‘TV will continue to be our bread and butter; films will be our juice’ – Beyond Dreams CEO Yash Patnaik

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Beholding dreams in his eyes, Yash Patnaik came to Bombay with mere Rs 800 in his pocket. Like most newcomers to Mumbai, his dream was to make it big in the film industry. And like most people he had to route his dreams through the world of television.

 


After working with TV software production company Fireworks (makers of CID), for a period of seven years, Patnaik decided to move beyond.


 


This gave birth to his baby Beyond Dreams, which he started with his wife Mamta Patnaik. From starting anew with just Rs 800 to running a company with 70 people, the company is now close to completing a year.


 


In an exclusive chat with Businessofcinema.com, Yash Patnaik talks about his journey, his million dollar movie on Buddha, future plans and more….


 


Excerpts:


 


It is getting close to a year since Beyond Dreams started off. How has the journey been so far?


It was a little scary in the beginning because Mamta and I had left our comfort zones. I was not sure if I will get another job if I failed at this. But we knew we had age to bounce back on.


At Fireworks I was virtually running the show in all regards. So when we approached channels with our content, we were welcomed and 9X gave us our first show.


 


Your second show is with Zee Next. Why is it that you are working with newer channels?


It is very natural for a newer production house to approach newer channels. When a new channel starts, more slots open. In an existing channel a lot of shows are already running and there is a queue also, so not many slots are available. With new channels you can start the queue. And if you are really good, you will be considered.


 


Newer channels also understand that when a new production company starts, they have more years ahead of them than they have behind. So that worked in our favor.


 


Since you have been associated with TV for so many years, producing TV content under your own company is a natural call but how did films happen?


Whoever comes to Mumbai either wants to be a director or an actor. I came here to direct feature films. TV was a compromise to start with. But I began to realize that TV is big too. It has its own drawbacks and limitations in terms of canvas, story telling, characterization and implementation.


 


In feature films you are not forced to follow a trend, it is about your conviction. The life of a well-made movie is much longer than that of a TV serial, which is over in one telecast. We have the knowledge of story telling, we have the speed of TV and a vision of feature films, and this makes for an amazing business sense.


 


So at Beyond Dreams is the inclination more towards TV content or films?


TV will continue to be our bread and butter and films will be our juice.< Page Break >


 


Now that you have your own company, would you want to finally direct a movie and fulfill your dreams?


No, I don’t think so. I would rather create some good talent and give opportunities. We have signed ex Maya head Wilson Louis for three movies. He has earlier directed a supernatural thriller called Ho Sakta Hai.


 


Can you share some details about the movie Wilson is making for your company?


Our first movie to go on the floors will be a small budget movie worked upon by Louis. We are also making India’s first horror live action animation film. It is budgeted at Rs 5-6 crore. We are working with Pix N Trix for the visual effects of the film. It will go on the floors in March in Rajasthan. This movie will be made in three parts over a span of two years.


 


The reason we chose to start with a smaller film is that in a big film chances of both success and failure are very high.


          


What is the status on the movies on Lord Buddha’s life?


We have signed Shyam Babu, the writer and the research team in Sri Lanka. The research part is almost over. For reference we have a script from Robert Bolt, who is one of the biggest names in Hollywood . We are just two months away from putting the first draft together. Once that is ready we will be approaching people (not clear).


 


We are also doing research on what is the recoverable market for these films, because these are huge films. The recovery market is not India alone, India is a small part. There are more than 300 million Buddhists all over the world. China has 10 crore Buddhists, India has less than one crore. So we are talking to a lot of people in Hollywood and China.


 


We are also planning to rope in international talent as far as cast and crew is concerned.


 


In terms of story, technicalities and budget can you elaborate more on the film?


The narrative is simple. The visual effects will be the types that blend seamlessly. Beyond Dreams and a Sri Lankan based company Light of Asia Foundation jointly came up with a concept, which has not been told in the mainstream worldwide. It is a brand that has been there for 2500 years but never explored fully. There have been 22 movies in and around Buddha but no one has attempted to tell it in entirety.


 


The story has romance, sabotage, family fights, conspiracy, war and is very good for the celluloid. It is a story with a good beginning, middle and end. The budget will be anywhere between Rs 50-90 crore. We are looking at releasing the movie in May 2009. It will be shot back to back for four months in Sri Lanka.< Page Break >


 


It was recently reported that the movie’s director Shyam Benegal is in talks with Hrithik Roshan. Since the movie is targeted largely at the international market, how important is it to cast a star?


We do not limit our casting to stars per se. But if there is a star who is also a fantastic actor, he will fit the bill.


 


Moreover, in the film we will show Buddha’s life from the age of 16 till the time he died at the age of 80. So to encompass such a journey, the age of the actor should fit in.


 


Which company is backing you with the investment?


Beyond Dreams is a venture between us and a global investment company called Atherstone.


 


Don’t you find it risky to not have backing from a single Indian film entertainment company yet?


From the time we held a press conference to now, we have been approached by a lot of people in and outside India, but we are exploring opportunities. We do not want to sell the movie in bits and pieces.


 


In India we are looking at a good production company and a distribution company, the creative will be taken care of by us. Internationally also we have offers, but if we get an Indian company that has the capability to match the marketing and distribution standards then we are willing to partner.         


 


So is the actor going to be signed first or the production and distribution company?


It makes more sense to sign the actor first.


 


Will TV require more investment or movies?


It is a misconception that TV needs less money. You need more money for TV than films.  


 


Moving ahead, what other areas would you tap?


We would like to do some children’s films. We strongly believe that it is huge market that can be explored. In Hollywood , children movies like Spiderman, Harry Potter and Finding Nemo are far more budgeted than regular movies. When we make movies here, we allocate one percent of those budgets. We have a Devdas of Rs 50 crore and Rs 30 lakh worth children’s films. Whereas for a children’s film you get four times the audience if you invite one.


 


I think we have produced only one good children’s movie in the history of Indian cinema, Mr. India! In India we select a children’s film story keeping a low budget in mind. Be it Nanhe Jaisalmer, Blue Umbrella or Bhoot Uncle.


 


Kids are at least 20 generations ahead of us, so our movies also have to be that much ahead. Look at the way ads are made these days, all of them have kids in them from TV to laptop to refrigerator to detergents. Kids decide what will come in your house. Kids control almost 70 per cent of your expenses. India has 30 crore kids, so why can’t we make a movie allocating just Re 1 per kid?  


 


When are you looking at announcing your new slate of movies?


We will not announce any new movie now. We will finish these first. Buddha will take a lot of time.


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