Interview By: AAKANSHA SHAKHEWAR
We have a chat with Shariq Patel the CEO of Zee and talk about how he green lights his films and why he produced ‘Manikarnika’. We even spoke about how many web series he has planned for the year and his take on small movies doing great because of the royalty in concept. Experts :
What brought you on board to produce ‘Manikarnika’?
Manikarnika was a story that was presented to us several years back and it is a story that was resonated with Punit Goenka and as the Managing Director of Zee, he had also made TV serial on ‘Jhansi Ki Rani’ and it is also a story that all of us have heard about in amar kathas and various other places but none of us have seen it on big screen. Last time the movie that was made on this icon was in 50’s so we just wanted to pay tribute to the India’s fiercest woman warrior so we decided to produce the movie.
What is the process you follow when you are about to produce a film?
The green lighting of movie is an extensive process. It starts with reading a script that the writer or producer brings to us and if we like the story we run it with the zee studios. The creative development team is the first filter and after that the business functions get into it like marketing then our international finishing team gets into it. Then it comes to me and when we all together are convinced we present it to the board, the promoters and prepare a note to Punit Goenka and then obviously as we have a television channel, music label and zee studios we take it to different levels and we then what kind of valuation it will get. This is the process we follow and I think this is a process that any other Studio will follow. The process, no matter which production house green lights what, it’s still going to be the same in corporate setup. One persons just does it all and it has a fair amount of labour and any story needs to go through a lot of process before we green light it and produce it.
What is your take on 2018 being a year where many movies that are small budget movies but have been loved by audiences because of the content they carry?
I think it’s been a journey that started a while back, of content led cinema to where it is now. What 2018 has showed is the number that these kinds of film can deliver is absolutely unexpected. Early days of ‘Bheja Fry’, ‘Khosla ka Ghosla’ they were the sleeper hits of that time but in terms of actual rupees they were very small numbers but now movies with star cast has been delivering 100 cores. The money is now flowing from a collection perspective and I think it is great. We just need strong content to work with and then we have a successful movie for the audiences.
How many web series have you planned to produce in 2019?
From a web perspective or overall platforms there is no specific number because we have just launched this division and we are evaluating scripts but I think we will have at least three to four web series that we will take in production and release them in the matter of 12 months cycle.
Are you looking at any regional markets other then Hindi and Marathi?
Yes defi nitely. We are releasing a Punjabi Film on 15th February 2019 called ‘Kala Shah kala’ so we are looking at getting into Punjabi a bit more and then maybe Telugu and other regional markets too.
What is Zee focusing the most at this year?
Being the leading content creation production, leading studio is what zee is mainly focusing at the most. We want to be in the business of producing good content and produce lots of it and to pickup strong stories, content and back them. We also have lots of in house production and co- productions that we have been doing so far so that is really the focus.
Has the economics of film business improved and what is your take on it?
The beauty of the business is that the cost always catches up with the economics. The moment you start seeing what the revenues are and get associated with it and the talent is enough, it does not let it be where it was; the spicy start was enough. Total amount of money that the movies make is increasing and the cost can catch up very fast because it’s never a state where the revenue is far away from the talent cost. It’s always about how will you find the next break through talent in terms of directorial or acting and when it is at its best you will get the results you want.
What is your movie slate for 2019?
In 2019, we have got the films that are already signed up and we are ready to distribute and introduce it to the world. ‘Kala Shah Kala’ a Punjabi movie. ‘Kesari’ we are doing with Dharma productions in March. ‘Good News’ again with Akshay kumar that may release in September. We are partnering with Sunny Deol’s production for ‘Pal Pal Dil K Paas’ where he is launching his son Karan Deol. So these are the fi lms that are already lined up and there are about 4 directors that we have signed up with and numerous number of writers are also working with our scripts and so we are looking at getting some of them done and get them on the floors for release in 2019.