Disney India, which owns UTV Motion Pictures, one of the top film studios in the country, is going to focus on itsHollywood films distribution and television and licensing and merchandising businesses effectively pulling the plug on itsHindi film production business, three peoplewith the direct knowledge of the development told ET.
Siddharth Roy Kapur, the managing director, will bid adieu once his contract gets over by January. He had taken up the position on January 1, 2014. “It is unfortunate that Disney has decided to pull the plug on the Hindi film production business, which UTV was known and respected for. But in the current scenario, it is unviable and loss making. I hope we will revive this business in the future,” a highly placed source in the company told ET. He added that an official announcement should be made on September 9 in this regard. “Kapur and The Walt Disney Company have agreed not to renew the contract and the search for the new head for its India business is currently underway,” he added.
Another source in the company added that while many names are floating in media on the likely successor to Kapur, Abhishek Maheshwari –who currently heads consumer products, corporate strategy and business development –is most likely to get the role. “It does make business sense (closing film business), but there has been a huge sentimental value attached to the UTV brand, which Ronnie (Screwvala) created two decades ago.
This is end of his legacy,” said a film producer close to both Kapur and Screwvala. In fact, media was abuzz with rumours that Kapur might be joining his old boss and friend Screwvala, who started UTV Motion Pictures and sold it to Disney in 2012. Incidentally, Screwvala is also planning to get back into the film production business with his new company RSVP, which he underplays as “passion project.”
“I am totally immersed in Up-Grad, our Sports initiatives, my PE/VC companies and our not-for-profit Swades Foundation. RSVP is something I am looking at as a passion project and nothing more,” Screwvala said when contacted. When asked about media reports suggesting that Kapur will partner with him, Karan Johar and distributor Anil Thadani to form a company, Screwvala added, “I have just read in media, and NO Sid (Kapur) is not looking at joining RSVP, now or ever in the future.
Karan (Johar) and I have not discussed anything to do with movies in five years and I have not met Anil (Thadani) in more than half a decade. So there is absolutely no discussion of Karan or Anil and me coming together to do anything.” Mails sent to Disney India and repeated calls and text messages made to Kapur remained unanswered.