Abhishek Sharma – The Budget Conscious Debutant Director
Posted by Editor on October 18, 2010 | No Comments
Abhishek Sharma – The Budget Conscious Debutant Director Tere Bin Laden was one of those films that came out of nowhere and became a commercial success in India. Here we talk to the director of the film Abhishek Sharma. That rare breed of directors, whose first time film, was a big commercial success and to top it all, a producers dream come true, he actually challenges the budget of the film….downwards !!!
1.Congratulations on the film, clearly it has done wonderful business in India. Did you realize you are getting into controversial territory when you made the film?
Thank you it is heartening to see that it has done well not only in India, but also in UAE, Australia and some other parts of Asia too. As a team we did not anticipate that we would have this kind of an issue with Pakistan (that the film was initially banned), cause there is nothing in the film that is insensitive or offensive against any person or any country.
2.Is this your first feature film. How did this film come about ?
I graduated from National School of Drama (NSD) in Delhi, India, in 2001 with a specialization in Direction. After that I did a lot of theater in Delhi, but wanting always to be a filmmaker, I started making a few short films.I shifted to Mumbai in 2004. While I was very confident about my filmmaking ability what I really wanted to learn was the film business in Bollywood ,which is one of the biggest film business center in the world. With that intention I joined ADLABS in Mumbai. Not only is that one of the biggest labs, but is also into distribution and co production. In the four years that I worked there, I learned a lot about the business side of the films. Simultaneously when the idea of the film came to mind, I started working on the story and the screenplay. In 2007 I pitched the idea to Pooja Shetty ,was also my boss at that time, in ADLABS. Pooja liked the idea, however, at that time she was leaving the company and forming another one named, Walkwater. I joined Pooja too in her departure and we took with us, this film concept.
3. You said you learned the business side of things, but did you not challenge that same business sense by going against the flow and not casting stars in your film ?
That is exactly the point. The conviction that I could do this without stars was because of the business knowledge. This is a huge myth that for a film to work, you need to work with big stars and you need to have XYZ budget. The thing is we are basically in the business of entertainment and what I learned in my four years, was the concept called the Purchase vs the Recovery.Every story in this world can be made commercially viable, if you are pricing your product right and the way you entertain through your story, and the way you publicize and market it, if that is correct. That is what I learned. We have only 5 stars on whom you can get a big opening. The saying is that we have very few hits in Bollywood, that is because the whole business model has grown outdated. The star system is good, but it cannot be the only solution. If you need to make cinema, you need to have a parallel business model, something that has been done in Hollywood for a very long time. In fact Hollywood has taught the world that you can make big blockbusters without stars. That is something we now need to wake up to. This is now becoming quite a trend in Bollywood, of first time directors making a profitable film. Simultaneously with TBL was Urdaan and earlier in the year, Love, Sex and Dhoka, both of which did well in the budget vs recovery model. You need to know your market, your target audience, your budget constraints and with that knowledge a viable business film can be made. Also decisions like how many prints you will come out with and decisions to be considered. That is what we have been able to do in this (TBL) case, correctly. Not to say, you can’t fail, you can fail in both the star based or non star based films. Most importantly where we went right was the script, the story, we worked hard on that. We were very correct on the pitch of the film and the marketing of the film. I’m also one of the few directors who was constantly trying to cut down my budgets with my producers. As a director you need to understand that to make profitable films for your producers.
4. What are your upcoming projects?
To be honest, my only focus during this process has been TBL and I was not thinking of any other concept, while TBL was coming out. Because I am a writer director I now need to take a break and think about a concept. As a director it is my job to be with the film till the time it gets released.