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India’s Zee to Focus on Internal Growth After Formally Giving Up on Merger Aspirations – Global Bulletin

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ZEE END IS NIGH

Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd., the disappointed bride in the failed engagement between Zee and Sony India, has formally ended its quest for a merger. On Tuesday, it withdrew its application before the industry regulator National Company Law Tribunal and said that it will focus instead on internal growth. Pulling the NCLT application also makes it somewhat easier for Zee to pursue its arbitration and other legal actions against Sony.

The plan to merge the two mid-size film and TV businesses was on the table for over two years, but finally (acrimoniously) collapsed in January 2024. Sony is also seeking restitution from Zee, which it says failed to live up to the agreed merger terms. Since the wedding bells stopped ringing, Zee has also announced that it will slice its workforce by 15%.

NETFLIX STARTS FILMING GUILLAUME CANET’S ‘TAKEN’-STYLE THRILLER

Guillaume Canet, whose latest directorial outing “Asterix and Obelix: The Middle Kingdom” was France’s highest grossing local film in 2023, is producing and starring in a “Taken”-style action thriller for Netflix.

Along with producing and starring in the film, Canet also penned the script with Rodolphe Lauga, in association with David Corona.

Lauga is also directing the film which marks his feature debut. Canet is producing with Jean Cottin through their banner Cabanes production; and stars opposite Stéphane Caillard, Nassim Lyes, Zita Hanrot and Alexis Manenti.

The actor-director stars as Franck Lazareff, who escaped an attempted murder and must find his wife who has been kidnapped by a mysterious group of armed men. He is subsequently caught up by his past and plunged into a state affair.

Filming kicked off on April 8 in Paris and suburbs, and will wrap on Jun 20. The film will launch exclusively on Netflix next year.

DESI CHANNEL

Viacom 18’s DesiPlay TV channel, a free ad-supported TV (FAST) channel in the general entertainment space, has begun operations in Canada on the Pluto TV platform. The channel carries a range of inspiring Indian stories, Hindi shows and blockbuster Bollywood movies. Hindi TV serials included: “Naa Aana Iss Des Laado,” “Comedy Nights With Kapil,” “Uttaran,” “Mahakaali,” “Radha Prem Ki Deewani” and “Mrs. Pammi Pyarelal.” Desi TV shows are available with English subtitles. 

“We are thrilled to announce our partnership with IndiaCast on the brand-new DesiPlay TV channel, offering an array of diverse content to Pluto TV viewers across Canada,” said Vanessa Case, VP Content, Pluto TV, Canada. “We are part of a diverse country, and our aim is to curate content that resonates with every viewer.” IndiaCast is jointly owned by TV18 & Viacom18, both of which are controlled by Reliance Industries’ Jio group.

JEONJU JOURNEY

Next month’s Jeonju International Film Festival in South Korea (May 1-10) will host a special presentation of all ten films in the so-called Walker Series, by Taiwan-based Tsai Ming-liang. Inspired by monk Xuanzang in the Chinese classic “Journey to the West,” Tsai began the collection in 2012 with “No Form” and feature actor Lee Kang-Sheng as a walker dressed in a red robe walking slowly and barefoot through different cities including Taipei, Hong Kong, Kuching, Paris, and Washington, D.C. The latest feature-length component “Abiding Nowhere,” which debuted in Berlin, will be screened as a Korean premiere. The series’ shorts, under 40 minutes each, will be grouped into clusters of three.

FOLLOWING THE SCRIPT

Banijay Asia has promoted Rajesh Chadha to COO of its scripted division. He previously served as EVP and business head of scripted. He will now spearhead the development, production, and strategic operations of the scripted division.

A media veteran with over 30 years of experience, Chadha has worked with Endemol, BBC Studios and RBNL. And spearheaded content execution of multiple seasons of award-winning streaming series “Criminal Justice,” “Out of Love,” “Rudra,” “The Night Manager” and “The Trial.” As a founder of IMRC Entertainment, he also previously produced fiction and non-fiction shows across Star Network, Sony TV, Zee TV and Colors.

DIARY DATE

India’s Junglee Pictures has announced July 5 as the theatrical release date of its thriller “Ulajh.” It stars Janhvi Kapoor alongside Gulshan Devaiah and Roshan Mathew, in a tale about the high-stakes world of the Indian Foreign Services. The film is directed by National Award-winner Sudhanshu Saria (“Loev”), and also features Adil Hussain, Rajesh Tailang, Meiyang Chang, Rajendra Gupta, and Jitendra Joshi. It was scripted by Parveez Shaikh and Saria, with dialogues by Atika Chauhan.

A first trailer can be seen here: