HomeInterviewsExclusive: "I don't have deep pockets & I'm not ashamed of that"

Exclusive: “I don’t have deep pockets & I’m not ashamed of that”

Y.Sunita Chowdhary

Vijayawada born Vishnu Induri always did what interested and inspired him. The need to make money was never a dominant factor as much as making sensible and entertaining cinema. Having the independence to craft ideas and turn them into reality is entrepreneurship, which is what he has been pursuing all these years but he did have his low moments. Just when he is all set to release 83 and Thalaivi, the pandemic plays spoilsport. Having worked with people in the film industry and being passionate about films and film making, he always attempted and worked towards changing the perception of the film industry towards South Indian Cinema. In a freewheeling chat with Klapboardpost.com, Vishnu shares pivotal moments in his personal and entrepreneurial journey and states that henceforth we shall see a new Vishnu; he is going to chase himself and become better than he was before. No biting off more than he can chew and to balance his work by also making small films. Vishnu Induri

Academics: As a child, I wanted to go to the USA for academics and return. That was the time when there was a young man from every family becoming an engineer and flying to America. I didn’t have anything particular in mind and my father too gave me the freedom to decide what I wanted for myself. I have a brother and a sister, I am the oldest. My maternal grandfather Jasthi Ranganayakulu was a politician and I must say his impact was more on me. I would visit  him every holiday. When I was in school, I was the best cadet in the National Integration Camp, active in extra curricular activities too. Back in America, I was very sure I would return home. Even while I was studying, I would visit India. People mostly would return only after getting a job or completion of education. I would be here as many times possible and within three months of going to the US, I came up with a company in India. I began travelling every 45 days and the subsequent years, I would be in India every fortnight. There wasn’t a direct flight, I had to reach via Mumbai and the constant trips made me tired. Actually travelling every semester was taxing and that was never my cup of tea so I gave up my last semester to do business.
I realised the educational consulting companies who are middle men would never give right information to the students and I started Bharat Student Dot Com. Many of my classmates came through the consultancy. Once they reach the USA, they would change the university as they dont get the right info about it. I noticed that the aspiring students need proper guidance and I came up with the first social networking site in india. At that time there was no Facebook and from 2001 to 2007,we had 5 million subscribers .

Diversifying Business: I never had the experience of working anywhere, I came up with this start up while studying. I learnt lessons by trial and error and I must say it was a good experience. Being a general secretary of the school alumni helped. I had a good rapport with peers and students and was always there for them. It was all good for a while. After Face Book came in, a UK based company evinced interest in the company and I sold it to them. I wanted to exit at that point of time. I did tv production parallelly and Local TV happened. I collaborated with producer Swapna and I think it was ahead of its time and we couldn’t sustain it. It was a good concept. I would party and work hard. I used to be a social person but not anymore. Then I came up with CCL which was inspired from IPL, we were doing extremely good for 5 or 6 years. Later I tried doing bigger things. Every field has its ups and downs and in my case, I couldn’t carry all that weight. CCL would have continued to be a hit had it been operated by bigger corporates. I don’t have deep pockets and i’m not ashamed of that. You need deep pockets to sustain when you are sliding. We had partners but all of us couldn’t sustain it. It was good as long as it lasted, it has a great fan following even now and CCL videos have a huge viewer ship.

Dream Subjects: South India is treated as one entity by the rest of the country. Our South film industry is so huge and it contributes more revenue much larger than what other industries do. I was keen on launching an event under one umbrella and it became the highest viewed awards in South India. We have a website and voting is public. We try to get all award winners to attend the event but if a certain award winner is not coming, we still give it to him/her. No TV channel could sustain holding award shows, it isn’t an easy task to do regularly, every year. Each year is a new challenge and we have been holding the event in different countries. We started off thinking that it will help South Indian business grow. Movie producing idea? When I was in CCL, everyone was talking about films. I thought if I could get them to play cricket, why shouldn’t I tell them the most inspiring story of Indian cricket? I wanted to make a film on the 1983 World Cup. I approached Kapil Dev, he was hesitant and thought it was too early to tell the story. I collaborated with a writer and Kapil Dev loved the idea and it took time to get commercial. I can do small things, but I always wanted to make it big. I like to do things on a large scale, whatever it may be in life. I also planned the biggest film in the country, it took so long to get the right cast and partners. In this journey I had made sacrifices and at the end of the day, I wonder if it was really worth taking so much stress and pain in making something happen. We were excited to release 83 in April last, and Thalaivi in June last year. Due to Covid, everything went for a toss. For 83, we have a studio, but Thalaivi is an independent production. There was no studio backing and as a producer making a film during pandmeic at that scale in multi languages and holding it for so long is a painful journey. The response for the trailer made us forget the pain.

No respect for producers: I always had family support. My dad, a lecturer, has always been giving me moral support. In this journey, you have a lot of challenges. We get a lot of offers and business collaborations and it is easy to settle down as a studio head or something but as I said, I opted for something big. My thought process has changed during this pandemic and it has taught me a lot. We take things for granted, if things go wrong, one needs to have Plan B. This is what I was taught during this period. Everyone makes film and benefits but the producer is the last one to receive the money, last one to be acknowledged. Producers are not getting the due respect they deserve. The producer is the one who is doing the sacrifice. Earlier, the producer would groom the project and finally go to the hero. He was also a technician and had a control on all the crafts but after a while he became Mr Money Bags. I belong to the old school of filmmaking. My wife runs Siima, she is the chairperson. She is also the creative producer of Thalaivi and is my biggest support. All these years I always did bigger things than what I could actually afford. These two films will definitely place me in a better spot than earlier and henceforth I will plan for a rainy day too.

Support from Better-half: My wife Brinda is a Telugu born and brought up in Tamil Nadu. and thought Jayalalitha’s story had to be told to the world. Jayalalitha was an inspiration to millions. I could have compromised and done small films in Tamil and Telugu but our vision is to tell the story to the entire country. The film is about how she became a strong powerful leader. The film deals with a super star, what she went through to become a revolutionary leader. We wanted to tell an inspiring story and as a family had to sacrifice a lot when Thalaivi happened. We had to put in everything that we had and a couple of friends came forward to take it along. Usually in films, you have a budget and financiers are funding you, distributors paying advances. No producer puts in 100 percent film cost. Due to Covid, we don’t know when the film will hit the screens. The distributor does not know what is in store for him. We had to complete the film and keep it ready. The response of the trailer was overwhelming. We forgot all the pain we went through. It was indeed challenging to make a film of this scale and time. Once we saw the promo, we were very happy. I feel this film will be appreciated all over India as it has all it needs to be a commercially classic film.

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