to people around the world, and audiences intuitively understand this storytelling language, because it’s how we live. I believe our devices can reveal more about a person than they would ever say out loud, because we never lie to our screens,” said Bekmambetov.
“India is one of the world’s leading fastest-growing entertainment economies. We are delighted to partner with Timur and Sharad to bring Screenlife, a new digital onscreen filmmaking language, to India and provide a new and powerful platform to showcase talent of Indian writers and directors,” commented Shibasish Sarkar, Group CEO, Reliance Entertainment.
“I have been fortunate to learn so much from Timur over the past few years, and his unbounded creativity and disruptive thinking is an inspiration. At Graphic India, we strive to push the boundaries of storytelling with new genres and experiences, and this wonderful partnership with Reliance Entertainment will give us an amazing opportunity to showcase some of India’s pioneering filmmakers and creators,” added Devarajan.