Parvez Damania turns passion for films into business

March 2nd, 2008 - 10:43 am ICT by admin  

By Jivraj Burman
Mumbai, March 2 (IANS) Entrepreneur Parvez Damania shocked his friends when he went into the aviation business days after the government ended its monopoly in the sector in the mid-1990s. And once again he has surprised them by venturing into Bollywood as a producer. Watching sensible movies in his spare time had always been his way of relieving the cares of the world. But the idea of making films occurred to him rather late, but not so late as to abandon it as wishful thinking.

The Indian aviation industry’s poster boy launched his production house One More Thought Entertainment (OMT) in partnership with Azam Khan early this month. OMT has signed nine directors and announced 12 movies in the next two years.

“We chose the directors first because they were the people who gave shapes to films. We gave them a free hand to decide the kind of films they wanted to make within the parameters of our objectives,” Damania told IANS in an interview.

The directors on board are Kundan Shah, Sangeeth Sivan, Ravi Rai, Jagmohan Mundhra, Ashwini Chaudhary, Mahesh Kothare, T. Rajiv Kumar, Sashi Sudigala and Ajay Chandok.

If all this while, Damania did not pursue it as passionately as his other business enterprises, it was essentially because he thought the market was not ready for the type of movies he wanted to make. And Damania wanted to steer clear of the run of the mill.

One more reason why he held himself back was that he was not fully abreast of the economics of moviemaking. It was only after his brother Vispi and he met Khan, who was one of the top executives of the Kay Sera Sera film company, that their thought took realistic shape.

Khan had his finger in the entertainment business long enough to know the inside of it like the back of his palm. After a few meetings with the Damanias, he offered to join hands with them as it became clear that his perceptions about moviemaking matched theirs.

Early on, they decided they would not be a part of the rat race, but would rather chart their own course in Bollywood. It was on this premise that their banner came into being and their first project to be released was the Marathi film “Tingya”, produced by Ravi Rai and directed by Mangesh Hadawale.

“We started small by acquiring the rights of the Marathi film ‘Tingya’ and presenting it,” said Khan, executive director of OMT.

“Tingya” was made on a budget of less than Rs.3 million, but before the movie could be released, it went on to bag several national and international awards, so that the movie is now worth a few millions.

“Even if the film does not earn millions, the appreciation that we have received for backing such a true-to-life film has made it worth that much,” Khan said.

He also said money would not be the benchmark for the movies OMT would make. “We will evaluate a film’s worth on the basis of its content. But, broadly, the budgets for our movies in the first two years will range from Rs.20 million to Rs.200 million,” said Khan.

Besides Hindi, OMT will also make movies in regional languages, particularly Marathi.

Damania said: “Let me be very clear. Though our objective is to make film across genres, at the end of the day it is the market force that will decide our course of action. We will not pander to the market forces but go along with those.”

Since comedies are a craze now, Damania’s production house’s first Hindi release will be “Khalbali Hai Khalbali,” a rib-tickling comedy directed by Ajay Chandok.

The movie, slated for an August release, has as many as 30 characters, but the principal cast includes Nikhil Dwivedi, Sadaa, Johny Lever, Chunkey Panday, Rajpal Yadav, Shruti Seth and Govind Namdev. Sajid-Wajid has composed music for it.

After “Tingya”, Ravi Rai will start his next movie “Idgah” for OMT and it is based on Munshi Premchand’s story. The other movies he will be directing for the banner include “Bounce,” “Mr. Naidu, Do You Want More?” and a teenage movie called “Let’s Do It.”

Other directors are working on the scripts for their movies. Some will go into production this year and some next year. Yes, One More Thought is now on a roll. And so is Damania. Very much a Parsi, he loves to shock others.

His office on a narrow lane off Veera Desai Road in the northwest suburb of Andheri in Mumbai is located in a labyrinth. Unless one is led, it is difficult to know where the numerous passages lead.

At the reception room, the first person one meets is a drunk, lying spread-eagled in a corner after having had a peg too many. It is only after a closer scrutiny that one realises that the “person” whose sozzled presence has made one feel queasy is actually a dummy of a drunk, very life-like. Thank you.

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