Reaching out to a wider audience through films: Producers Ashwin Varde and Murad Khetani
Producers Ashwin Varde and Murad Khetani brought the famous chacha-bhatija Anil and Arjun Kapoor together for the first time on the big screen in their film Mubarakan. The duo has also co-produced The Shaukeens and Boss, both starring Akshay Kumar, as well as Manish Paul’s debut film Mickey Virus.
Riding high on the success of Mubarakan, the producer duo chats with Pandolin on what brought them together to start Cine1 Studios, how they enable the director’s vision and their views on digital content in India.
What led to the inception of Cine1 Studios? How has the journey been so far?
Ashwin: Murad and I share a common interest for movies and we came together so that we could make interesting films. We know each other from before through common friends but at that time, the idea was not to get together to make films. It happened at a much later stage, as it was a common area of interest.
It has been a good journey so far. The film industry is evolving and the kinds of films we are making are very interesting. Newer markets are opening so entertainment isn’t limited to films alone. The idea is to make films that appeal to a wider audience and with Mubarakan, we have got the kind of response we were looking for.
Did you face any challenges while working on Mubarakan?
Murad: You face challenges on every film that you make whether it is big or small. Filmmaking isn’t an easy process. We have to take things positively and make good films.
How are your individual roles segregated for a film? How involved are you in the creative process?
Murad: We are involved in the creative process but we don’t interfere in the director’s work. We share our inputs before we lock the script and decide to go on floor. Once the script is locked, we respect the director’s vision and don’t interfere.
Ashwin: Our creative involvement is till we lock the subject. We do everything together and don’t have work demarcations. A film is a director’s vision and when he comes to us with a script, we make sure to do everything in our capacity to enable that vision. Our primary responsibility is putting a great team together with ideal actors that suit the film and the best technical crew to assist him on the film because eventually a film is teamwork. We try to get good music and don’t compromise on shoot locations. Although the director is the captain of the ship, the producer is the owner who helps the captain steer the ship properly.
What are the kind of projects you like producing? On what basis do you pick films?
Murad: We keep reading scripts. Sometimes, if other language films come to us, we watch them as well. Our main focus is on getting the right script and we are picking what we like.
Your films Mubarakan, The Shaukeens etc. are commercial entertainers, how competitive is the market? Is it difficult to survive as a solo producer?
Murad: We don’t think it is difficult to survive as a solo producer; there is competition in every business not only in the film industry.
What are your views on digital content being produced in India?
Ashwin: The digital platform is currently in its nascent stage in India. It will take another two years for everyone to understand the platform completely. It is exactly what happened with the dot com movement in India a few years ago, only the best could survive eventually. I think a lot of filtering will happen in the next two years and only people with value-for-money and good content will survive. Producers are content creators and the effort that goes into making content whether it is for the big or small screen is the same. More the mediums, the avenues for creating content increase and that is good for us.
In one of your previous interviews it was mentioned that you are co-producing a film with Salman Khan. How does it feel combining forces with Salman Khan?
Ashwin: It is too early to speak about it as nothing is finalized yet.