Now, a feature film by ISB students
Bitten by the filmmaking bugs, MBA students from the Indian School of Business have now made a feature film starring Anupam Kher and Mahie Gill amongst others.
Ravi Agnihotri, Abhishek Mohunti, Sandeep Goel, Pritika Idnani, Manoj Nuthakki and Nithin Ramachandran are all MBA students of the famous Indian School of Business (ISB).
Along with 23 others, these aspiring MBA grads have registered a production house called Friday Night Productions and produced a film that has been shot on their campus.
It was their dream to make a film before they left ISB -- one talking about contemporary issues in the country.
The film, Buddha in a Traffic Jam directed by Vivek Agnihotri (of Chocolate and Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal fame) stars Anupam Kher, Pallavi Joshi, Viveck Vaswani, Arunoday Singh, Mahie Gill and introduces Anchal Dviwedi.
It also stars over 570 students from ISB.
Ravi Agnihotri who is the moving force behind the venture, tells us, "We wanted to create a venture which is profitable and sustainable. We thought if we could make movies, which entertain and convey a message and create wealth why not? We wanted to do something, which could bring about change.So like-minded students pooled in the seed money and started Friday Night Productions."
Then came the question of bringing in investors.
Image: The team of 'Buddhia in a Traffic Jam'
'Business study helps structures, thought processes'
The team found an investor in Suresh Chukkapalli. "He was happy with our presentation and agreed to invest under the banner of Phoenix Multidimensions," Agnihotri says.
Agnihotri and his friends then started looking for a director. The task wasn't difficult because Agnihotri had known of Vivek Agnihotri (who directed Chocolate and Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal) when he was associated with a a citizens' initiative to against the use of plastic.
As it turned out the filmmaker was also a guest a guest lecturer at ISB too. The choice in a way was obvious.
Like true business students Ravi Agnihotri and his classmates look at the film as a product that needs to be sold effectively.
"We will apply business fundas and come up with whatever innovations we can. Business study helps structures, thought processes and teaches one to ask the right questions," he says..
So, they got involved with the movie from right at the outset -- discussions and debates followed before the script written by Rohit Malhotra was finalised.
Anupam Kher instantly said yes to the film and he loved the title. Getting Mahie Gill raised the brand equity of the project.
Image: Anupam Kher on the sets of 'Buddha in a Traffic Jam'
'The film mirrors the agony of the deprived in India'
Director Vivek Agnihotri tells us that the film is a political thriller but has a message at the end.
"We're trying to speak the truth -- an uncomfortable truth," the director tells us. "I see the common man stuck in a traffic jam. I see the chaos, the clutter created by the market and media and the jam. So I felt I have found my Buddha meaning a boy/girl who wants to bring about a transformation in society."
Buddha in a Traffic Jam is the tale of Vikram Pandit (played by Arunoday Singh), a student at the ISB who is the blue-eyed boy of Prof Jamshed Batki (Anupam Kher).
The film mirrors the agony of the deprived in India. Vikram offers a solution which can effectively bypass red tape and political hurdles, how a radical business model can effectively replace stagnant policies, how a collective will and might of monetary resources can yeild fast track results.
Image: Actor Arunoday Singh
'The common man feels trapped'
However Vikram gradually realises what he is up against and has to find a way out of the cesspool where even his life is at stake and everyone around him is a suspect.
Anupam Kher, one of the lead actors in the film says: "We are at crossroads, the common man feels trapped -- due to the system with globalisation and marketing. The title, Buddha in a Traffic Jam, is unconventional but appropriate for this film."
Pritika Idnani who is one of the students associated with the movie recounts the production process: "The days are long, the nights are short. It has been a learning process for us too. I have been interacting with the students by requesting them to be volunteers to act in the film since it is set in the college," she says .
Nithin Ramachandran's interest in social entrepreneurship and bringing about change made him enter this project.
He had earlier worked in Intel where he played an active role in the CSR wing having assisted in disaster management during Bihar floods. Needless to say, making a movie with a social message excited him.
"Initially we wanted to make a documentary but we thought the reach will be limited so we thought of a feature film instead."
Image: Director Vivek Agnihotri
'Niche movies get me interested'
Enthused by the Jaago re campaign, Nithin felt that youth can do something.
"I worked on a business plan and was involved in local production. I acted in the film too. My work will begin now when we have to do the marketing and publicity on social media and all," he says.
Manoj Nuthakki, an ex Microsoft employee who has been working on a day-to-day basis on the sets and also involved with marketing says, "We feel film business is glamorous and people are inaccessible, but they all interact and are awesome people. Cinema has the power to make a huge impact."
The students are mighty excited with the movie and are hoping to screen it overseas too.
"We may want to screen it in Wharton, Harvard and other business schools," says Agnihotri says hopefully.
However he, like the others, isn't sure if the movie will be their first or last.
Sandeep Goel for instance says says that there might be another one in the making, he says they'll probably play it by the ear.
"We will be producing more films depending on the concepts we get," he says.
Image: Actress Mahie Gill