It pays to go colour. Consider this: the coloured version of 60s-era black and white Bollywood classic Mughal-e-Azam grossed over Rs 10 crore when it was released in 2004. The film not only recovered the estimated Rs 3 crore that went into digitally "colouring" it, but also returned a tidy profit.
Sensing a business opportunity here, several production and technology companies are now hopping onto this bandwagon and re-releasing colour prints of old Hindi and regional language hits. B.R. Films, B.R. Chopra's production house, is planning to release a coloured version of its 1957 hit Naya Daur soon.Says C. Jagan Mohan, Business Unit Head (Media Services) at Hyderabad-based Goldstone Media, which is digitally restoring and colouring 1960s hits Satya Harishchandra (Kannada), Sri Krishna Arjuna Yudham (Telugu) and Hum Dono (Hindi): "The colourisation market in India is expected to be around Rs 150 crore over the next three years." The Kannada movie is expected to be ready by November, Hum Dono, a Dev Anand-Sadhana starrer, will be out by December this year, and the Telugu movie by March 2008.
The colourisation of black and white classics can also become a high profile niche in the Great Indian Outsourcing Story. Technical experts in this field command salaries of more than $100,000 (Rs 41 lakh ) per annum in the us; in India, they come for as little as Rs 2.5 lakh per annum.
Besides B.R. Films and Goldstone, there are four or five Bollywood film production houses and another half a dozen regional film production companies that are also planning to enter this field.