Manoj Bajpayee-Aarti Chhabria starrer DUS TOLA may be promoted as Warner Bros. film, but it's a brainchild of Sushma Reddy & Sanjay Bhattacharjee. Yes you heard it right, Sameera Reddy's sister, the well-known model & actress, Sushma Reddy has turned producer with DUS TOLA in association with Sanjay Bhattacharjee, who has independently produced many prominent movies like AMU, BOMBAY SUMMER, MANORAMA SIX FEET UNDER, QUICK GUN MURUGAN, FROZEN & internationally acclaimed films, alongwith Aryan Bros. Sushma & Sanjay has jointly established a production company, Seven Island Studios Pvt. Ltd.
Recently we had a chat with actress turned producer Sushma Reddy, her visions for the company, the reason behind her shift in the career, her experience of a newfound role, etc. Here are the excerpts.
Tell us about your association with Sanjay Bhattacharjee?
About 2 years ago, I met Sanjay through one of my common friend Anand, who owns PhatPhish Motion Pictures. Sanjay was the CEO of that company. I was always curious about filmmaking, business, distribution, marketing and wanted to get into production sometime. When I met Sanjay we had exhaustive discussions and realized that we had a common goal. Then we happened to meet Aryan Bros. from Delhi, who from long time were seeking for an opportunity to penetrate into the industry. Aryan Bros. funded our project and that's how we associated. We established a production company Seven Island Studios Pvt. Ltd. last June, by November-December our film DUS TOLA went on floors and within 12 months period we completed the film and now our film is ready to hit the screens.
That was pretty fast
Yes. Once we decided upon it, we were quick in taking decisions.
It's very rare in the industry to see pretty girls taking up strenuous job. What really made you step in production or go behind camera?
I have done filmmaking course from NYFA, a well-known film school in US. I was always flirting to work behind camera. Not many are aware that I have also assisted Rajat Kapoor on one of his project, RECTANGULAR LOVESTORY.
Moreover Sanjay has a wonderful track record and background in the industry. He is well aware of the in & out of the industry. We share common sensibilities of working.
DUS TOLA is your & Sanjay's brainchild. It was initiated by you then why don't we see much of you in the promotions?
A lot is happening at Seven Islands. While DUS TOLA is yet to release, we have already begun our work on another domestic project NATIONAL ROAMING - a comic caper in the league of JAANE BHI DO YAARON, two international projects - THE STAMP COLLECTOR based on Vishwapriya Iyenger's acclaimed short story 'No Letter From Mother' and another film on a Tibetan family's struggle for survival. Further our international venture THE STAMP COLLECTOR was shortlisted at Sundance Film Festival. We have top Hollywood agents ready to work with us. We are constantly traveling. We have back-to-back projects lined up. All these things hardly leave any time for us to check what's happening on the promotion part. Though we are not involved actively but our co-producers Aryan Bros. & Warner Bros. are well pushing the movie ahead. And our name very well appears in the credits. It's just because of the time constraint we are not visible and people have their assumptions.
So at this juncture, what is more important for you - monetary gain or recognition?
Obviously both (laughs). But jokes apart, at present monies don't matter. We want Trade to notice us; we want producers & directors to notice the quality of our work. The kind of projects/work we are doing will speak about us. DUS TOLA has good production values. It was completed within stipulated time and allocated budgets.
What all challenges you faced as a producer?
SANJAY BHATTCHARJEE and SUSHMA REDDY
Learning is always difficult. We had to be on toes 24/7. It's not everybody's cup of tea. We had to be quick in our decisions. People have this notion of a producer to be relaxed and less of work & just minting money. But that's not the real case ki cabin mai baithey baithey phone call hi lete raho. On the contrary a producer's job is toughest. They are responsible for each & every task involved. Producers translate director's vision. They care, stitch the project and make everything possible. All said & done, at the end it's interesting, fun to be in front as well as behind the camera at the same time.
How does it feel to be on the other side of the table?
I think it's quite funny. I am not reactive. I don't feel it like big thing. But yes people do start taking you seriously and think Oh! She is much more than just a glamour doll. People's perception changes towards you.
Share us your & Sanjay's vision for Seven Islands
We want Seven Islands to flourish like the famous Hollywood production & distribution house, Miramax, especially for international projects. In domestic space we would love to have our Business model akin to Farhan Akhtar's production company Excel Entertainment. We like its functioning. Further Seven Islands believes in promoting newer talents, creative producers & directors, with a view to producing content driven, high quality cinema backed by the right talent. The focus is mainly on finding exceptional scripts based on award winning books and universal stories possessing unique content with global appeal. The aim is to capitalize on scripts based on well-known stories bringing an existing fan base and publicity.
Now that you have turned a full-fledged producer and set up your own production house any plans to make films for your sibling Sameera Reddy or casting her in any of the films?
'A producer's job is not to mint money'
No not at all. Seven Islands follows the thumb rule of merit. Whatever selection will be done it will be on merit basis and not under any influence or biased or preference. If there's any role which suits her we'll definitely cast her. As producers we overrule miscasting people.
What all steps are being taken to promote Seven Islands?
As I told you earlier our films will do the talking. Also we are doing international projects which in a way will give us huge exposure in the market.
Do you think film festivals give best platform to promote your films and company?
I think it's very important to decide who your target audience is. For the grand opening of international films you do need festivals. The crossover film concept is bad. I mean the word crossover itself is so bad, it means neither here nor there.
Tell us something about DUS TOLA
DUS TOLA is a romantic comedy & drama. It's a love story. Manoj Bajpayee plays goldsmith. He & Aarti Chhabria have done a fabulous job.
But Manoj is known for serious roles, why did you choose him for this role?
Director Ajoy Verma was clear from day one that he wanted strong performers for his film. And Manoj has essayed his part beautifully. He was brilliant in RAAJNEETI but DUS TOLA will add another dimension to his career.
Describe your overall experience & journey with your business partner, Sanjay Bhattacharjee
Firstly he's got good hands on experience working in this industry. He is very professional, dedicated & disciplined person. He's handled all his projects quite efficiently - completing it just in time within budgets. Sanjay & me kind of complement each other well. Sanjay and I have left no stone unturned in making sure that DUS TOLA turns out just the way we had envisioned.
Talking about our journey then it all started with the zeroing in on the perfect script for the movie, finding director Ajoy Verma, scouting for the actors and also finding the co-producers Aryan Brothers. And now that the release date of the movie is approaching, Sanjay and I are visibly ecstatic and are eagerly awaiting for the audiences' verdict. DUS TOLA is like our baby now.
- Rachana, Glamsham Editorial