India’s Zee Studios has announced an extensive slate of 28 titles for 2023, featuring some of the biggest names in their respective industries.
The titles, which include 26 films for theatrical release, one direct-to-digital film and one streaming series, are produced, co-produced or acquired by Zee Studios.
Big ticket films include H. Vinoth’s Tamil-language heist thriller “Thunivu”, starring megastar Ajith Kumar which will release in January 2023 during the Pongal festival frame; Amit Sharma’s long-awaited Hindi-language football epic “Maidan”, starring Ajay Devgan, due in February; Farhad Samji’s Hindi-language action-comedy “Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan,” starring superstar Salman Khan, during the Eid festival frame in April; and Sunny Deol-starrer “Gadar 2”, the sequel to Anil Sharma’s 2001 blockbuster “Gadar”.
Vivek Chauhan’s “Baap” stars Deol alongside veterans Sanjay Dutt, Mithun Chakraborty and Jackie Shroff. Other Hindi-language highlights include Ashima Chibber’s “Mrs. Chatterjee v. Norway”; Richa Chadha in Abhishek Acharya’s “Covid Stories”; Yami Gautam in Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury’s streaming-bound “Lost”; and Rahul Bose, Ishwak Singh and Apashakti Khurana in Atul Sabharwal’s “Berlin”.
Also in Hindi, writer Anurag Kashyap has a title – “Almost Pair with DJ Mohabbat” which premiered in Marrakech in November and Sunny Leone starrer “Kennedy”, which is bound for an A-list festival in 2023. Writer Debashish Makhiza’s “Zoram” will have its world premiere in Rotterdam in 2023. It stars Manoj Bajpayee, who is also in Apoorba Singh Kark’s “Banda” title Nawazuddin Siddiqui played a transgender in “Haddi” and acted in “Love is Blind”.
Karisma Kapoor headlines Abhinay Deo’s streaming series ‘Brown’
Highlights of Zee Studio’s Tamil-language slate include Muthaya’s “Kather Basha Endra Muthuramalingam,” starring Arya; popular actor Nayanthara’s untitled Nilesh Krishna’s 75th film; and Kishore Pandurang Beleker’s dialogue-free film “Gandhi Talks”, with music by AR Rahman, with Tamil cinema stars Vijay Sethupathi, Arvind Swamy and Aditi Rao Hydari.
Dulquer Salmaan directed Abhilash Joshi’s Malayalam-language version titled “The King of Where”. Marathi language films include Paresh Mokashi’s “Bhalavi”, Swapnil Joshi and Ashish Bender’s “Atma Pamphlet”, while Nagaraj starred in Manjule Hemant Awtade’s “Ghar Bandhuk Biryani” and Vikram Patwardhan’s “Frame”.
Jagesh acted in Kannada-language “Ranganayaka” and Telugu-language “Vimanam”. Zee Studio’s Punjabi language films include Pankaj Batra’s “Uchiyan Ne Galan Tere Yaar Diyan” and “Godde Gode Cha,” starring Gippy Grewal and Sonam Bajwa, respectively.
Zee Studios was established in 2012 as the content engine of media conglomerate Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited, which is in the process of merging with Sony Pictures Networks India.
“As a pan India media company Zee is a leading broadcaster across geographies and languages. The studio’s strategy in 2020 is geared towards getting into the bigger corporate game. We were already leaders in Marathi films, we added Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Punjabi to the regional mix. Initial response has been very encouraging with films like “Valimai” (Tamil), “Bangaraju” (Telugu), “Dharmaveer” (Marathi) performing well not only at the box office but also in terms of subscriber growth on OTT. [streaming] delivering healthy ratings across platforms and television,” said Sharik Patel, Chief Business Officer, Zee Studios diversity. “The trick remains to make films in different languages. We have a mix of tentpole and art house films and each film will have a unique release plan.”
“I am often asked by directors and producers if I am looking to greenlight any kind of film at any given time. My answer is always the same. First of all I have no idea what to click, no one in this business does, despite claiming to know. Secondly, as a studio I have to do everything, so for every Ajith Kumar-starrer ‘Thunivu’ or Dulquer, we will have a ‘Mrs’ for Kothar Raja. Chatterjee vs Norway’ with Rani Mukherjee or ‘Joram’ with Manoj Vajpayee,” added Patel. “We have to produce everything, we also work with Anil Sharma (‘Gadar 2’) and Anurag Kashyap (‘Kennedy’). We just have to make sure that every film we’re working on is properly budgeted and the economics make sense. We also have a Karisma Kapoor-starrer series ‘Brown’ directed by Abhinay Deo which is in post-production and we propose to produce more such premium series in the coming year.”
“We have divided our films according to size/scale/genre. And every film’s release strategy is created in a unique way. While most of them are for theatrical release in India, we have consciously invested in a set of films that we hope to take to the world through festivals like Debashish Makhiza’s ‘Joram’, ‘Gandhi Talks’, a silent film starring Vijay Sethupathi. and Arvind Swamy, Anurag Kashyap’s ‘Kennedy’ are some examples. We aspire to establish Zee Studio as the premier studio for Indian films,” said Patel.
Zee Studios, which bagged one of the biggest hits of 2022 with “The Kashmir Files”, currently has Kannada language film “Vedha” starring Shiva Rajkumar on release.