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Distributors
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Of immediate interest to the distribution of Hong Kong films is a particular kind of distributor who deals in imported films. Most distributors who deal in imported films also deal in films dubbed from other Indian languages, low budget Hindi films, re-runs of Telugu films and Indian as well as imported soft porn films. There are a number of combinations and specializations but an important feature of this sector is the relatively low amount they are willing to invest in a film. This entire category of distributor came into existence in the early to mid-1980s, partly due to the decanalization of film import which permitted NRIs (Non-Resident Indians) to import films. In fact, the NRI importer, the B circuit and Hong Kong films are closely related to each other.

Indo Overseas Films, Chennai, was established by an NRI who was an exporter of seafood. Prior to 1984, the company distributed Hindi films. In 1984 it began to distribute films imported by the state-owned National Film Development Corporation. In 1990 it began importing films directly, as the government relaxed import regulations. At present the company is the largest distributor of Hong Kong films in India and has to date imported close to 200 films. It claims to be the sole Indian distributor for Golden Harvest. Most sub-distributors of Hong Kong films I met said that their entry into the business was a consequence of Indian importer-distributors like Indo Overseas Films who, unlike local representatives of American distribution companies, were willing to sell rights to sub-distributors. Sreesaila Babu of Raghavendra Film Distributors, for example, dealt in re-issues of Telugu films before 1983. Now 60% of his films are English ones and he also deals in Hindi films.

There have been other importers and distributors of Hong Kong films operating in the southern states. Metro Films Corporation, Chennai (established in 1983) has imported 125-150 films, including Hong Kong films (number unknown). In the year 1994-95 it stopped importing films, apparently due to censor trouble. The company now produces Tamil films. It is not clear if the methods of distribution employed by the company were similar to Indo Overseas. Poorna Pictures Private Limited, Vijayawada, has released a number of Hong Kong films in Andhra Pradesh, including films imported by Metro Films Corporation. This is the oldest distribution company in the state and also owns cinema halls in Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam. Unlike most existing distributors Poorna never buys films outright and only distributes on a percentage basis. At present it distributes films in Hindi and English (including films released by American companies), having largely exited from Telugu.


P. Prasad Babu of Kanthi Pictures, Tirupathi, with samples of pickles (also sold by him) in the foreground. Distribution sector in Andhra Pradesh has a high attrition rate. Over the past two decades or so hundreds of new distributions offices have opened across the state. Scores disappeared in a few years. Selling pickles could well be a survival strategy for those who want to remain in the film business. S. Subramanian of Indo Overseas Films (centre) with dubbing coordinator V. Shashi Kumar (left). Shashi Kumar has dubbed films into Tamil for Indo Overseas Films. Feroz Ilias who heads Indo Overseas Films, India's largest importer of Hong Kong films. In a manner of speaking, he presides over the B circuit distribution of Hong Kong films in India. In fact it is around companies like Indo Overseas that a number of smaller distributors, constituting the B circuit chain of Hong Kong films, emerged. Sivaprasad, Columbia Pictures, Vijayawada. He also has his own distribution company called Viswachitra Films, which has distributed a number of non-Telugu films. Columbia does not insist on distributing their own films and has often sold territories to small distributors.

R.K. Bhagawan, S.V.S. Films, Chennai. From being a manager of a small town cinema hall he moved into distribution and later dubbed films in to Telugu. For over a decade he distributed Hong Kong films in Andhra Pradesh and he now focusses on ‘quality Hong Kong films which flopped in their English versions’ and dubs them into Telugu. Has often worked with Indo Overseas Films. An advertisement by a distributor listing available films. The combination of Hong Kong martial arts film, Hollywood B films/reruns and soft porn from across the world is a characteristic B circuit combination. (Source: Jyothichitra, Ugadi 1986) Sunil of Surabhi Enterprises, Secunderabad, specializes in Hindi dubbed versions of Hollywood films. Display board in the Sri Shakthi Films office, Secunderabad.

Satyanarayana Reddy, Proprietor, Sri Suchitra Films, Vijayawada. Ramesh Reddy, Manager, Sri Suchitra Films, Vijayawada. He is himself a Hong Kong film enthusiast. He created a fictitious Jackie Chan fan club to promote his company's Chan starrer. Sreesailababu, Proprietor of Sri Raghavendra Films, Vijayawada. One of the old hands at distributing Hong Kong films. B. Mohan Rao, General Manager Poorna Pictures and Urvasi Complex, Vijayawada. The distribution company is said to be the oldest in Andhra Pradesh.