In Conversation With Ram Madhvani, Founder & Director, Equinox Films
Do you have the Midas Touch? It seems like everything you do, be it ads or documentaries or feature films, turns into gold, winning numerous awards.
My friends now tease me by saying that my favourite line which I didn't realise I was repeating so often is: "Kaam Karo Aagey Badho."
You have been directing for quite some time.. What differs the newer upcoming Directors vis-à-vis the the ‘older seasoned lot’ ?
You're going to have ask the older directors that. I'm one of the hungry younger ones. (Mean, young, not so lean, and hungry ). We like to call ourselves " the youngest oldest production house ".
Equinox is the first Indian production house to have a tie-up with an international production house, Great Guns. What prompted you to take this decision?
I am represented by Great Guns in London and USA. After Happydent won at Cannes I was wooed by many production houses in UK and USA to be on their panel of Directors and I went with Laura Gregory of Great Guns because I felt we had a similar world view. Their production house is family minded as is Equinox. They have also been around on top of the game for years. I remember at that time after Happydent won at Cannes I had gone with my family to London for a holiday and Laura wanted to meet me for lunch to see if I could be represented by Great Guns and I asked if I can bring my wife Amita and son Siddhanth with me and she went out of her way to make us comfortable. She took us to a restaurant that was kid friendly. She asked if we were vegetarian. She even brought her daughter along who happened to be the same age as my son.
At Equinox we believe in not just organising a shoot but hosting it and I realised Laura had the same value systems.
Then after some years Laura suggested we tie up since they have great expertise in the hair and beauty market. So now we have a panel of directors who are specialists in beauty and hair and we have done films ,amongst others, for Lakme, L'Oreal and Pantene.
Why did you choose 'Neerja' to be your comeback film?
Atul Kasbekar and I go back a long way. He was the photographer on one of my early ads for Dunlop Spectrawide and I even cast him as the lead actor since he was a good basket ball player for an ad for Dukes Lemonade. So when he called and said he had a project in mind on Neerja Bhanot and he had the rights and wanted his company Bling to venture into Producing Films, I immediately said Yes. I knew of Neerja. Her story is inspirational and part of urban folklore. It took us about two years to write the script with Saiwyn Quadras (writer of Mary Kom) and dialogues by Sanyuktha Chawla Shaikh and now we have a movie co-produced by Fox Star Studios and Bling Unplugged with Equinox Features as Associate Producer. With Sonam Kapoor and Shabana Azmi in it. It releases on Feb 19th. Though of course to everyone in advertising I keep saying I'm doing ads, I'm doing ads. Lest everyone thinks I'm doing features. Advertising to me is permanent.
Do you think awards are important to make a Company successful?
Awards are important if they are deserved. People know when they are. Eventually what's important is what remains in people's memory. To others your reputation is dependant on your last film but to you it depends on your next. So eventually the pleasure of awards is very momentary.
A teacher or a director? What role would you choose if you could have a do-over?
Films are in my blood. I'm happy Cinema chose me. I would rather learn than teach.
A while ago you went on a tour to Los Angeles, London, etc doing an interactive session on Equinox, film-making, India. Any learnings that you would wish to share?
The reaction to the work was very heartening. It's incredible how many people came to hear what I had to say and they were genuinely interested in discovering new directors . In that market I am a new director. I'm very grateful to the Great Guns team and Laura for having faith in me .
Scroll down to see what Ram helped create.