In conversation with a producer and a CEO, Ritam Bhatnagar

6 min

An electronics guy, with a management degree, studied marketing, and ended up making films and mobile apps who also teaches MBA students. Isn’t that funny? Today on, we are presenting story of a producer and a CEO- Ritam Bhatnagar. Ritam is mainly known for his contribution in Gujarati cinema and entertainment field. He has co-produced two Gujarati movies, has worked as an associate producer in one movie and distributed 4 movies. Ritam has also founded India Film Project, which is the largest film making event of India. Besides all this work in entertainment sector he also run a mobile app development firm. Isn’t it amazing? Let’s know more about him. Scroll down and read our exclusive interview with Ritam Bhatnagar.

Share your experience with Gujarati films you’ve done.

Ritam Bhatnagar
Ritam Bhatnagar

I’ve always believed that there is no reason why people won’t accept a Gujarati film. Each of them has been well received by the audience. The reason was, earlier, the films were made for a very different audience, with which, we, the urban audience, couldn’t relate. Now, the scripts are very much written keeping in mind the urban households/characters. We can relate to it. That’s what it needs. And that’s why all of them worked!

On what factors do you decide budget of a film?

With a film, the budget is decided keeping recovery in mind. Because Urban Gujarati film industry is still in a juvenile form, there are no set standards for recovering money. Like, there are no major rights sold, so the producer has to make the film in shoe-string budget, because the only source of revenue is theatrical ticket sales. Usually producer’s reserve 70% of their budget in production and about 30% for marketing out of their total budgets.

What is the most challenging task of a producer of Gujarati film?

The right script. In an industry which is just growing up, its very much needed to take films to more and more people. There is a shortage of good writers and directors which according to me is going to be a crisis in near future. There is no shortage of finances, apparently and surprisingly!

What is the current scenario of Gujarati cinema?

The audiences have been divided into two – The single screens and multiplexes. What works in single screens doesn’t work in multiplexes and vice-versa. Though not a good sign! Single screens are usually filled with community based films, having a rural backdrop. Whereas, the new surge of “urban Gujarati films” is only targeted soulfully at SEC-A and A+. It might take few years to merge the audiences, of course, only content and marketing can do it.

With coming young directors, where do you see it 5 years down the line?

Freeway EntertainmentFreshness and concepts are two things young minds will surely bring in. I hope to see a Hindi film being remade from a Gujarati film. I am sure good concepts can do that. It’s already happening in Marathi cinema. In next five years, Gujarati industry will churn atleast 2-3 films every month.

We have Tamil and Telugu films going on in India. When do we see a similar revolution with Gujarati films?

Not exactly. The reason Tamil and Telugu industry works is very different than what we think. Gujarati is lingually very similar to Hindi, hence a Gujarati understands Hindi well and might find it worth to spend Rs. 200 ticket on a Hindi film which offers better entertainment. However, with Tamil and Telugu films, the dialect is an issue as not many people from those states are able to understand Hindi. Hence, the only option for entertainment with them is to produce films in their own language. Though, Gujarati films may soon reach the heights achieved by Bengali and Marathi cinema.

You’re doing so many things. Tell us about your experience as a CEO of a technology firm.

It’s like driving two mopeds simultaneously. Half of my mindspace and time is spent on working on films, the other half goes for my mobile app, wWhere. I am not a person from IT, hence I have to learn so so much in mobile, technology, Apps, etc. I have already been reading more than 30 techblogs daily. Driving a tech-product team, at a shoe-string budget, isn’t an easy thing for sure! But I am loving doing these two things 🙂

What is India Film Project? Why did you initiate it?

India Film ProjectIndia Film Project, IFP as we lovingly call it, is a project very close to my heart. In just 3 years, it’s India’s largest filmmaking event, attracting more than 7000 filmmakers till now. In 3 editions, we have had more than 600 films made in just 50 hours. Isn’t that wow? Our youngest participant has been a 4 year old boy and eldest being a 72 year old ‘kaka’. Housewives to students to CAs to RJs to doctors to rickshaw drivers, from 42 cities across 4 countries, all have been part of IFP teams, and they return year after year. People like Shoojit Sircar, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Vikramaditya Motwane, Sanjay Gadhvi, Nikhil Advani, Bejoy Nambiar, etc. have been part of IFP in past three years. The WOW thing is that we are a team of only 6 people who do this on-ground + online event!

Share some statistics of IFP.

We have had more than 7000 film makers in past three years who participated and made more than 600 films in just 50 hours. These people comprised from 42 cities across 4 countries. Our first edition had almost 60% participants from Gujarat, which has gone down to 25% in 2013 edition as the national participation increased. There have been 15 winning films in past 3 years.

If you need to pick between your technology firm and the things you’re doing in Gujarati cinema, which one would you pick? And why?

I can’t leave either of them. Working with Gujarati films is my passion. Making a successful mobile app which solves the basic problem of addressing is a dream to chase!

What’s your future plan?

Right now, the entire force is behind wWhere app prototype. Apart from that, I am producing and distributing few Gujarati films this year. I plan to soon begin with Hindi film distribution along side, but continue producing Gujarati films!

Share some tips for the readers of and aspiring film maker.

One thing I have learnt over the years is, and I make sure I speak it during my every guest lecture is that – There are many many pessimists and very few opportunists. Being a opportunist in middle of pessimists is itself an opportunity not to be missed 🙂 This applies not only to filmmakers, but to each and everyone who is trying to do something new!

What do you think about

A very much needed medium for bringing more openness to stories. I am sure the huge popularity of speaks for it.

Thanks a lot Ritam Bhatnagar for your words. We wish you all the best for all awesome things you do in future.

Nishit Jariwala
From being a wannapreneur to being a nobody, life now makes sense | Living the dream