You left television in 2011 to start your own film production company and now almost a year after starting Grazing Goats Pictures with Akshay Kumar, you have returned. What brings you back
By the time I was leaving television I had spent 20 years in the industry and at the time I thought that I had done it all. It was only after reading the script of Oh My God! I decided to make movies. As far as getting back to television is concerned, as a production company we always wanted to expand but I did not want to return till I had an interesting concept. After I heard about the concept of Jamai Raja, I decided it would be an apt story for my television comeback.
Where does your partner Akshay Kumar fit in the scheme of things
Akshay does as many as four films a year, so I dont think we can expect him to be sitting in the office every day. Nonetheless, he comes to office twice or thrice a week and we discuss everything. While he is aware of everything that is happening in the company, I am in charge of the day-to-day functioning. As matter of fact, one of the reasons we made Punjabi and Marathi movies initially is because Akshay, being a Punjabi, understands the dynamic of the market and provides essential inputs while I being a a Marathi, understand the demands of the Marathi people when it comes to watching movies.
How many films do you intend to make in a year
We released Fugly in June this year. The next film that we plan to release is Singh is Bling. A big-ticket movie, it has been co-produced with Pen and features Akshay Kumar in the leading role and has been directed by Pravu Deva. Additionally, I am working on another movie which is being co-produced by Dharma Productions.
What are the kind of stories you want to tell
For us, it is the script and the story which is of utmost importance. For example, Oh My God! was a mid-budget film. It was purely a Paresh Rawal film and Akshay had a cameo role. The movie went on to do business worth more than R100 crore. With 70% of movie goers being the youth, the idea is to create films that clicks with the youth. For example, thrillers and romantic-comedies are currently the favourite genres of the youth, while comedy works across all age groups.
How has your experience with regional movies been
We have made two regional filmsone in Punjabi named Bhaji in Problem and the other one in Marathi titled 72 Miles Ek Prabhat. Punjabi films tend to do well at a global level as Punjabi viewers are present in international markets such as the UK, the USA, Canada and Australia. The market for Marathi films is small but the return-on-investment is higher. For example, the box office collections for Leh Bhari produced by Ritesh Deshmukh was R30 crore in three weeks. After making movies in these two languages, I would like to explore the Bangla film industry mainly because of the kind of talent the industry has and the kind of concepts one can play around with.
What are your plans for television
Apart from the fiction show Jamai Raja which is currently being aired on Zee TV, we plan to launch one or two more fiction shows on television. As we launched our television arm this year, the idea is to expand the division by creating more fiction shows. We do not plan to create any non-fiction shows as it is a different ball game for which we are not yet ready.
How is your YouTube channel FashionOnYourOwn (FOMO) doing
FOMO is doing well. We have got Hindustan Unilever as one of the sponsors. We have also started a blog based on it. Our experience with FOMO has taught us that Hindi channels tend to do better online. This is because people in small towns do not have access to fashion and lifestyle channels and even if they have, with most of them being in English, they are not able to understand the language. Also, with most of the content being do-it-yourself tips it works wonderfully amongst young women. We hope to start four to five new channels by next year in the genre of beauty and films. All channels will be bi-lingual and will be available both in English and Hindi.