With Red Chillies coming on board, Kaamyaab’s exposure has been fabulous: Drishyam Films’ Manish Mundra


Written by Mimansa Shekhar
| New Delhi |

Published: March 5, 2020 2:46:46 am


kaamyaab sanjay mishra Kaamyaab is directed by Hardik Mehta.

Hardik Mehta directorial Kaamyaab, starring Sanjay Mishra and Deepak Dobriyal, is set to release on March 6. The film revolves around a character actor who is yearning to make a noteworthy comeback in order to complete the record of 500 films. While Drishyam Films has produced the drama, Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment is presenting it.

Speaking to indianexpress.com about their latest joint venture, Drishyam Films’ founder Manish Mundra and Gaurav Verma, COO Red Chillies Entertainment, got candid about what attracted them to Kaamyaab, how they judge audience preferences and challenges involved in selling a film sans any big star.

Here are excerpts from the conversation:

What really does a producer or a distributor see when he decides to back a project? Is it always about business?

Gaurav: Good stories. I think that is primary. You connect with the film if the story touches your heart. And then you want to take it to viewers all over. In the process, it is also important to work with like-minded people. We are lucky to have Manish (Mundra) and Drishyam Films. He has trusted us with Kaamyaab.

Why Kaamyaab this time?

Gaurav: So, Manish reached out to me over Twitter. We (Red Chillies) have always been a fan of Drishyam Films, the kind of movies they back, the kind of cinema they are churning out for consumers. So we spoke about multiple things. Kaamyaab was ready. Manish was taking the film to various festivals across the world. And he wanted us to see it. When we saw the film, we fell in love with the character Sudheer (Sanjay Mishra) and the film. Hardik (Mehta, director) has made a very beautiful film which touches upon those who are part of this film business. Everyone can relate to Sudheer. We thought it is a great opportunity to collaborate.

Manish: Actually, from the point when it was in the shape of a synopsis which Hardik sent me, I loved how this character Sudheer will be told. It had an interesting arc because it is based out of the film industry. But then it also touches upon the general life of the people of our country and how most of us keep struggling on the fringe. A lot of things depend upon how we are opinionated and how we are perceived by society. This contiguous struggle was clearly coming out when I read the script. So I thought this story needs to be told.

But does it become challenging to sell or promote a film that does not feature a “star” or a big actor?

Manish: It has its challenges. We have always been making films which are content-driven. Actors are chosen based on the role, and Sanjay
Mishra was the right fit for Kaamyaab. Of course, we knew from day one that it would be challenging to take the film to a mass scale, but that was not the objective. Objective was to make this film and take it to the extent possible. With Red Chillies coming on board, Kaamyaab’s exposure into the target audience has been excellent and fabulous. And with the great strategy that Gaurav has been working on, the response has been much better than Masaan and Newton. Red Chillies was able to disrupt the whole idea that if you don’t take a star in a film, nobody is there to watch it. Of course, we are going to get Rs 100 crore out of the film, but we are very sure that the film will reach out.

manish mundra gaurav verma kaamyaab film Drishyam Film’s founder Manish Mundra (left) and Red Chillies Entertainment COO Gaurav Verma (right).

Red Chillies has mostly backed commercial films. Then why Kaamyaab?

Gaurav: It would be unfair to say that Red Chillies makes hardcore potboilers. We have to find the right opportunity at the right place. We had Ittefaq, Badla, Bard of Blood. We have Bob Biswas, which is happening now. There is a conscious approach. The idea is to back great content.

With Bard of Blood, Red Chillies also entered the digital space. Is it because the web seems to be the future?

Gaurav: It adds one more layer to consumer and creators. It is neither competition nor future. Stories will be told, and on bigger platforms. It is a boon for consumers and storytellers. For Bard of Blood, it was an exhausting process, because you have so many pages of story, shoot with a certain discipline. It is like you are shooting five films.

On the contrary, Drishyam Films has mostly supported small movies. We’ve had films like Ankhon Dekhi, Masaan and Newton in the past. Is that a strategy?

Manish: I am self-driven so I don’t have that much money to make a Rs 50-crore film. Also, I strongly feel India has so many stories which can be told in a very prudent budget. I am trying to prove the point that a film can be made in less than Rs 5 crore, so that we are successful on two fronts. One, that we are able to recover our costs and break-even in most of the films. And number two, we are successful in creating an ecosystem where more small filmmakers can get confidence where you break the myth that you require large funds to make a film. So, small films growing big is one of the important contributions in the whole chain.

According to both of you, how has the audience expectations changed over the past few years?

Gaurav: As Shah Rukh says most of the time during our creative meetings, the only thing that we’ve not been able to figure out in this business is audience reactions. In the process of filmmaking, what you want to be, and what you set out to make, and what you really make are three different things. It depends on how far you can take a vision and how much clarity you have. And the audience reaction to the films that you have done can be used to implement things in future.

Manish: To add to what Gaurav said, I strongly feel that the audience has evolved in the last 6-7 years with the advent of digital platforms and the huge content flowing in from across the world has educated the consumers. They are ever ready to experiment and look for new films, realistic stories. They now are more focused on content than star-driven projects. If you scroll through the comments on the trailer or anything, they are very educated, very aware of what’s going on across the world and what they are expecting. So I feel it is a good time where those viewers are increasing. It is a challenge and onus on us to continuously and consistently keep offering films like this which are highly content-driven and are appreciated by the viewers.

Any particular genre you believe the Indian audience is ready to consume?

Manish: We can’t pin-point one genre. What I feel is the audience is ready for anything. In the last 7-8 years, even the typical Hindi cinema has changed. If you make an illogical film, no matter how big the star is, people won’t appreciate it. I feel the challenge is to keep evolving stories which people will connect with.

Gaurav: With the evolution of multiplexes, and the boom in streaming platforms, what has happened is you have structure available for every kind of film today. The consumer has exposure to international content so they are opening up to every kind of story. Also, infrastructure is available which gives flexibility to every genre and good stories. Gone are the days when you said a thriller or action will work. If it’s a good story, restricted or not restricted by genre, it will work. Because you have revenue, you have platform and consumer has changed over a period of time.

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