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from Breakingviews:

Hollywood’s hopes in China rest on Youku

By Rob Cox

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Look around the subway in Beijing or Shanghai and maybe nine of 10 passengers are watching videos on their mobile devices. Chances are most of them are watching content delivered to them by Youku Tudou. The country’s leading internet television operator streams 400 million videos a day. In that sense, Youku is Netflix and YouTube - plus Comcast and Liberty Media - stuffed into one dumpling. It is also the nexus for Hollywood’s high hopes in the Middle Kingdom.

You wouldn’t know it from Youku’s financial reports. The company founded by Victor Koo, and run day-to-day by a former student of central planning, Dele Liu, is listed in New York, where it commands a relatively modest $4 billion market cap compared to Netflix’s $26 billion. In the first quarter, it lost $36 million on revenue of $113 million. Still, the company is making progress, enough that China’s sultan of e-commerce, Alibaba, bought 16.5 percent of the group for $1 billion in April.

Youku’s long-term fortunes depend on two things: securing and defending copyright for hit shows, and getting Chinese consumers to pay for the privilege of watching them, something they’ve long resisted. China’s government even seems to be getting on board in the battle to protect the makers of intellectual content from robbery. For this reason alone, Tinseltown should hope the scrappy Chinese company can pull it off.

from India Insight:

A Minute With: Ayushmann Khurrana

It’s been two years since Ayushmann Khurrana made an unconventional Bollywood debut with “Vicky Donor”, playing a sought-after sperm donor at a fertility clinic.

Despite its bold theme, the romantic comedy was a hit in conservative India and helped Khurrana, a known face on Indian television, gain a foothold in a competitive Hindi film industry.

from Breakingviews:

Alibaba film deal adds to China internet frenzy

By Robyn Mak
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Alibaba’s latest deal shows the extent of investors’ frenzy for China’s internet. The e-commerce giant announced on March 11 it had agreed to buy 60 percent of Hong-Kong listed ChinaVision for $804 million. The film group’s market value promptly soared to almost $5 billion. Star-struck investors are too easily excited.

from India Insight:

Actress Suchitra Sen dead at 82

By Sujoy Dhar and Shilpa Jamkhandikar

Actress Suchitra Sen, known for several landmark roles in Bengali and Hindi cinema, died in Kolkata on Friday after prolonged illness. She was 82.

Sen, known as much for her graceful looks and demeanour as her acting prowess, starred in several hits with fellow Bengali actor Uttam Kumar, including “Agni Pariksha” (1954) and “Saptapadi” (1961).

from India Insight:

A Minute With: Sascha Sippy

Ramesh Sippy's epic buddy action film "Sholay" failed to impress audiences when it came out in 1975. Almost 40 years later, the movie is an integral part of Indian pop culture. The film is now being released in 3D amid much acrimony.

Sippy went to court against his nephews who own the rights to the film. His nephew, Sascha Sippy, who runs Sippy Films, said that his uncle didn't have any rights to the film, and did not have a say in whether the film could be released.

from Photographers' Blog:

The last theater in town

Powell River, Canada

By Andy Clark

As far back as I can remember, history has always fascinated me. Though my specialty as an amateur historian has been military history, just about anything that occurred prior to my birth has had my undivided attention. Recently while having a coffee with a friend, he mentioned he had been to a town north of Vancouver called Powell River and had happened to visit a local movie theater. He went on to say matter of factly, that the theater had been continuously running since it was built many years ago.

“Stop right there,” I said. “Did you take any pictures of the place?” Yes, he had and he pulled out his laptop to show me.

from India Insight:

Documentary captures Indian cricket’s lesser-known faces

Prithvi Shaw is 14 and looks like any other schoolboy at first glance. But those who have seen him wield a cricket bat call him India's next Sachin Tendulkar. They say he's as natural and as powerful in his stroke play as the world's most famous batsman was at that age. Shaw started playing when he was three, going up against people more than twice his age.

"He was shorter than the stumps he used to bat in front of," Shaw's father said.

from India Insight:

Woody Allen stops “Blue Jasmine” India release because of anti-tobacco ads

(We have updated this post with a statement from Allen's publicist)

Woody Allen's latest movie "Blue Jasmine" will not debut in India this weekend after the filmmaker objected to anti-tobacco ads that the Indian government requires cinemas to play before and during movies that feature scenes with characters smoking.

Allen refused to make "customisations" in the film to accommodate the ads, which led to distributor PVR Pictures cancelling the release, said two sources familiar with the matter. Both sources declined to comment because they were not authorized to talk about it with journalists.

from Photographers' Blog:

Back to the pinhole future

Velenje, Slovenia

By Srdjan Zivulovic

I haven't been this excited and concerned about a story for a long time. I was about to photograph a young designer and his wooden pin hole camera. Photographing in a pristine way, without a lens and on film is a really amazing experience. Working for a long time with digital photography, I got used to the ease and speed of shooting, editing and transmitting the captured material to Reuters clients. Now, I had to remember all the procedures and loopholes involved in capturing and processing on the Leica film format.

That’s why I am grateful to the young and ever-cheerful designer and photographer Elvis Halilović for continuing the idea and development of pinhole cameras.

from India Masala:

Ghanchakkar: Not crazy enough

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

There is nothing ostensibly wrong with Rajkumar Gupta’s “Ghanchakkar”. The filmmaker builds a story about a bank robber who loses his memory and cannot remember where he stashed the booty from a heist three months ago.

Emraan Hashmi plays Sanjay Atre, a seemingly mild man who is an expert at cracking bank vaults and lives with his garrulous and gaudily dressed wife Neetu (Vidya Balan). In what he decides will be his last crime, he pulls off a 350 million rupee heist with Pandit (Rakesh Sharma) and Idris (Namit Das).

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