B-Town production houses are now doubling up as talent managers

By The Hitlist Team

Bollywood production houses are going beyond just churning out films. An increasing number of filmmakers are not only giving a break to newcomers, but also managing the greenhorns and inking multiple film contracts (at least three) with them. Their mantra being if they give freshers that big break, selling them and making them stars, they need to bound them in a contract — at least for a while. However, every production house has its own set of rules. Some don’t insist that when a fresher signs a contract, he or she can’t work with other banners, while some make their discoveries shell out a certain percentage of his or her earnings through endorsements and other film offers.

The talent list of Yash Raj Films includes stars like Anushka Sharma, Ranveer Singh, Parineeti Chopra and Ayushmann Khurrana. They all had to sign multiple film deals with the production house. Heropanti actors Tiger Shroff and Kriti Sanon signed a multiple-film deal with Sajid Nadiadwala’s production house. Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani’s production house has also signed multiple film deals with actors. Filmmaker Aanand L Rai is also apparently planning to set up a talent management division under his production house.

Even as many leading filmmakers make an inroad into talent management, industry experts point out that as the idea has worked in the past, more and more production houses are following suit. Trade expert Amod Mehra says, “Even in earlier years, talents were bound by contracts for a specified number of years. Madhuri Dixit had entered into a contract with filmmaker Subhash Ghai to do multiple films. As this module had worked then, production houses now understand the benefits that accrue from contracts.”

Fair business module
Film producers, who have entered the trend of talent management, believe that it is an innovative way to not only help the talents in getting big opportunities, but also help the production houses that put a lot of hard work to promote the talent. They also believe that the concept is here to stay for long.

Ramesh Taurani calls himself the pioneer of the trend. “I had signed Shahid Kapoor when I launched him in Ishq Vishk (2003). Amrita Rao, who played the lead opposite Shahid, had also entered into a multiple film deal with us then. I think if production houses unearth a talent and market them in a way to make them the biggest stars of the industry, it is only fair to enter a deal and work with them for a few more films,” says Taurani. The producer believes a production house is unsure if the first film of a talent would work or not and thus this multiple-film sign module came in place. Taurani adds, “Producers take a lot of risk of risk by launching and marketing new talent. Also, if the film becomes a hit and the talent becomes popular, the production house should benefit from it, too, by working with him or her again. It is an innovative and fair business module and therefore production houses and talents are getting into it.”

He adds, “I will be launching two new actors next year and they will also sign a multiple film deal with us.” Sajid Nadiadwala, too, believes that new entrants have to be “hand-held” at the initial phase of their career. “It is a big responsibility to launch a new talent as they need constant support and guidance through their initial phase. They adapt quickly, but they need to be guided in the start till they understand the workings of the business.”

Help at hand
While producers believe that it helps them, talents also seem to be benefiting from this trend. New actors, who do not have a godfather in the industry, find a backing from a known production house once they enter into a deal. Varun Sharma, best remembered as Choocha from Fukrey (2013), will next be seen in Rohit Shetty’s upcoming film, Dilwale, sharing screen space with Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol. He had been part of Ritesh Sidhwani’s production house when he began his career. Commenting on why it is important to have a known production house backing a new actor, Varun says, “Debuting with a big production house is any actor’s dream. When I found the backing of Excel, my dreams came true. For new entrants, it is important to associate with the right people because they teach you not only about the process of making a film, but also mould a talent’s career and growth.”

Beyond contracts
While many production houses have endorsed the idea of multiple film offers, other big players, however, do not endorse the idea. Some production houses believe that one does not have to enter a contract to continue working with artistes.
Amrita Pandey, VP and Head of Marketing and Distribution, Studios, Disney India, says, “We believe creative collaborations go beyond contracts. When the creative community sees the studio adding value and being a positive anchor for the movie, it leads to continued working relationships. We’ve collaborated with Aamir Khan on seven movies — from Rang De Basanti (2006) to Dangal for which he is currently shooting. With Shah Rukh Khan, it has been from Swades (2004) to Chennai Express (2013). We are now distributing Dilwale in international markets. We have collaborated with Ranbir Kapoor on several films right from Wake Up Sid (2009), Barfi! (2012), Raajneeti (2010) to his recent release Tamasha and his next film Jagga Jasoos. We have also worked with director Anurag Basu (Life in a Metro (2007), Barfi!(2012) and his next Jagga Jasoos).”

Filmmaker Mukesh Bhatt, whose production house is known for launching new talents, is also against endorsing the idea of contracts with artistes. “We are not interested in making contracts. We believe in creating talents and not binding them. Our company does not believe in bonded labour.”

Don’t regret later
As production houses and talents who have entered into a contract seem to be satisfied with the business module and others are clear why they have stayed away from it, industry experts have a few suggestions for new talents who are willing to sign a deal. Film expert Taran Adarsh says, “Firstly, it is a negotiable agreement between a production house and talent. So, to regret it (the contract) later is not right. I know of an instance when an actress was not willing to give commission of her payments to the producer. But, she had signed the contract. So the producer was not in the wrong. One should keep their eyes and mind open while signing a contract. If one cribs about it later, then it shows you in a bad light.”



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