By Subhash K Jha
MUMBAI: After Salman Khan’s reported 500-crore deal stories, it’s now Ajay Devgn’s 400-crore rupee deal with Star India that is being talked about.
And there is unlikely to be too many other actors joining this elite club, as only superstars with family-oriented images command the kind of clout required to justify the kind of fee Salman and Devgn are apparently getting to provide content exclusively to Star India.
When contacted, Sanjay Gupta, the COO of Star India, dismissed the 400-rupee deal as unlikely.
Gupta said, “It is true that after Salman Khan we’ve cut a deal with Ajay Devgn. But the sum being quoted in the media is highly speculative. We don’t give away our figures, so we don’t know where these figures come from. To throw such staggering amounts around may not hurt the star’s equity. But it damages our company because other actors from the entertainment industry use those escalated figures as benchmarks for negotiations.”
He added, “The earlier benchmark for a superstar’s success was the 100-crore run at the box office. Now it’s a 400-500 crore deal with Star India.”
Shedding light on the deal with Devgn, Gupta said, “The deal is similar to the one with Salman wherein for an agreed price we get the films of Ajay Devgn. We have a 3-year deal with Ajay for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016 during which time we get telecast rights of all his films. However this cannot be a trend for the simple reason that we do not have too many stars with the clout of Salman Khan and Ajay Devgn. But again I repeat, the size and scale of the numbers being quoted are not correct.”
Gupta feels these mammoth television deals would be restricted to a handful of top-notch stars. “Film stars have always been aspirational, nothing new about that. What has changed is the reach and impact of television. TV is the new cinema-hall. A lot of stars are attracted to television in a big way. For a screening of a big blockbuster on television we get 12-15 crore people watching on its television premiere. Hence the deals with Salman and Ajay.”
Gupta reveals that a lot of film actors are exploring the television medium these days. “Every major star today whether it’s Shahrukh Khan or Aamir Khan is looking at television. While Aamir is coming back with another season of Satyamev Jayate, we’vre also got Sanjay Leela Bhansali on board to produce Saraswatichandra. Viewers would see a lot of talent crossing over from both ends of cinema and television.Television stars like Ayushmann Khurana and Sushant Singh Rajput are breaking into cinema.There is no stigma attached to the home viewing medium.”
Adds Gupta, “At the moment we are not looking at any other superstar. Like Salman, Ajay has a mass connectivity. He is equally successful in comedy action and family drama. You can go to the largest city or the smallest city, Ajay is popular across the country.”