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Producer – Ashok Amritraj

One Hundred: Not Out

After 30 years in the business, and with 100 Hollywood films under his belt, producer Ashok Amritraj has seen it all; from the highs of Raising Helen to the lows of Battlefield Earth. Here, he shares the secrets of his success.

This year sees Ashok Amritraj, CEO of Hyde Park Entertainment, celebrate three decades in the film industry. As the producer of over 100 films, including Antitrust, Raising Helen and Premonition, Amritraj has partnered with every major Hollywood studio, worked with stars as diverse as Bruce Willis, Dustin Hoffman, Kurt Russell and Angelina Jolie and produced films that have, in total, grossed over $1bn worldwide. In short, he is the most successful producer of Indian origin in Hollywood. Not bad for a man who started out as a professional tennis player.

Of course, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. Amritraj has been on the end of critical and commercial drubbing for some of his films, including Battlefield Earth and Entropy. But he’s always bounced back, which is no mean feat in an industry that is notoriously unforgiving. As his peers gathered to celebrate his achievements, movieScope sat down with Amritraj to discuss his longevity in a business that seems in a constant state of flux.

• Firstly, how did you make the leap from professional tennis to making movies?
I loved movies. India’s a big moviegoing country, but English movies were big in the south; The Sound of Music, Ben Hur, To Sir with Love, all these great movies. When I got to Hollywood in the Seventies to play tennis, I gravitated toward that automatically. My friendships were with Charlton Heston, Sidney Poitier and Sean Connery at the time, but tennis got me into it. It was also a time when there were no Indians in the business; it was a white man’s world. I played a lot of really bad tennis games trying to break into the film industry-I’d play at producers’, studio executives’ and stars’ homes!

 

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