Bollywood's leading names turning producers is but commonplace now — today, almost every big name in B-town is known to back film projects. But what's also interesting is that the television lot is now following suit even as more and more TV celebs turn producers. To add to this, they are not hesitating from backing regional projects — be it films or TV shows.
Indeed, after years of romancing the camera, many of these TV actors are now calling the shots from behind it. So while JD Majethia, Smriti Irani, Anuj Saxena and Shabbir Ahluwalia have already made their foray as producers, the new lot of stars-turned-producers includes Sai Deodhar and Shakti Anand, Karanvir Bohra, Amit Sarin, Rahul Raj Singh, Vrajesh Hirjee, Karan Kundra and Ashish Sharma, among many others.
The next step
So what made these actors take up production and that too for regional cinema? Karanvir Bohra, who has produced the Punjabi film, Love You Soniye, along with wife Teejay Sidhu, says, "I come from a production background, so it was always there at the back of my mind. I wanted to make this film for my wife, Teejay, who loves Punjabi films. Besides, one can make a small investment in regional cinema and get bigger returns." The actor apparently spent Rs 2.3 crore and the film earned around Rs 3.75 crore with its satellite rights yet to be sold.
Sai Deodhar, who is co-producing the Marathi film, Sata Lota Pun Sagle Khota, too has her filmy background to thank for her entrepreneurial streak. "Coming from a film family, I always wanted to do something in production. The poster of our first Marathi venture will be released soon and we are in the process of scripting our next film. My mother has directed our first film and I thoroughly enjoyed the entire process," she says.
But why a Marathi film and not a Hindi one? "Hindi films have a huge spectrum, but I believe in going ahead slowly. The budget in a regional film is flexible; it's quite low when compared to Hindi films. In any case, I have started working again after a gap of four years, so I am just enjoying this phase where I get to be an actor and a producer."
Exploring new markets
Actor-turned-producer Anuj Saxena says that Hindi films are an expensive proposition whereas regional cinema is at a nascent stage, as there are just a few corporate players in the latter market. "Regional cinema will definitely grow in the coming years. I have produced films in Kannada, Gujarati and Malayalam, and I am also producing a few regional shows," he says.
Vrajesh Hirjee agrees. The TV actor was initially not convinced about venturing into television production, but he changed his mind later on. "I realised that Gujarati cinema lacks good content and I had the opportunity of providing better content, so I took a step forward. My show, tentatively titled Hirjee Ni Marjee, is not on air yet. But being a Gujarati, I understand the market and I know some talented people who deserve this chance to display their skills," he says, adding that while the show's budget is yet to be finalised, it won't be very high.
Tapping an opportunity
Actor Rahul Raj Singh, who has already produced a Bhojpuri film, is now looking at making a Hindi and a Bengali film. "I produced a Bhojpuri film because at that time, Bhojpuri films were doing really well. Now I am producing a Bangla film because my mother is a Bengali and I think I can make a good Bangla film with relevant content. This apart, I will produce a Hindi film."
Karan Kundra has no qualms about pointing out that regional films are easy to make and promote. The actor, who is all set to produce a Punjabi film, says, "In regional films, the budgets are not that big; things can be managed more easily. Hindi films, however, are a different ball game altogether. I want to do things one step at a time, so I will start with producing a Punjabi film. But it's too early to say more right now."
TV actor Ashish Sharma, best known for his show, Rang Rasiya, has already produced one TV show. "The budget of our show, Chore Tera Gaon Bada Pyara, was less than a lakh and we broke even, though we didn't make much profit as it was our first venture. But now I am in talks with a friend to produce a Marathi film and I am also about to produce another show under my banner, Desi Fillum Productions Pvt Ltd," he says.