Gaurav Verma & Manish Mundra

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Red Chillies Entertainment And Manish Mundra’S Dhrishyam Films Have Collaborated For The Sanjay Mishra Starrer ‘Kaamyaab’ Which Has Been Getting Rave Reviews. So Here We Are, In Conversation With Gaurav Verma, Coo, Red Chillies And Manish Mundra To Speak About This Film, The Growing Competition And Widening The Horizon.

‘Kaamyaab’ is getting some great reviews and the trailer itself had striked a chord. What’s your reaction to that?

Gaurav Verma: When you’re putting a film out like this, you want to be very sure that it reaches the right people. I think we’ve been lucky that the fi rst unit – the trailer itself connected to the audience.

Do you believe, this time is relevant for a film like this to release?

Gaurav Verma: I think the audience is accepting any film with a good story with open arms; they are just lapping it up. So, as someone who is in the business of backing stories, we are lucky that there is so much excitement and openness among consumers. So, it gives you so much leeway and you can tell multiple stories like what Manish is doing today. Had he released ‘Aankhon Dekhi’ today or ‘Newton’ today – the business would have been much more different. But I think his contribution has also been significant in terms of educating people and bringing them to cinemas for these films.

How do you decide what platform does a particular kind of content require? For instance, deciding if something needs a wider release, as opposed to being showcased digitally.

Gaurav Verma: It’s a question of belief and not the film actually. What’s the idea when you make a film? The idea is to take it to consumers. Theatre is a medium, television is a medium, digital is a medium, home video is a medium. You choose which route is the most appropriate for your film; because you want more people to see it. As we spoke about ‘Aankhon Dekhi’; the box-office collection of the film wasn’t high but the film has sustained. There’s still conversation around the film. Why? Because the film was so good and the platforms have enabled the viewers who missed it out in the theatres, to watch the film. So, if you believe in a film, it’s about take it all out.

And talking of Red Chillies Entertainment, the company has always used its brand value to raise the benchmark – in terms of bringing something new on a larger scale. So, how do you look at the company’s aim at this point?

Gaurav Verma: We took this step and started making these films with ‘Ittefaq’. ‘Badla’ happened, ‘Betaal’ happened which will soon be out now on Netflix. There is ‘Class of 83’ and ‘Bob Biswas’ which Diya, Sujoy’s daughter is directing. Now we have ‘Kaamyaab’ with Manish. So, it’s a slow but a conscious effort to widen up the offering to the consumers and second is to, back every possible story that we believe in. Over a period of time, if you talk about the future then we would like to multiply that and do more films in a year. That would be great. Hopefully, this year, you should hear from us a lot more frequently in terms of the films we are doing.

But one sees, there’s been a conscious effort from Red Chillies Entertainment to make that shift and bring in newer content and re-invent, isn’t it?

Gaurav Verma: It’s cliche but it’s true that we have to work hard of course. Nothing just falls into your lap easily, except for ‘Kaamyaab’. That just fell into our lap (laughs). Otherwise, you have to work extremely hard, be aware about what’s happening in the industry, what kind of stories are being told, and stories you want to back. Slowly, we are in a position today, where we can tell every possible story with or without a popular protagonist. So, lots of hard work is needed.

Gaurav Verma: The consumers are spending two or two and a half hours every day on content. Who are we fighting with? If you see top 5 shows on Netflix, three are non-American shows. That means, the world is opening up. We are competing with everyone. We have to be on the toes all the time. It’s not just about hard work, but being aware and being ahead.

Having said that, people still remember ‘Aankhon Dekhi’ and it was critically so well-acclaimed.

Manish Mundra: I think that’s the objective; that the film survives beyond those three days or weeks. That’s what has motivated us to go ahead with the idea that content is the real star. I want to keep pushing the envelope in terms of content and keep the consistency in terms of doing those films., we breed a gamut of audience who believe in such cinema. Over a period, we’ve been doing that and now is the time where we can take it even further with partners like Red Chillies to make it bigger and grow the audience for this kind of cinema. The time is right and with the advent of social media, it’s gotten better. 10 years back if you wanted to release a trailer, it would cost you money and today organically it grows, and we have millions of people watching it. So, that’s the platform we have, to attract people to watch the trailer and be drawn to the cinema hall to watch the film.

So, how did this collaboration happen and how did the ball roll on this film?

Manish Mundra: Every film has its own journey. We make a film, back it and the film travels on its own. That’s what happened. We made ‘Kaamyaab’, it travelled across various platforms. We met through social media and I approached Gaurav that let’s meet and see how we can collaborate. He saw the film and loved it, the whole team loved it. So, I thought this was a good start to collaborate for. That’s how it happened. They came on board and took the film to the next level, beyond what we would have thought. That’s making me so happy that the Red Chillies’ team has done such a great work on it.

How do you decide what platform does a particular kind of content require? For instance, deciding if something needs a wider release, as opposed to being showcased digitally.

Manish Mundra: Taking it ahead from there; if say 1000 people missed out on ‘Aankhon Dekhi’ in the theatres and they saw it on various platforms; so then they will come to the theatres to watch ‘Masaan’ then. If they are happy with ‘Masaan’ and then you bring a ‘Dhanak’ or a ‘Newton’ – that’s how you increase the population of the audience who want to come and watch this kind of cinema. You grow the tribe. All those mediums just help you to propagate the film more.

If we see the kind of films you’ve made – what is it that has given you the gumption to back the kind of films you have?

Manish Mundra: Because I just don’t see those films on paper, but I see whether they have touched my heart or no. So, any story, which stays with me, or lingers on my mind – I make it. And of course, the budget is an important criteria I look at. There are some film ideas which we just left because we thought it’s too big for us to do justice to it and we don’t just want to do it for the sake of doing it. So, if the idea lingers on your mind then your heart will tell you to make it. The budget is the next thing. IF these two meet, then I go ahead and make it.

But one sees, there’s been a conscious effort from Red Chillies Entertainment to make that shift and bring in newer content and re-invent, isn’t it?

Manish Mundra: It’s about the survival of the fi ttest. The market is open throughout the world. If you don’t work hard and produce new content, someone else sitting in Mexico would do it. A person today sitting in Jaipur or Gujrat is open to content today from Israel or anywhere in the world. So, you have to work on your content or else you will perish. The rule is simple.

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