January 22, 2009 / 9:09 AM / 9 years ago

Bollywood hit inspires India videogame

<p>Bollywood actress Asin feeds a piece of cake to actor Aamir Khan at a party for their movie Ghajini in Mumbai December 30, 2008.Manav Manglani</p>

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - A hit Bollywood thriller about a man with short-term amnesia has inspired India's first 3D videogame, in a country where the animation and gaming industry has been slow to grow but could touch $1.3 billion this year.

The PC game, based on the Hindi-language film "Ghajini," was launched in India this month and will be marketed worldwide as well by Indian film distributor Eros International PLC.

Ghajini, a box office smash last year in the world's biggest film industry in terms of volume, is loosely based on the 2000 Oscar-nominated Hollywood thriller Memento, directed by Christopher Nolan.

"There are no Indian games so we wanted to bring Indian games to the audiences here and we built India's first 3D game," said Sashi Reddy, head of FX labs, which developed the game.

"So this is based on one of the big Bollywood hits and the top hero in India."

Ghajini stars the popular Aamir Khan and revolves around a businessman who suffers from short-term memory loss after a fight with the villains who kill his girlfriend. His revenge, despite the memory handicap, forms the plot.

The gaming version is hoping to replicate the film's success.

"We are seeing that actually there is a lot of interest for games in India and this is showing that there is a big future for the game industry," Reddy added.

The timing of the launch seems just right. Economic reform and liberalization initiated in the early 1990s has given Indians more disposable income while the spread of cable TV has also opened them to newer cultural experiences.

"I have played lots of international games but this is the first time I got to play a game made in India," said game player Pawan Ratnakar. "The game does meet international standards."

Once just outsourcing sweatshops that sketched, painted and digitized ordered content, Indian animation and gaming firms are now aiming high -- claiming ownership of their products and sharing copyrights and profits.

The Indian market is expected to grow to about $1.3 billion this year from about $300 million in 2006, and employ about 30,000 animators alone, says the National Association of Software and Service Companies, the main industry lobby.

Writing by Krittivas Mukherjee, editing by Miral Fahmy

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