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    Ideal partnership: Ram Gopal Varma on Adlabs tie-up

    [Interview by Subhash K. Jha]
    Saturday, October 22, 2005
    It''s an "ideal partnership" on the creative and corporate level, says filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma of his Rs.1 billion tie-up with Anil Ambani-owned Adlabs that has interests in Bollywood''s production and distribution sectors.

    "We need larger number of films to keep the industry going. Our idea is to channelize and corporatize the filmmaking process both financially and creatively," Varma told IANS in an interview.

    "This partnership is not just about films but the entire spectrum of popular entertainment, from television to music....anything that entertains people," he explained.

    Also, the partnership was meant to "scale up" his creative and business prospects "as high as possible".

    Excerpts from the interview:

    So now you've gone into collaboration with Anil Ambani!

    No, I've nothing directly to do with him. It's Manmohan Shetty of Adlabs whom I've negotiated with. I know him since a long time. He's one of the most prominent film personalities and heavily clued into cinema. On a creative and corporate level, it's an ideal partnership. Today, the entertainment medium has become so powerful. The shelf life of a specific film has decreased while the number of films required to fill multiplex cinemas has increased. We need much larger quantities of software. Hence we need larger number of films to keep the industry going. Our idea is to channelize and corporatize the filmmaking process both financially and creatively.

    What kind of films will you make in partnership with Adlabs?

    See, film will be just a small part of our partnership. Initially we've identified ideas for 20 feature films. But eventually this partnership is not just about films but the entire spectrum of popular entertainment, from television to music....anything that entertains people. We've already designed some of these sources of entertainment. The rest is being worked out. We've just started working our business modalities. We've been in discussion for nearly six months...The intention is to grow as rapidly as possible.

    But you are a filmmaker and films will, therefore, have to be the pivotal part of the partnership?

    That would be the strategic build up. I'll take care of the creative part of filmmaking while Mr. Shetty's experience in exhibition will go into marketing. But eventually, we'll have to work much more closely. Today, filmmaking isn't just about shooting and releasing. You've to structure the marketing of a film.

    What sort of changes will this collaboration require from your Factory?

    We need to get much more disciplined if we intend to achieve the target that we're looking at. We may not be making the Ram Gopal Varma kind of cinema any longer. There will be a panel of people to decide what kind of films we make. I may not be allowed to be that whimsical any longer. For the first time, I'll have to be accountable about my creativity. I'll have to check back with my collaborators as to why I decide what to do. One has to be conscious not just of one's own creativity but what's required in the market. That's where my new partners might come in. Eventually, we're selling feelings not tangible products. We can never be sure.

    What motivated you into this partnership?

    The idea is to scale up my creative and business prospects as high as possible, and to do it as fast as possible.

    When would the first feature film from the tie-up occur?

    We're looking at two-three projects. The first should be ready early in 2006. Considering a few films here and there is too narrow a view of what we're doing here. Our big idea is to make a series of entertainment-related products. Otherwise why have such a big-ticket collaboration anyway? I think it's time to start seriously segmenting popular entertainment in this country.

    How will this partnership change you professionally?

    I see myself as more of a businessman now...though everything, including my own directorial project "Sholay", is on.


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