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Interview Hindi Marathi

Vivek Rangachari: DAR aims to be seen as a serious player in the business

The producer behind DAR Motion Pictures spoke with us about his previous experience before films, lessons learned in the business and the upcoming projects he’s excited about.

Sonal Pandya

In 2009, brothers Vivek and Arun Rangachari began their journey in the world of film production by setting up DAR Motion Pictures. By the next year, their films Lalbaug Parel (2010) and City Of Gold - Mumbai 1982: Ek Ankahee Kahani (2010) were released.

2013 was landmark year for them with D-Day (2013), Mickey Virus (2013) and The Lunchbox (2013) all hitting theatres. The latter became a worldwide success, premiering at the International Critics' Week at the Cannes Film Festival and landing a prestigious Best Foreign Language Film nomination at British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA).

Critically acclaimed films like Ugly (2014), Monsoon Shootout (2017) and Haraamkhor (2017) have followed. and DAR has continued to produce regional films with Baji (2015), and Bucket List (2018) starring Madhuri Dixit.

We spoke via email with producer Vivek Rangachari about setting about DAR Motion Pictures, surviving a decade in the movie business and what their upcoming projects look like. Excerpts below:

You set up DAR Motion Pictures with your brother Arun in 2009. What made you both get into film production?

We made our foray into media and entertainment in the form of an investment in an entity that is now known as UFO Moviez, the market leader in digital cinema distribution in India. That gave us our initial exposure to the industry and we felt encouraged to have a larger presence in the same. Hence DAR Motion Pictures was set up with an idea to produce and distribute the kind of films that we believed in.

You were an engineer and later an investment banker, how does your expertise in these fields help you in film production?

Ultimately films are also a business stream and I find that my background helps me often in analysing numbers, be it in terms of the budget & ROI (return on investment), or the box office. Also risk analysis and the ability to look at opportunities in an objective fashion is something that I am comfortable with. It's maybe bolstered by my background.

In an interview, your brother had said, "The day we stop learning and say we’re satisfied with how we are and where we are, we will fail." What lessons have you learnt in film production that you've taken from your first film to the latest one you're working on?

My brother Arun was very right when he made that statement. For us at DAR it has been nearly a decade of continuous learning, some of the projects that we believed to be sure shot success material did not go on to exactly meet our expectations while on a few occasions we've seen the reverse happen i.e. projects we weren't too confident of doing well ended up doing better than expected.

So while we haven't yet come up with a perfect formula (I guess no one really has one) we've tried to continuously evolve as a production house and bring ourselves up to date. We've also realized that one needs a good mix of projects, a few that are slightly bigger in terms of the people involved (actors and/or director) and more mainstream in terms of concept, while a few others maybe more high on concept and not necessarily big in terms of the people involved. But all said and done one thing is important, the film needs to be commercially viable.

You've backed lots of independent films like The Lunchbox (2013), Ugly (2014), Monsoon Shootout (2017) and Haraamkhor (2017) that have travelled the world. Why was it important for you to take on these different kinds of stories under your banner?

We felt that each of these projects were unique in their own ways in terms of concept and the director's approach. These were films that looked right for the discerning audience and hence we felt that we ought to back these films.

What do you look for when selecting a project to produce for DAR?

It has to be a) appealing to us internally in terms of being an interesting concept b) have a good USP of sorts c) commercially viable.

With streaming services becoming a strong competitor to the theatrical market, do you think it's a threat or a welcome platform for films that wouldn't have an audience otherwise?

Of course we definitely see it as a welcome opportunity as today there are indeed several projects that perhaps can be better off without the added pressure of meeting box office expectations etc., and yet reach out to the target audience in a relevant manner.

What can you tell us about your upcoming slate of films?

To start with, we are doing the Hindi remake of a Malayalam blockbuster called Bangalore Days (2014). We are also doing a biopic on Arunima Sinha, the world's first amputee to scale Mount Everest. Another of our forthcoming projects is Lovetreats based on the true story of a couple who were one of the pioneers in setting up an online portal to legally sell sex toys and related products in India. Some of our other projects include a biopic of a famous sports personality, a remake of a successful South Indian thriller etc.

Have you set up any more goals for DAR Motion Pictures now that you're approaching a decade next year?

For now we are looking at this phase as our 2.0 stage or our comeback which started with Bucket List (2018), the first ever Marathi film featuring Madhuri Dixit. We also have Photograph by Ritesh Batra, the director of The Lunchbox (2013). With these films and the films to follow, we aim to be seen as a serious player in the business, someone that is capable of striking a good balance of commercially viable and high-on-concept films.

What are the recent films you've seen lately (international or Indian) that you liked?

Unfortunately, I've not been seeing too many films in the past few weeks, but out of whatever I've seen I think I've definitely enjoyed Ready Player One (2018), A Quiet Place (2018) and Incredibles 2 (2018). I've also liked Indian films like Kaala (2018).