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TECHNOLOGY

Maddy to Sameera, everyone's hooked

Celebrities are the toast of video games tailor-made for mobile phones, says SANGEETHA DEVI. K



GIZMO FRIENDLY Madhavan is one of the many Indian actors to be featured in mobile games

Picture yourself as Ajay Devgan, playing the part of Omkara (Othello) to perfection. The trigger: Rumours about an affair between your wife Dolly and your best friend Kesu. Mission: Nothing but the truth. Method: Persistent and clever interrogation of people in the village, with some violence thrown in if need be. The more swiftly you conduct your interrogation, the more brownie points you earn. William Shakespeare would definitely be amazed, if not appreciative, of the clever marketing his works elicit today.

Mobile games inspired by Hollywood and Bollywood hits aren't new. But they're expensive to make. Egged on by the popularity of film-base content, content providers are competing to sign movie actors, television anchors and sports stars for games.

Understanding the potential of the mobile gaming industry, John Abraham was one of the first actors to develop a game, Velocity. Other content providers are swiftly closing in. They are developing games featuring actors such as Madhavan, Sameera Reddy, Mandira Bedi and Yana Gupta.

Take a closer look: In a game that was recently launched, Madhavan plays a pilot, an extension of his role in Rang de Basanti. He needs your help to manoeuvre the flight without crashing. In the second game, which will be launched soon, Maddy plays himself - an actor. All you need to do is help him reach the preview of his new film without being trapped by the paparazzi.

Meanwhile, Sameera Reddy gets rough and tough in the mobile game that pitches her as the Indian answer to Lara Croft. And Yana Gupta will do a bit more than just gaming. Through a video that will unfold on your phone, she will also give you fitness and grooming tips!

"Most mobile games brought to India are based on Hollywood hits. These games appeal to urban youngsters but don't find their way to other cities. To reach the masses, we are building games with Indian celebrities," says Salil Bhargava, CEO of Paradox Studios. Having done an international game featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme, the firm signed on Indian celebs Baichung Bhutia and Madhavan. "Bhutia was part of football games that coincided with the FIFA World Cup. We also introduced games for Wimbledon 2006. Celebrities are the biggest draw in India and we plan to introduce more games that will tap the different regional markets," adds Bhargava.

Celebrity-based games will be available for download through cellular service providers, at varying costs. You can opt for a permanent download to your phone by paying Rs. 50 to Rs. 100 or pay per game at Rs. 5 or Rs. 10.

Soon to be launched officially is the game named after Sameera Reddy. The game, set in an ancient Indian city, shows Sameera as an Indian princess whose city is being destroyed by warriors. In the action-packed game, Sam fights to save her father's city.

Says the ebullient actress, "Work for this game has been on for months and I'm happy with the outcome."

Madhavan feels that being part of mobile games adds to his brand name. "I am a gizmo freak so I jumped at the offer. Being part of mobile games, apart from being financially lucrative, offers more visibility," he says.

On your mobile

* Games featuring actors Madhavan, John Abraham, Sameera Reddy, Yana Gupta, composer Bappi Lahiri and football player Baichung Bhutia.

* Games based on latest hits like <145,O>Krrish, Omkara, Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, Yun Hota To Kya Hota, Sarkar and 36 China Town.

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