‘I was helping a friend out’: Ishari K Ganesh on Gautham Menon and 'Enai Noki Paayum Thota'

Producer Ishari K Ganesh   | Photo Credit: R Ravindran

Ishari K Ganesh is a happy man. His fortunes could not have been any better, especially at a time when Tamil film producers are crossing their fingers, and keeping a bold face, amid the many colossal failures mounting at the box office every week. According to him, three of the four films which released under his production company’s (Vels Film International) banner in 2019 — LKG, Comali, and Puppy — have been a success.

“There is no other business like the movie business. But it does require you to be honest, dedicated and has to be pursued with love,” Ganesh says, adding, “There is no big secret to my success. I have been investing in really good content because, in my eyes, content is the hero.”

An edupreneur, Ganesh is someone who would call funnelling money into Tamil cinema as investing in his family business; his late father, Isari Velan, was an actor-turned-politician who had shared screen space with the likes of MG Ramachandran. But it was his nephew, Varun (who played the lead in Puppy), who Ganesh credits for drawing him back into the business of producing films. “Otherwise, I would not have entered movies,” he laughs.

Up next for Vels Film International is the much-anticipated and much-delayed film by Gautham Vasudev Menon — Enai Noki Paayum Thotta (ENPT). Ganesh’s intervention in helping the film release (it has been marred by financial troubles for over three years) is seen as a godsend by those associated with the project. Excerpts from an interview:

Dhanush and Megha Akash in a still from ‘Enai Nokki Paayum Thotta’

Dhanush and Megha Akash in a still from ‘Enai Nokki Paayum Thotta’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Why did you offer to release ENPT?

Gautham is a very good creator. I love all his films, and I have known him for over 10 years. I knew that ENPT had gone through financial hell, and so I agreed to help after Gautham requested me. I watched it and loved the film. Dhanush has done a fantastic job in the film.

What were the terms of settlement?

I have to make it clear that I did not negotiate a settlement with anyone. I have only offered my banner for releasing ENPT. In exchange for my help, I signed Gautham for a new movie. He took the advance, and paid off the dues connected to ENPT.

Is that film ‘Joshua’ with Varun?

No, Joshua was already underway. The other film is a project for which we have signed Anushka [Shetty] to play the lead.

Why were comparisons drawn between ‘Joshua’ and ‘Yohan’ (Gautham’s proposed film with actor Vijay which did not materialise)?

I think because the titles sounded in the same mould. Joshua too has been shot in foreign locations like Yohan was supposed to have been. Maybe, that is why. But these are two different films. Even Gautham clarified it. Joshua is an action film with romance. We plan to release Joshua on February 14 next year.

Tell us about Mookuthi Amman, and how Nayanthara came on board...

It is an interesting story. RJ Balaji was telling Nayanthara about this story over a friendly conversation. She loved it, and he playfully asked if she would act in the film, and she said yes.

A poster for ‘Joshua’ starring Varun

A poster for ‘Joshua’ starring Varun   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Why make an Amman film now? It seems out of vogue...

It used to be in vogue some 15-20 years ago. I think that was also the last time we saw an Amman film. Now, every other film that comes out is a pei padam (horror films), and it is boring. So, if an Amman film comes out now, it might actually do well at the box office. Also, I have faith in the fantastic content that Balaji has written.

How are you able to make the distinction between which films to invest in and which ones to pass?

It helps that I am a cinema lover. My hobby is to go to the theatre to watch all kinds of films, good or bad. I watch the bad ones to figure out why they did not work at the box office. Besides, I am a good judge of a filmmaker’s potential. I also have a team (managed by his nephews Ashwin and Varun) that helps me make the right call.

You have been making stars out of nobodies, and turning a big profit on small-budget films. When will you step up to the big leagues?

My dream is to make a film with a big star on a reasonable budget. I have been in talks with several people. There is work underway, and we will make announcements soon.

So, running a tight ship is what makes you different?

We do not believe in paying over the odds. We do not underpay as well. We settle people’s dues before they ask for it, and that is respected. When we sell our films to distributors, we do not quote unreasonable prices, or ask for a refundable advance over the minimum guarantee price. That is why there are distributors knocking on our doors to buy our films.

Besides good content, what else is required to make a film click?

A film that is not promoted adequately, or does not get the right release date will not work. There are release date issues in Tamil cinema. It needs to be streamlined. No two big films should release on the same day because it will only kill the small budget films.

Finally... Gautham also made an announcement on Dhruva Natchathiram (DN), on the same day it was revealed that Vels would release ENPT. Can you confirm your involvement in DN?

There are no concrete plans as yet. Gautham tells me there is still some shoot left, and he will need another two months for post-production. He will start work on it after Joshua is finished. I do not want to commit to DN just yet.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2021 6:45:51 AM |

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