WASHINGTON: Mera naam hai Baand James Baand. This could well be the signature line coming soon to a big screen near you.The entertainment world has been shaken and stirred by reports, now confirmed, that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), the storied American movie studio, may soon be “gone with the wind” to India.
The Lucknow-based Sahara India Parivar has made a $2 billion bid to buy the debt of the struggling Hollywood studio which has fallen on bad times, with liabilities to the tune of $4 billion. Both sides have confirmed the development to the media, but the deal it is still a work in progress and details are sketchy.
On mutual interest, discussions are on, but it is too early to comment on the issue,” MGM told the Financial Times. In India, Sahara also confirmed the interest but did not offer details. If the deal comes through, this would be the second major Indian foray into Hollywood after Anil Ambani’s Reliance Big Entertainment pumped in $825 million last July to rescue Stephen Spielberg’s Dreamworks from Paramount Pictures. Such developments have led wags to quip that India is taking over Hollywood Bric by Bric.
In fact, the Indian entertainment industry may well have anticipated MGM’s roaring lion becoming a mewing pussy cat judging by a long running Indian cough lozenge ad that parodied the beast. The great studio, which was founded in 1924, and produced such classics as the Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind, is a whimpering shadow of its former self, and is neck deep in debt. It recently received another extension on an agreement to put off interest payments on about $4 billion in debt until October 29.
The studio is co-owned by the Broccoli family, producers of the James Bond movie series. If the deal goes through, word is that Barbara Broccoli and her stepbrother Michael Wilson, who took over from the late Albert Broccoli, would receive an undisclosed equity stake in the new company.
It could also change the face and the accent of arguably the celluloid world’s most recognizable fictional character whose heroics hasn’t been able to rescue the studio that creates him for screen.In fact, the situation is so dire that early this year, EON Productions, the James Bond production company controlled by Broccoli and Wilson, said they would suspend development on the next 007 movie, 23rd in the series, which was previously scheduled for release in late 2011.
“Due to the continued uncertainty surrounding the future of MGM and the failure to close a sale of the studio, we have suspended development on Bond 23 indefinitely,” EON said then in a statement. If Sahara India Parivaar ends up sheltering MGM, James Bond or James Baand if you wish, may find a new voice and identity – Timesofindia