Exclusive: Nikkhil Advani On 6 Years Of Emmay Entertainment, Threat Calls, Baazaar And Much More

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Are you a fan of the film Airlift or the TV series P.O.W. – Bandi Yuddh Ke? Or are you looking forward to Saif Ali Khan starrer Baazaar? Well, if yes then you should know that all of it comes from one mother – Emmay Entertainment.

A production company owned by Nikkhil Advani, Monisha Advani and Madhu G Bhojwani has always been inspired by the real-life stories. The company has entered in its sixth year of operation and has given some entertaining shows in many formats, whether it be TV series, web series or films.

Business Of Cinema had an Exclusive interview with the owners – Nikkhil Advani and Madhu Bhojwani. They shared with us things about their upcoming projects like Baazaar and Lucknow Central. Here is the full interview:

  1. Emmay has come a long way. How does it feel?
  • Madhu: It feels good. We are in our sixth year of operation and hopefully with two releases this year, we have done six full-length features which is a very good average of one film a year. Then we have done a mega TV show and two short films. Also we have done a web series which is Mini Truck which was launched on May 18 with its first episode. So I think we are very very happy with the progress that we have made so far and we are hoping that we have now made an inflection point and you will see some good Bolly work from us in the next six years.
  1. What was it that triggered you or convinced you to start your own production company?
  • Nikkhil: I think it is very important for a film maker to be able to have a control over his creative work. And I think that working with independent producers I was not getting that kind of platform and the ability to have that control. So I picked up the phone and talked to Monisha, my sister who is also the co-owner of Emmay. So I was like, I have the contacts, I have the ideas, I have the ability to convince people to do a film, but I don’t have the control over how the film is made. So I convinced them (Monisha Advani and Madhu Bhojwani), saying ki bahot maza ayega (It will be a lot of fun). But soon they realized that it is not only fun but a lot of hard work also. What allowed us to do it, was our first film D Day which got the kind of critical acclaim which other films rarely get. Even today it is positioned as a game changer when it comes to thrillers in the industry. It cemented our relationship with all the actors that we have worked with in D Day – Rishi Kapoor, Huma (Qureshi), Irrfan (Khan), Arjun (Rampal) and it allowed us to do the kind of work that we are doing today. Even though Katti Batti did not work but it still gave us the confidence to work with an outside director and do Airlift, which Monisha and Madhu did single handedly, because I was busy with other films. It got critically acclaimed and almost got a National award. Because Akshay, we don’t know he got for which film! Commercially it is a very big film. It has got such a nice story and it is content driven.
  1. Share something about your first production venture. Any interesting incident that happened?
  • Nikkhil: Ohh it was D-Day but whether it is our first venture or it is our sixth venture, every day is interesting because continuously we are working. We are challenging ourselves and each other. She (Madhu) has her reasons why we are making films, Monisha has her reasons and I have my own reasons why we are making a film and sometimes those reasons may not match. So the interesting thing is that we have the ability to constantly question each other and then somewhere reach a consensus which will be seen on the screen by the director and through the production.
  1. Your films have certainly done well. But your TV show POW has garnered huge appreciation from people. So, do you plan on making more such TV shows?
  • Madhu: If the right concept comes along and we have the right platform, then we certainly will. I think doing POW for TV was a phenomenal decision, for a creative work for production and for us as a company. The star cast was a fantastic panel to work with. But of course not to say that we aren’t developing stuff simultaneously, we are. And perhaps as and when the time is right, we will certainly do more shows for television.
  1. Tell me something about Lucknow Central, your next production venture. It hasn’t been much in news.
  • Nikkhil: It is purposely not in the news. We make films very quietly. We do not like to make a big hoo-haa. It is only with Baazaar that we have done something like putting the poster out and all that because Baazaar is that type of film. It is about Bombay. Bombay is a city which is all the time in faces, bigger than everything, larger than life. It’s about money, greed, ambition, values, good v/s evil. On the other hand, Lucknow Central is a true story. It was actually an article that Ranjit (Tiwari), the director came to me with and then we passed it to Madhu and Monisha. It’s about life imprisoned inmates in Lucknow Central jail in UP (Uttar Pradesh), who basically want to escape and what things they do to escape.
  1. What about mini-truck, the web series? It sounds very interesting and the first episode has even Katrina Kaif.
  • Madhu: As a company we are very media agnostic, as they say. We like to entertain through our content. Whether it’s a TV series, whether it’s a web series, whether it’s a film, I think we now have the privilege of done it all. Mini (Marthur) is a very dear friend to all of us. We have a common interest which is the love for food. We had this idea and this concept. So we thought that we should do it for web and we have access to the stars. So let’s marry all of that and hence we came up with this and Mini Truck was born. The reason that we decided to do it on a truck is because we wanted it to be mobile. Food trucks are the rage currently. We were like let’s give it a shot and it turned out to be noble concept and we had a lot of fun producing that show.
  1. Baazaar created quite a buzz with the poster. Saif Ali Khan looks intense. Anything that you want to share about the film?
  • Madhu: The information that we want to share is already out on the public domain. There is Saif (Ali Khan), we are launching a new boy Rohan Mehra and then there is Radhika Apte who has recently joined the star cast. So, right now this is the information that we can put out. Radhika is one of the female leads….

Nikkhil cuts in and says, “She is the main female lead.”

  1. What kind of content do you aim at producing? Any specific genre or any age group that you target?
  • Madhu: We are very genre agnostic and I think you can clearly see that from our filmography. We certainly want to make films that are content driven, that the audience is entertained by. For a lot of our content the seed is set in real life, we are very inspired by the events around us. So whether it’s a film like D Day, or Airlift or even Lucknow Central for that matter, those are the kind of films you will see us making. For instance, while POW is inspired from Hatufim (Israeli Drama), Nikkhil took it back to associating it to Kargil war which became the backdrop. So, in that sense we are very inspired from real life incidents.

Nikkhil: We believe that more interesting stories are in real life.

  1. What do you think about the growing industry? Do you think it is still lacking into something when it comes to producing quality content?
  • Nikkhil: No, I don’t think so. I think we are doing wonderfully well with content. There is great content coming out from big production companies. For instance, Baahubali is from a production company of Hyderabad. Making it on such a scale and then marrying with a production house of Hindi film industry and turning it into a more than 1000 crore film. Whether it is that or whether it is with the same production house with something like Dear Zindagi. I think whether it is Dharma or Yash Raj or any other production house, this is the best time of film making. You can make TV shows, features, web series, you can do anything. Earlier, writers used to be shy coming up with a new subject thinking ki kaun banayega (who will invest in making this). But now films like Pink, Neerja, Airlift get made. So I think that the growth of Indian film industry has been phenomenal. We have widened with the subjects and the audience is like we want more and more of such subjects. One week they will go and watch Golmaal Returns, they will laugh and have fun. And the next week they will go and watch something like Lucknow Central, which will also entertain them but also they will take back something as the film is about deems, aspirations and freedom.
  1. There were reports of you and Saif’s talent agency receiving threat calls from someone? Were the reports true?
  • Nikkhil: I am glad that you asked this because I would like to clarify on this. We didn’t receive any threat calls. There were certain kind of e-mails that were received by Saif’s agency. And we just helped them out of that. Because after D Day I had a lot of security protection. So I had the ability to pick up the phone and tell him that get help from cyber police. So, the reports were only half true.
  1. Any new TV series, film or any other project that you are planning to go forward with?
  • Madhu: Currently, nothing on the cards. But of course we are developing content in house. So as and when the right opportunity comes, people will certainly see us doing more stuff on television. Not in the immediate future but surely sometime after.