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Business meets Bollywood

SANGEETHA DEVI DUNDOO
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Focus Students of ISB form a production house, and their first film is a political thriller

Talking cinema Ravi Agnihotri, Sandeep Goel and Abhishek Mohunta PHOTO: K. RAMESH BABU
Talking cinema Ravi Agnihotri, Sandeep Goel and Abhishek Mohunta PHOTO: K. RAMESH BABU

T he atrium of the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, is deserted, save for a few students grabbing a quick bite before heading to the next class. Seated among them is Arunoday Singh, who is keen on accompanying them to the next class. The actor, along with his co-star Mahie Gill, has been attending marketing and finance classes with the ISB students.

The actors are on campus to shoot for Friday Night Production's maiden film, a political thriller directed by Vivek Agnihotri. The film is the brainchild of the current batch of ISB students who are passionate about movies.

Ravi Agnihotri, who initiated Friday Night Productions, worked with Nokia for five years before joining the business school. “Irrespective of whether the students come from finance or other backgrounds, they unwind talking about cricket and Bollywood. In this we saw a potential business opportunity,” he says.

The yet-untitled film is the first to be produced by B-school students and shot inside a B-school. “The actors stay in the ISB student villages, attend classes with us, dine in the same canteen and even attend the same parties,” says Abhishek Mohunta, whose strength is in operation and project development. Abhishek has also done a filmmaking course in New Delhi and is a self-confessed audiophile: “Anything to do with home theatres, audio and video technology interests me.”

Twenty nine students are part of Friday Night Productions. “Each student comes with his or her own expertise and is helping with fund raising, marketing, operations, logistics, distribution and other aspects. We leave the creative aspect to the Bollywood experts,” says Ravi.

Ravi and Abhishek's batchmate Sandeep Goel, who has previously helped many start-ups, feels that this initiative will help students apply their business knowledge in a creative process. “The last few years, the budgets of films in Bollywood have grown so much because of corporates. The industry is going through a transformation,” he points out.

The students are clear they don't want to make the mistakes that corporates do — producing films at a budget of Rs. 50 crore to Rs. 70 crore. “Many forget the basics of cost-cutting the minute they step out of a B-School; good concepts rather than big budgets and stars make a good movie,” emphasises Ravi.

Ravi knew director Vivek Agnihotri for a few years and approached him for this movie. Vivek's previous films, “Chocolate” and “Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal”, haven't set the box office on fire, but the students are not worried. “‘Chocolate' was an intelligent film that was ahead of its time. And if ‘…Goal' had been released during the FIFA world cup, it would have done much better,” reasons Ravi.

The film also stars Anupam Kher, Aanchal Dwivedi, Pallavi Joshi and Jayant Kriplani. The students promise it won't be a “boring, educational documentary that gives gyaan, but a dark comedy that's emotionally and intellectually stimulating.”

Abhishek underlines the absence of interference from producers in this film. “A lot of movies have great scripts, but the end result is different because of interference. That won't happen here,” he says. Sandeep pitches in, “We are making a film for the niche segment and will finish it within the stipulated budget, plus or minus two per cent.”

Plans are on to take the film to international film festivals before releasing in India. As for Friday Night Productions, the team hopes this is just the beginning. The present batch completes its tenure at ISB in March and hopes to keep the production house afloat with the help of the next batch.

SANGEETHA DEVI DUNDOO

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