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A combination of stars and stories is the need of the hour: Viacom18 Studios’ Ajit Andhare

Character franchise will be big in India in future

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MUMBAI: A fireside chat between Viacom18 Studios COO Ajit Andhare and Film Companion founder and editor Anupama Chopra at The Content Hub 2020 saw him talk about discovering new stories and new talent as well as the need for studios to be open for stories coming from everywhere. 

Andhare finds regional cinema an exciting space. It is far ahead in experimentation compared to Hindi cinema. Directors down South are willing to take creative risks.

Andhare, when asked about revealing the secret behind choosing a movie, said, “It is actually reacting to what is happening around you. You instantly respond to the material that you identify with. You only go with stories that make sense to you and that has been the approach. One also needs to do something which is meaningful as well. I think the earnest approach is responding to instincts and also making an effort to look sideways other than only the front.”

When asked about keeping box-office the priority Andhare said, “We do think of box-office but at a later stage. The first thing you see is the consumer and for theatre-going audiences, Bollywood actors are at the heart of the universe of films, you cannot take that away from them. But today you cannot just go with a star-led project; it is also important to look at the content. Even the star needs a story. A combination of stars and stories is the need of the hour.”

Andhare also shared his thought on Intellectual Property (IP) becoming bigger than the actors playing a character. He added, “Today Singham or Sooryavanshi the entire franchise is clearly attracting a lot of stars in the project. When you look at other conventional franchises like Dhoom, they may be doing a series of films but look at the amount of business they are making. We are clearly moving the franchise way. It is a constant effort between studios to develop franchises. However, we are at the stage where a character is not the franchise like in the case of Hollywood movies such as Spiderman or Superman. It is the concept that is a franchise. Eventually, we will get to a point where franchise only of a character will become the big idea.”

According to Andhare, the biggest challenge is to try to answer the question of what is working. “With this, you are not bringing your instinct you are just trying to second guess the formula of success,” he said.

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