MUMBAI: DAR Motion Pictures is relatively an infant. Formed just a couple of years ago, it has produced films like ‘Haunted 3D’, ‘Dangerous Ishhq’ and Marathi films like ‘City Of Gold’ and ‘Lalbaug Parel’. 2013 has been a huge year for them though, with three films at Cannes. Among them, ‘The Lunchbox’ received rave reviews and adulation from the audience too. ‘D-Day’ too has been performing well since its release last week.
Amidst this hustle-bustle, producers Arun Rangachari and Vivek Rangachari sit down with BusinessOfCinema to discuss DAR Motion Pictures’ films and business plans.
BOC: First of all, congratulations on ‘D-Day’.
Vivek: Thank you. It’s been well-appreciated by the audience and critics.
BOC: What were your expectations from the film and have you got that?
Vivek: Yes, absolutely. It had certain parameters in terms of showcasing. It was very well-made. That is what we intend to portray DAR Motion Pictures as. We’re proud of the fact that we’re behind this film.
BOC: Seeing that ‘D-Day’ released just a week after ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’, which also had a patriotic theme, didn’t you worry that it would affect your film?
Vivek: I personally feel two movies can co-exist in today’s scenario because there are a lot of screens, lot of shows. And to be honest, we chose the date six months ago. 19 July was decided in December, and ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ also decided their date much in advance. Besides, leaving the patriotic theme, they’re two different films – from the showcasing and script point-of-view.
BOC: What are your expectations from your upcoming slate of films this year?
Vivek: We have high expectations from all of them. We also have smaller films like ‘Monsoon Shootout’ and ‘Peddlers’.
BOC: Are they releasing this year? ‘Peddlers’ premiered at Cannes last year…
Vivek: ‘Peddlers’ will release this year. We’re currently in talks with a distribution partner. ‘Monsoon Shootout’, if not this year, then early next year. Then there’s ‘Haraamkhor’ as well, another smaller film. When we greenlight any project, we look at whether it will be well-appreciated in whatever genre it is. It has to be made within a specified budget, that’s how we select films.
BOC: How has the reaction to the trailer of ‘Mickey Virus’ been?
Vivek: The trailer of ‘Mickey Virus’ has been very widely appreciated. It’s a very well-made urban comic thriller in the vein of ‘Vicky Donor’. The film is about a hacker, which is again not something that has been made.
BOC: But with ‘Fukrey’ just releasing recently, don’t you think the audience may think it’s the same movie all over again?
Vivek: By the time, ‘Mickey Virus’ releases, it’ll be 3-4 months since ‘Fukrey’. Also, I believe that if it is a well-made film, it should not be a problem. The only thing common between ‘Vicky Donor’, ‘Fukrey’ and ‘Mickey Virus’ is that all the films are based out of Delhi. The comedy is different from these films. There’s a thriller element to it too. The hacking element comes through that.
BOC: Coming to ‘The Lunchbox’, could we see an Oscar push for the film?
Arun: It was good to receive such attention for the film. We’ve managed to sell around 19 territories of the film, and these are non-Indian territories like Belgium and Luxembourg. Indian territories like Dubai, UK have already been sold. Plus Sony Pictures Classics is handling distribution in North America. So we are definitely going big with it, but the Oscar push, only the market will dictate. If it’s successful, if there’s call for it, then there might be an Oscar push.
BOC: Could you talk about the forthcoming DAR-produced films?
Arun: There is an adaptation of Farrukh Dhondy’s book ‘The Bikini Murders’ about Charles Sobhraj, then there’s the sequel to ‘Haunted’. and a Hindi remake of a small Tamil film as well. Beside that, we are also looking to release ‘The Lunchbox’ and ‘Mickey Virus’ this year. We’re trying for ‘Ugly’ too by December or it could go over in January.
BOC: Why the delay for ‘Ugly’?
Vivek: There are no dates. The entire release schedule is so packed. We’re still working things out. Besides, Anurag (Kashyap) himself is currently in Sri Lanka shooting for ‘Bombay Velvet’, so he needs to come back and then we will sit down and talk.
BOC: How do you walk the line between commercial mainstream and the smaller films?
Arun: There was this thing a person had told us when we had just started off in the film business, and it has always stayed with us. “It’s not the audience that fails a movie, it’s the budget.” So if a ‘Lunchbox’ is made at the budget of say, a ‘D-Day’, then of course that film will fail. I think most films can be successful, we just have to be careful about the budget.
BOC: So what do you go for while selecting your slate of films?
Arun: We have four types of films we want to concentrate on as a production house and we want to have at least one of each type a year. The first type is a tentpole film, like ‘D-Day’. Then there’s the youth-oriented film, like ‘Mickey Virus’. Then there’s the small film, like ‘The Lunchbox’, and lastly, there’s horror. Horror we believe is a very under-appreciated genre in India. Look at the horror films the world has been putting out in the last 5-10 years, it’s incredible. and our horror film output has been bad. So we have to set that right.
BOC: Initially, you produced a few Marathi films like ‘City of Gold’ and ‘Lalbaug Parel’. Do you intend to continue doing so, and will you branch out into other regional cinema?
Arun: We do want to focus on regional cinema too, like Marathi, Bengali, Punjabi… You can’t call Tamil cinema regional, because that’s a huge industry, maybe bigger than Bollywood too. We’re currently in talks for a few Marathi films as well as about to start off on a Bengali film.
BOC: Currently, you are more into production than distribution, but do you plan to get full-time into distribution?
Arun: It’s not like we’re completely away from the distribution part of business. We distributed three English films recently, big ones. We had ‘The Fast & The Furious 6’, and ‘Oblivion’ before that. We had ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ last year. We’ve also been distributing smaller Hindi films. We want to be an alternate, be it in production or distribution, to people who do not want to go the studio way, as in the ‘typical’ studio. Content is the key word here.
BOC: So aren’t you worried about something like the Rs 100 crore film club?
Arun: There are quite a few content based films in that club: ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’, ‘Barfi!’ and the biggest of all ‘3 Idiots’.
BOC: Yes, but they’re few and far between.
Vivek: See the type of films in the club. Sometime ago, who would have thought ‘Barfi!’ would have been in the list. You look at a film like ‘Aashiqui 2’. A film with two fresh faces almost made 100 crores. It was a 80 crore club film. Indian audiences are changing. Soon, such a club won’t be exclusive.
BOC: As a young production house, any lessons you have learnt.
Arun: Yes, so many. And we’re still learning. The day we stop learning and say we’re satisfied with how we are and where we are, we will fail. We need to be updated. Sometime ago, a film used to make money only from the tickets sold in theaters, but now with the music rights, satellite rights and the theater collections, revenue is quicker. Revenue systems are changing, there’s so much to learn.