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October 13, 2008

The DreamWorks-Reliance romance

Dealmaker has an interesting piece comparing the coming together of DreamWorks and Reliance Big Entertainment to a Bollywood movie.
Forbidden Fruit
In a society known for arranging marriages, it's not surprising that one of the most common threads in Bollywood films involves a woman who feels trapped and yearns for romance. Fitting, then, that DreamWorks, thrust into a loveless marriage with Viacom's Paramount two years ago, would begin to pine for something more satisfying than the creative vision of Sumner Redstone.

Indian movies are famously melodramatic. Interestingly, the wheels of this deal began to turn after DreamWorks execs were the subject of scornful comments by Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, who last year told investors that any DreamWorks defection would be "completely immaterial" to Viacom. (Cut to David Geffen, tears welling in his eyes.)

Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham
The title of one of Bollywood's most famous films translates as Sometimes Happiness, Sometimes Sadness -- an apt description of DreamWorks and its recent run. Sure, the latest Indiana Jones movie minted money this summer, as did Transformers in 2007. But big-budget flops, including Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas and The Island, nearly bankrupted the studio. Should Ambani succeed in righting DreamWorks, "Hooray for Bollywood" might well become Spielberg's new theme song.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the private equity and venture capital ecosystem in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports.