Anil Ambani’s Reliance Entertainment has confirmed that it financed 15 per cent of the budget of Tout La-Haut, the French film produced by Julie Gayet, the partner of France’s then President Francois Hollande.
Reliance Entertainment had paid 1.5 million Euros through one of its partners, French financing firm VisVires Capital, towards the production of the film, the company said in a statement.
“Reliance Entertainment had paid the aforesaid only EUR 1.48 million to Visvires Capital on 5th December 2017, as customary only about two weeks before the release of the film on 20th December 2017,” the company said in a statement to the Indian Express.
Besides films, the Reliance Group has made several other successful co-investments with Visvires Capital, including inter alia in Sula Wines and Grover Vineyards, prior to the film co-financing, the statement said.
VisVires Capital is founded by Ravi Viswanathan, a Singapore-based French businessman of Indian origin who is a longstanding friend of Ambani.
“Reliance Entertainment has not signed any agreement with Ms. Julie Gayet or her company, Rouge International, and nor has any payment ever been made by Reliance Entertainment to either of them in relation to the film, nOmber One,” the company statement quoted a spokesperson while giving these details to the Indian Express.
‘nOmber One’ was the title of the film when it was announced; it was released under the title ‘Tout La-Haut’.
Anil Ambani’s company also said that it received EUR 300,000 from the film’s French producer for providing physical production services for extensive location shooting in difficult mountainous terrains in Ladakh. Directed by Serge Hazanavicius and featuring French actor Kev Adams, Tout La-Haut was shot in Nepal and Ladakh, besides France.
Reliance Entertainment had announced on 24th January, 2016, that it had entered into an agreement with Gayet’s firm, Rouge International, to jointly produce a French film. Two days later, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Hollande signed an MoU in New Delhi for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France in flyaway condition. Hollande was a part of Republic celebrations in India then.
Mediapart, a French newsportal had broken a story on 21st September, where Hollande told them,
“We didn’t have a say in that. It was the Indian government that proposed this service group (Reliance), and Dassault who negotiated with Ambani. We didn’t have a choice, we took the interlocutor who was given to us.”
He had contradicted Indian government’s claim that the deal between Dassault and Reliance was a commercial pact between two private parties and the government had nothing to do with it. However, the same evening, Dassault issued an official statement negating what Hollande had said.
The deal for 36 jets in a government-to-government agreement was announced by Modi on 10th April, 2015 during his visit to Paris, which led to the cancellation of the 126-aircraft deal being negotiated by the previous government. The deal was eventually signed on 23rd September, 2016 in Delhi between then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his French counterpart.
However, objections were raised by a senior Ministry of Defence (MoD) officer who was a part of the Contract Negotiations Committee then. These objections delayed the Cabinet note approving the deal and its signing which only happened after his objections were “overruled” by another senior MoD official, Director General (Acquisition).
The 98-minute, now a controversial French film, was first screened at the San Sebastian International Film Festival in Spain in 2017, and subsequently distributed in eight other countries including UAE, Taiwan, Lebanon, Belgium, Estonia and Latvia. However, though produced by Reliance Entertainment, Tout La-Haut has not been released in India as yet.
With Inputs from The Indian Express