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  Entertainment   TV  01 Feb 2021  The power of the screen

The power of the screen

THE ASIAN AGE. | NAYARE ALI
Published : Feb 1, 2021, 12:17 pm IST
Updated : Feb 1, 2021, 12:17 pm IST

Several big names, not necessarily from the film industry, are starting production houses to make movies and TV shows

(Left) Michelle and Barack Obama with the directors of the documentary American Factor, which they produced; (above) Hillary and her daughter Chelsea Clinton have formed a film and TV company to produce female-centric content
 (Left) Michelle and Barack Obama with the directors of the documentary American Factor, which they produced; (above) Hillary and her daughter Chelsea Clinton have formed a film and TV company to produce female-centric content

Hillary and her daughter Chelsea Clinton have formed a film and TV company to produce female-centric content. They will be developing the TV version of author Gayle Tzemach Lemmon’s The Daughters of Kobani: A Story of Rebellion, Courage, and Justice.

Former president Barack Obama too has founded a film and TV production company called Higher Ground with wife Michelle. They are partnering with Netflix, reportedly have 7 projects slated for release.

 

In India, while there may have been sporadic attempts by politicians to experiment with the creative medium, no high-profile names have been openly associated with any film or TV show. Probably entrepreneur Mukul Deora comes closest to a politics-film industry link. The son of the late MP and Union Minister Murli Deora and brother of former Congress MP Milind Deora, Mukul is one of the co-producers, along with Priyanka Chopra, of The White Tiger currently being aired on Netflix.

However, the business community has been more experimental, with Anil Ambani’s ADA group joining hands with Steven Spielberg’s DreamWork Studios way back in 2009.

 

Former Team India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and wife Sakshi have formed a company called Dhoni Entertainment. Not much is known about their venture, but sources in the know say Sakshi wants to head a team to produce content driven docu films. She has set up an office in Mumbai and has been dropping hints in her insta posts about an announcement soon.

Kannada superstar Ramesh Aravind welcomes this trend of celebrities in other fields getting into the entertainment arena. He says, “Films are a fabulous medium to communicate your viewpoint about a theme through a story telling format. Given that these people are achievers with strong opinions, they will surely make impactful movies. I believe the bigger the mind involved, the better the film.”
This optimism notwithstanding, while powerful political personalities have the money and the muscle power, a lack of understanding of how the film industry functions could put them at a disadvantage. Tanya Madhvani, director, Madhvani group of companies feels, “It’s all driven by the power of the screen which lets you send out any message to the audience. Look at The Crown for example; I often wonder which production company is behind it and whether there is any involvement on any level of the royal family itself, as the messages are very clear and alter one’s perception of the royal family as we once knew it, humanising them.” While saying, “The glamour I feel is the main appeal,” she points out that “to some, the cost of making a production is worth this attribute. So, both sides get what they want.”

 

Elahe Hiptoolah, Bollywood producer, wonders why successful personalities in other fields want to get into filmmaking. “If they are smart enough, they will hire people who know their job. Having a big name attracts credibility and a certain amount of money to the project. Michelle Obama will not support a sexist or misogynistic product. You know it will not be something flaky. I would not know why Dhoni’s wife wants to be a producer. It’s like a trend now. At one point of time, everyone wanted to be a fashion designer; now it’s Bollywood. They have access to money and stars, and that helps. But yes, if it can work for the larger good of the industry, then why not?”

 

Will the industry benefit from having such powerful producers who have the financial means to greenlight offbeat ventures too? “I think it will, as financing for film production has always been a challenge. But it may be that these powerful producers only end up financing the ‘Big Boys’, which won’t help the offbeat ventures but just increase money spent on big productions,” says Tanya. “If you look at Netflix, it shows smaller productions and has great content,” she adds.

Tanya feels financing from big players has always existed but perhaps today they are just more open about it. “I know from my mother (yesteryear’s actress Mumtaz) that in her times movies were backed by people in the business world or political,” adds Tanya.  

 

While the industry itself is somewhat enthusiastic about these new investors with deep pockets, the million-dollar question is, how will this impact their brand image socially? Brand consultant Harish Bijoor believes that when eminently successful people either lend their names to or actually start their own film production houses, they are making a statement. “They are saying that I back this enterprise. That is enough of a statement to help raise funds at the back end; and at the front end it helps establish a launch platform for the enterprise.” However, Harish warns that both these advantages are short-term boosters. “If the enterprise fails to deliver the kinds of returns investors expect from such forays, money has a habit of drying up,” he says. “In the same manner, in case the creative enterprise is of substandard quality as far as viewers are concerned, viewership dries up as well. Therefore, it is important for these personas to use the advantage they have with their start-ups to make it happen at both the back-end and front-end equally,” he cautions.

 

It’s all driven by the power of the screen which lets you send out any message to the audience. Look at The Crown for example; I often wonder which production company is behind it and whether there is any involvement on any level of the royal family itself, as the messages are very clear and alter one’s perception of the royal family as we once knew it, humanising them
— Tanya Madhvani, director, Madhvani group of companies

Having a big name attracts credibility and a certain amount of money to the project. Michelle Obama will not support a sexist or misogynistic product. You know it will not be something flaky. I would not know why Dhoni’s wife wants to be a producer. It’s like a trend now    
— Elahe Hiptoolah, Bollywood producer

 


Films are a fabulous medium to communicate your viewpoint about a theme through a story telling format. Given that these people are achievers with strong opinions, they will surely make impactful movies. I believe the bigger the mind involved, the better the film
— Ramesh Aravind, Kannada superstar

When eminently successful people either lend their names to, or actually start their own film production houses, they are making a statement. They are saying that I back this enterprise. That is enough of a statement to help raise funds at the back end; and at the front end it helps establish a launch platform for the enterprise.”
— Harish Bijoor, Brand consultant 

 

Tags: the daughters of kobani: a story of rebellion courage and justice, chelsea clinton, hillary clinton
Location: India, Telangana, Hyderabad