MUMBAI: Hardly six months into existence, Network 18’s motion picture division – Studio 18 – has witnessed a couple of top level departures.
According to information available with Businessofcinema.com, the company’s chief financial officer (CFO) Shibashish Sarkar and senior vice president international business and home entertainment Ashoka Holla have quit the organization. However, both resignations have not yet been accepted by the company. Sources inform that Sarkar is currently serving his three-months’ notice period.
While both Sarkar and Holla remained unavailable for comment, sources close to the development inform that the two put in their papers late last week. However, in an official statement, Studio 18 denied that Sarkar had quit. “He is very much the CFO of the company, and is currently on an overseas tour with the CEO, Mr Sandeep Bhargava,” said the statement.
Additionally, the statement added that Holla, has “expressed his desire to chart out an independent professional path. However, the company is engaged in deciding with him whether it may be possible to restructure the relationship with him for future assignments.”
Prior to joining Studio 18, Sarkar worked with companies like Godrej Sara Lee, Shaw Wallace, Hindustan Cables, UTV and Percept Picture Company. Holla, on the other hand, was first with Kodak and then with UTV Motion Pictures as their international division head before joining Studio 18 in October last year. He was overseeing the US, UK and UAE business of the organisation.
A source in the industry informs, “The company has got divided into two groups comprising the ex-Sahara employees and the others. The culture, knowledge base and pace of working between the two factions is completely different. There has been much adhocism in the functioning of the company with no clear vision, which is why many are considering quitting. There is no transparency and understanding.”
TV18 Group founding shareholder-directors Vandana Malik and Sanjay Ray Chadhuri are the creative advisors for Studio 18.
Studio 18 released 1971 recently, which did not work at the box-office though its overseas venture Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd was a success. Another couple of movies lined up for overseas distribution are Kya Love Story Hai and Awarapan. In India, the company distributed Vipul Shah’s Namastey London in the Delhi, Noida and Ghaziabad territories. The movie has done good business at the box office and is one of the very few movies that have been declared a hit this year.
Studio 18 is also co-producing Raj Kumar Santoshi’s Halla Bol and Ravi Chopra’s Bhootnath.
Additionally, Studio 18 has inked a two year co-production deal worth Rs 1 billion (Rs 100 crore) in November last year with Shree Ashtavinayak Films for four movies. However, sources inform that there has not been any significant movement on these projects. The filmmakers that have been signed in this deal are Priyadarshan, Abbas-Mastan, Rohit Shetty and Neeraj Vora.