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FOX STAR STUDIOS: Redefining success and changing the game

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With Rajkumar Hirani’s SANJU creating history at the box office by entering the prestigious 300 crore club in its third week and minting a whopping 316+ crores in India. Fox Star Studios, the production house that presented and co-produced the movie is now enjoying the position as the No.1 Studio in India. The key man behind all this, Vijay Singh – CEO Fox Star Studios is still calm and composed as he strikes the pose of triumph. There is a feeling of jubilation in the air as the elated and overwhelmed Vijay Singh greets me with a positive banter. After formal greetings, Vijay Singh speaks honestly from the heart about the success of the film, how FSS became the no. 1 production house, how it feels to be No. 1, entering the 300 crore club, the applause, the future, the trend, the challenges and more...

Did you know SANJU would reach this far?
Rajkumar Hirani is a master writer-director and we were very excited when he narrated the story of SANJU – we knew it had all the ingredients of a massive masala Bollywood entertainer with a message. Audiences were eagerly waiting for Raju-ji’s next film and we knew that we had a brilliant film that will be embraced by audiences - but no, we did not predict it to become the big hit it has!! The love for the film has been overwhelming… the journey has been so special, so spectacular and just spectacular!!

Fox Star Studios has changed the game this year with SANJU
As a studio we are poised at a very exciting stage - to have delivered the no. 1 movie of the year with SANJU at a time when we have become the No 1 Studio is very very special and helps us validate our strategy so far!!

SANJU is currently the 5th biggest Bollywood film ever and since it is still in theatres, I do believe that it will go on to become the No 3 biggest film ever in Bollywood’s history!!

Interestingly, all the other films ahead of us were released either in the holiday period or were part of a franchise. SANJU on the other hand was a non holiday release and it has yet shattered several records - the biggest first day opening, highest weekend, topped Pakistan, bagged second position in overseas and the numbers are still coming in!!

It’s a terrific feeling to be amongst the top all time grossers of Bollywood, entering the 300 crore club, becoming the company to back the no. 1 film of the year and being no .1 production house for the year till date.

The learning after the unfavorable period during 2015?
Yes, of course there have been many learning, the biggest one being that it all starts with the content. There is greater realization within the industry that it pays to invest whatever time is needed on the script. Having done that, the next challenge is to make sure that the film is produced in the right budget. Stars are important and help open a film but the lifetime of a movie depends on the strength of the content. The scenario in marketing and distribution is changing rapidly and digital is becoming the key differentiator. The other learning is that going forward its all about collaborations & partnerships!

Right now what is on floors?
Right now we have four films on board as we talk. THE ZOYA FACTOR, a comedy starring Kunal Khemu, KIZIE AUR MANNY – an adaptation of the worldwide hit The FAULT IN OUR STARS, and an intense drama thriller INDIA’S MOST WANTED directed by RajKumar Gupta, starring Arjun Kapoor.

On one hand we concentrated on improvising and making better content in house, and on the other hand we tied up with like-minded creative production houses - we are very proud of our alliances with Dharma Productions, Sajid Nadiadwala, Vidhu and Raju Hirani. EK LADKI KO DEKHA TOH AISA LAGA, STUDENT OF THE YEAR 2 is ready to hit the marquee later this year and TOTAL DHAMAAL is poised to end our year on a high note. Working with Dharma and Sajid has been rewarding and in coming year we are extending our wonderful partnership with KALANK, HOUSEFULL 4 & Nitesh Tiwari’s next film.

There is a complain amongst independent producers that corporatization brings sophistication, funds and infrastructure, better code of conduct but somewhere they compromise on content and go with the flow.

We have our share of learning’s and are constantly keeping ourselves open to learning – I believe we have achieved our No1 position as a result of being conscious of the changing audience preferences.

Your understanding of the audience and his preference
The audience has always been smart. Movie watching is no longer the only option available for entertainment for consumers. The consumer has several more options of content and platforms and therefore any content must capture the consumers share of the mind - you have options on your phone, desktop, drawing room even on social media networks like playing candy crush. So, it’s all about how to use your time and we, as a production house needs to understand how to capture the imagination of the people. Previously most of us in Bollywood focused only on the Hindi audiences, but BAAHUBALI changed the outlook and there is a greater realization today that we all need to create content for a pan India audience!

Why there is such a gap in regional cinema and commercial Hindi cinema?
We, as a production house are fully aware about the potential of regional cinema. In fact we made a significant mark in Tamil when we collaborated with Dhanush’s KAAKA MUTTAI, which received international acclaim. As said earlier, we had an agenda in our mind to consolidate our position in Hindi cinema and become the No.1 production house, now that we have gained the position after tremendous hard work and brainstorming, now it’s the time to open gates for other avenues and we will be surely coming out with interesting plans in regional cinema as well.

Is money, figures the only criteria for success?
Certainly not! As a Studio, we understand that in the business of entertainment, if we do not offer ‘entertaining films’ we won’t have a viable business!

After SANJU, which will be the one that you are banking on to enter the coveted ‘crore’ club?
We are very excited with our next releases later in the year - TOTAL DHAMAAL, which is hugely anticipated and has an amazing story and cast.
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