Akshay Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan
Upala KBR (DNA; June 12, 2017)

For the past few years, Shah Rukh Khan has been buying the negative rights to all his films.

Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar have followed suit. The older generation of actors may not have known the value of owning the prints or library of their films, but the digital and streaming media boom has made this relevant today.

Good business sense
This generation of actors have business acumen and are buying the rights to their current as well as earlier films, including clippings. Trade analyst Atul Mohan says, “Today, film rights are an asset because a remake of the film or telecast on a digital or satellite medium fetches the owner royalty money.” So, if anyone wants to use material from the films, he would now need to approach the actor and not the producer.

Future investment
Trading of film rights has a number of benefits. Mohan explains that by buying the rights, the stars are making investments for their future. “Actors buy the rights at a good price. As actors or producers get older and do fewer films or become inactive, they can generate an income by selling the rights.” For instance, Amitabh Bachchan couldn’t cash in on the Zanjeer, when it was remade since Prakash Mehra’s family owned the rights.

Personal library
Trade analyst Amod Mehra says that sometimes it’s not just for investment purposes. “SRK wants to be remembered for his good films. He may have made a few bad films that he does not want exposed, so he can buy them for his personal library.” Amod adds Shah Rukh has most of the rights of his films, except those made by Yash Raj Films and Dharma Productions, “He also wanted to buy the film rights of Anjaam, but the price he quoted was too little, so the producer Rahul Rawail sold it to someone else.”

Changing business models
Filmmaker Subhash Ghai has been approached by leading channels and distributors to accrue rights of films for specified periods such as three or five years. However, no star has approached him to buy the right yet. “Mukta Arts has a library of over 40 films, with maximum blockbusters. Business models keep changing, and we will do to the best in the interest of the company.” The producer-director chooses not to reveal whether Shah Rukh wanted to buy the rights of Pardes and Trimurti.