Religare, Vistaar launch Rs 2 bn film fund; disclose plans

MUMBAI: Religare Enterprises Ltd and Vistaar Entertainment Ventures have launched the Vistaar Religare Film Fund (VRFF).

VRFF will be India’s first regulated film fund and the AMC Vistaar Religare Capital Advisors Ltd, has filed for an approval with SEBI as a venture capital fund (VCF). The fund will, in the first round, have a corpus of approximately Rs 2 billion (Rs 200 crores) and would be close-ended in nature with a lock-in of five years.

The Vistaar Religare Film Fund will invest in film projects in India and overseas. The fund shall focus on providing new talent a platform for equality of market exploitation. The fund will focus on "The Business of Show Business" and provide opportunity for new directors, talent and writers.

Vistaar Entertainment Ventures chairman and managing director Sheetal Talwar discloses the immediate plans under this fund exclusively to Bhavna Talwar, director of Dharm will be directing one as yet untitled film, which stars Pankaj Kapur. Additionally, actor Pankaj Kapur will be directing his second film for Vistaar-Religare.

As per their claim of discovering newer talent, they have signed Johny Pinto to direct a film, untitled at the moment. Asif Ali Shaikh, another new director, will be making Shaadi Ka Joda. Says Sheetal Talwar, "The main aim of this fund is to provide long term benefits. There will be price transparency and focus on content. The talent will get the highest share of the revenue which comes in."

Vistaar Religare Film Fund will also be co-financing a project with Asian Content Centre (ACC) titled A.R.T., in which the Fund will own a stake in the project. Apart from these, Vistaar-Religare also has an international co-production under its belt.

About the budgets of these films, Talwar adds, "The definition of budgets have changed big time. So it is indeed difficult to term our films as small or medium budgets."

The fund will also setup Writer’s Craddle, which will encourage potential writers to come forward and test their skills. Talwar stresses on the lack of writers in the industry and to an extent blames the corporate system. "The corporates just focus on the stars, very little thought goes behind the writers. Like there are writers’ funds internationally, we also plan to do something on those lines."

With a strong investment committee, the key to success is the choice of strong scripts that shall be the touchstone of the funds investment strategy. The attempt will be to create a scenario that offers viewers more choice of selection and looks beyond the traditional "Star" system.

Religare Enterprises Ltd CEO and MD Sunil Godhwani said, "We have always believed in innovations and for us spotting new opportunities for creating and maximizing wealth for our investors is a constant. This Fund will be yet another step from our umbrella in that direction and it’s a strong combination of sharp, seasoned financial minds along with experienced and innovative minds from the business of entertainment and films."

Last year, Network18 and Viacom too set up a film fund – Indian Film Company (IFC). The fund was listed on London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM) and raised approximately Rs 4.50 billion (Rs 450 crores).