“I paid my entry fee through Dil Maange More” – Nikhil Panchamiya

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Producer Nikhil Panchamiya is ready with his second film Anthony Kaun Hai? Made on a budget of Rs. 100 million (Rs. 10 crore), the film again has Munnabhai M.B.B.S. stars Sanjay Dutt and Arshad Warsi in the lead. It s slated for July 28 release all over. The Bombay distribution right has been acquired by Ramesh Sippy and Rakesh Sippy of Raksha Distributors.

Nikhil Panchamiya’s maiden film was a light romance – Dil Maange More directed by Ananth Narayan Mahadevan. Whereas Anthony Kaun Hai? is a thriller and is directed by Raj Kaushal of Pyaar Mein Kabhi Kabhi and Shaadi Ka Ladoo fame.

Panchamiya had learnt his baby steps in Bollywood 10 years ago while working for Nitin Manmohan’s Neha Arts as a fourth assistant manager which used to take care of his pocket money. He graduated to executive producer and then finally became a producer with the Shahid Kapur – Ayesha Takia film Dil Maange More.He spoke to Businessofcinema.com correspondents Johnny Vaz and Ashok Anchan on the economics of his film. Excerpts:

What went wrong in your previous release Dil Maange More? What was the budget, prints released and total business ?
Dil Maange More was released on 31st December 2003 with 80 prints and budgeted at Rs. 66 million (Rs. 6.6 crore). It was an average grosser. I recovered a little as I had sold my film on M.G.(Minimum Guarantee basis). Waise Bhi with my first film I did had to give an entry fee. I am still fighting for the recovery from C.P.Berar, C I. and Rajasthan territory. You will not believe your ears that the film was released four weeks lated in my home town Dhanbad in Bihar. From there you don’t even receive the proper collections of your film.

Why did you choose Raj Kaushal as a director for Anthony Kaun Hai, considering that his earlier films, Pyaar Mein Kabhi Kabhi and Shaadi Ke Laddoo, didn’t fare very well at the box office?
I agree that his earlier films didn’t do very well, but people still remember those films even though they weren’t successful. They’re still in the hearts of the audience and that proves that Raj Kaushal’s films succeeded in making a mark with the audience. He also gave Bollywood an actor like Dino Morea thanks to Pyaar Mein Kabhi Kabhi. Besides, the director alone is not responsible for the success or failure of a film. There are plenty other contributing factors too. I am confident on Raj , his script and his capabilities as a director. I will call this as Raj’s biggest break.

What made you decide to make a thriller after your first film, which was light and frothy? How did the idea to make this film come about?
Firstly as a producer, I’d like to make many films on different subjects. After Dil Maange More, I was sitting home doing nothing for 15 months, I realized that I was making profits but in a minimal manner and not a big one. I tried to calculate what went wrong inspite of having experience as production manager and executive producer. At that time Raj Kaushal came with Anthony Kaun Hai, a thriller. Raj and I have known each for ages – since the time we worked together in Mukul Anand’s banner MAD Films. When Raj made Pyaar Mein Kabhi Kabhi, I had looked after the production. After Dil Maange More, I was looking for a story for my next film. Raj came to me with this subject and I too liked it. He further earnestly admitted that Anthony Kaun Hai would be his last chance. I liked his frankness and no doubt he he has put in everything into this film.

Your film stars the success duo of Munnabhai MBBS Sanjay Dutt and Arshad Warsi. Did you cast them looking after the success of that film?
For the character Anthony we wanted a performer who would look like a conman, so Raj approached Arshad gave him the narration. Raj told me that Arshad Warsi had really liked the script and wanted to be in the film. As for Sanjay Dutt, Arshad was the one who suggested him and he fits the role perfectly. Sanjay Dutt is an assassin, wherein he plays a totally negative character, dressed in Armani suits, driving a Ferrari, carrying a laptop, drinks wine and deals in cheques. You can call it a coincidence that they’re both together after Munnabhai.

Why you chose foreign location like Bangkok? Was it to increase the production values?
I chose foreign locations because it was the demand of the script. Secondly we could work without any disturbance. It was fun shooting in Bangkok. All my artistes and technicians were present on the locations much before the shooting commenced. I will not forget Sanjay Dutt’s kind gesture. He always used to shell out for our dinner bills during most of the shooting schedules in Bangkok.

You shot Anthony Kaun Hai in Bangkok, but how did Sanjay Dutt manage restriction to travel abroad because of his court case. Did this affect the shooting of your film? Yes, there were a few delays, but we used the time to work on and improve the script a little bit more. We scheduled the shooting in such a way that we were able to make the most use of our time, which is why we were able to wrap up the entire shooting in Bangkok within 40 days.

What is the budget and the ratio?
The budget of Anthony Kaun Hai is 10 crore and I am marketing it at a ratio to 2.5 – 3 crore. It will be less for the smaller territories.

What price did you get for music rights?
All knows that there is no market left for music thanks due to piracy. Now the audio is clubbed into a good package with overseas and video rights. Thanks to my music director Himesh Reshamaya I got a good price from T-Series which I do not want to disclose.

It is inevitable that your film will be compared with Munnabhai…
I don’t think anyone will compare Anthony Kaun Hai to Munnabhai. That was a comedy and this is a thriller. In Munnabhai, Sanjay Dutt and Arshad were friends, whereas in my film, Sanju is a contract killer who abducts Arshad for information on someone he is looking for. The stories of both the films are completely different. Neither Sanjay Dutt nor Arshad Warsi have used the Bambaiyya Hindi dialect. The only similarity is there is an item number.