Television

B.A.G Films chairperson & MD Anurradha Prasad

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She took a break from being a journalist to start her own production house - B.A.G Films - in 1993 along with her Member of Parliament husband Rajeev Shukla. Pumping in a modest (in today's world) Rs 40,000 from her own savings to start the company in a two bedroom apartment in Malvia Nagar in South Delhi, B.A.G Films chairperson and managing director Anurradha Prasad has no doubt carved a niche for herself today.

A post graduate in Political Science, Anurradha started her career in the electronic media as assistant producer at PTI TV for Money Matters. She then joined the Observer channel in 1990 as senior producer and eventually rose through the ranks to head the channel two years later. "At that point in time, I felt that I wanted to do more than what I was doing. Also it was getting a bit uncomfortable for me because of internal politics. I felt the need to take a break. At the same time, three of my colleagues at Observer also quit with me, so I felt responsible to start something of my own. That's how B.A.G Films came into being," Anurradha says.

But now, it's not just TV for B.A.G. The company also has its own media school - iSOMES (International School of Media and Entertainment Studies) - which it started in collaboration with Missouri School of Journalism, USA and offers a number of under graduate and post graduate programmes. Apart from this, the company has also entered into film production, FM radio (it recently bagged 10 FM licenses) and is also into providing content for mobile phones.

Her firm belief that content is king has led her to venture beyond television and work successfully with other media platforms, including films, broadband and video and IVR-based mobile content. Today B.A.G Films is the mobile-content supplier to Star, Airtel, Hutch and Reliance India Mobile.

Today Anurradha dreams of her company to become a content services brand that is a force to reckon with internationally. "When I started my company, I was able to come into media and do a lot of things that others couldn't think of doing. At that point in time people did not understand what television was. It was a great learning experience for me as well as a big challenge," says she.

Anurradha's contribution to Indian television has earned her several honours, awards and accolades over the years. She is a member of CII and FICCI Entertainment Committee. She is on the board of Uttaranchal Film Development Council, and is executive member of Film Producers Guild of India. She also has several papers on media industry to her credit.

While now the lady is mostly behind the scenes on the television front, she has in her early days anchored her first TV show Fact Sheet. In 1994, Ru-Ba-Ru, which was anchored by her hubby Rajeev, was launched on Zee TV and immediately rose to the peak of ratings, thus earning B.A.G Films its first super hit show.

In her early days in the media, she realised that this was a completely new world, which was dominated by men. "However, I learnt to use that to my benefit. The television camera was an object of awe in those days and it became my biggest tool," Anurradha confides.

When queried on her views on the television industry today, she says, "I have 100 per cent appreciation for the people in the industry. The fact that people have learnt the ropes so fast is commendable. The fact is that the medium and the people in it are young. The energy levels are high even if the experience is lacking. Also, the fact of the matter remains that whether the government supports the industry or not, it still is and will be the fastest growing industry."

One of the issues that is currently on her agenda is to make the government realise that the television industry is a part of the knowledge economy and hence all the support that the IT sector is getting, should be given to the television industry as well.

She is also of the opinion that the government should be providing tax holidays in the FM sector. "We as licensees have already coughed up almost Rs 10+ billion as licenses fees to the government. It doesn't make sense for us to pay more to them. At the end of the day, FM will also provide employment to a whole lot of people. The policy makers and the government have always treated the media and entertainment industry as a 'naach - gaana' company. It's high time they start taking us seriously. Also another issue is that the industry does not have a body like NASSCOM, which will push our issues to the forefront."

An avid reader, her 9 - 10 hours working day starts with almost 12 - 13 newspapers, which keeps her abreast with all the happenings in the country. Due to her husband's involvement in politics and cricket, Anurradha leads a very hectic social life rubbing shoulders with the likes of Shahrukh Khan, Priyanka Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi to name a few. She just returned from Abu Dhabi a fortnight ago, where she went to catch the cricket action live with her husband.

When asked to list out what her strengths and beliefs are, she says, "I think my strength is that I listen to a lot of things but at the same time that can be termed as a weakness too. I don't like wasting my energies in something that don't fall into my scheme of things. I am very focused. Also, I also don't believe in yapping too much about what we're doing. I like to keep a low profile."

An ardent fan of music, Anurradha used to be a voracious reader but now thanks to her hectic work life, reading has somewhat taken a back seat. Also a believer of Osho, she thinks that she is different from the rest in the way she thinks in her personal and professional life.

Not a person to run after anything and everything in order to be successful, Anurradha believes in the philosophy that "whatever is due to you, you will get."

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