Shah Rukh Khan (SRK) is busy scouring for good films. His company, Red Chillies Entertainment which has produced films like Paheli, Main Hoon Na and Ra.One is looking at buying the copyright of films to add to its library which already has a collection of 18 films. Interestingly, Shah Rukh Khan's company is not only interested in buying some of his films which includes the copyright of his 1996 movie Chaahat that was produced by Robin Bhatt, but he has also bought the rights of two Sunny Deol starrers Arjun and Damini.
“It is true Shah Rukh Khan is interested in acquiring content which will include his TV shows and films. The decision, however, is made by Red Chillies Entertainment,” said a source close to the actor.
There could be several reasons why an actor is interested in buying the rights of films and having an exclusive right over the use of his creation. Owning the copyright, would mean he has the right to sell the satellite rights of the film to air it on television, for producing DVDs and videos, showcasing the film at retrospectives and film festivals, selling clippings, remaking the film or even making a sequel to it etc.
Trade analyst Amod Mehra says that at times buying the right to films could have to do with a feeling of contentment and satisfaction of owning a good library. “Actually Shah Rukh Khan is an exception rather than the rule. Every actor cannot afford to buy the rights of his films and keep them in his library. Besides using a film creatively or for business purposes an actor may even buy the rights of a film and if it is not a good product and one that he does not want to be aired on TV or elsewhere.”
Ramesh Taurani of Tips Industries whose company has produced several films, says that a producer would only sell the rights of a film he has produced, if he is in dire need of money. “Selling the rights of their films is not a new thing. Earlier, too there have been producers who have sold the rights of their films, not only to actors but other people as well. It generally happens when they are in financial trouble,” said Taurani adding that he has retained the rights of all the films that he has produced and would not really like to sell them to anyone.
Concedes trade analyst Vinod Mirani. “Why would a production house, for example, Yashraj Films sell the rights of a film it has produced to their actors? Why wouldn’t they use the content for their own benefit?” questions Mirani.
But now with most top actors collaborating with several big studios like Disney UTV, Fox Star, Viacom as co-producers for their films, actors automatically have certain rights to their films. “Both the actor and the studio when co-producing a film may share 50 per cent each of the IP rights with both having a right over the use of the film. But contracts may vary in terms of rights. Sometimes, a studio that is co-producing a film, may retain the exclusive satellite rights or video rights. At times a production house may keep all the rights in spite of co-producing a film with a studio,” points out a person associated with a major studio. So, while the trend is still in its infancy, it could pick up with actors turning producers.