Balaji Motion Pictures restructures; Thakur to replace Sippy

MUMBAI: In a major restructuring exercise taking place at Balaji Motion Pictures, film industry veteran Ramesh Sippy has stepped down as the company’s CEO.

Sources inform that UTV Television COO Ajit Thakur will replace Sippy as CEO and will join office on 1 January, 2009. When contacted by Businessofcinema.com Thakur refused to comment on the development.

Thakur will report to Balaji Telefilms group CEO Punnet Kinra, who overseas the television as well as motion pictures business. If sources are to be believed, Kinra who joined from Pricewaterhousecoopers in mid-October, is streamlining portfolios of people at the company.

Additionally, the company has also decided to trim the division as a result of which, three senior employees namely Nandu Ahuja (COO distribution), Vimal Doshi (regional manager -West) and Manohar Pandya (executive producer) will serve their last day on 31 December, 2008 at Balaji Motion Pictures.

Sources inform Businessofcinema.com that Balaji Motion Pictures is on the lookout for professionals on the film distribution front.

Sippy will continue to serve at Balaji in the capacity of a consultant. "Yes I have stepped down as the CEO and will continue in the capacity of a consultant at Balaji," he says.

Citing the reason for him stepping down, Sippy adds, "Balaji needed a full time CEO and I was unable to commit more than three days of work in a week, due to my film distribution business under Raksha Enterprise."

On the other hand, all co-productions deals for movies, which were signed but did not go on floors, have been called off. No new movie of Balaji Motion Pictures will go on floors until April next year.

Sippy says, "In order to cut costs and division size, three employees have been asked to leave Balaji Motion Pictures."

He further adds, "The movies, which were a part of co-production with other companies and are already underway will stay put, but all other co-productions have been shelved. Acquisition too is becoming a tougher play by the day due to the non viable costs of projects."

However, sources say that Balaji will be open to acquiring films for distribution, which seem financially viable.

On the films front, Balaji Motion Pictures has co-production deals with T-Series and Suniel Shetty’s Popcorn Entertainment. A nine film co-production deal with Sanjay Dutt Productions was called off recently.

At the time of filing this report, Balaji Telefilms creative director Ekta Kapoor remained unavailable for comment despite repeated attempts.

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