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A talk with Tanuj Garg

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There was a recent announcement about new entrant Studio 18 setting up its London&New York offices for international marketing&distribution. Tanuj Garg, would be heading the London office where he would be responsible for the marketing and distribution of produced and acquired films for the UK, besides chalking out potential projects and proposals for production for Studio 18. Here we get into an exclusive conversation with Tanuj Garg as he talks about Studio 18's International Plans!

To begin with, what exactly is Studio 18?
Network 18, the holding company of The TV 18 Group (India's No.1 News&Information Network in the Television&Online space), has launched Studio 18, a full spectrum division that will mark the group's entry in the motion picture business. The business spectrum of the company will involve production, acquisition, syndication, marketing and distribution of full-length feature films. Based in Mumbai, Studio 18 will have distribution offices in London and New York.

How does Studio 18 plan to establish itself in the global market?
I can speak from an overseas perspective, though my colleague Ashoka (Holla) who heads the overall division; will be more precise. He will agree that it's too early to talk global, as we're newborns in India but have already started growing rapidly, faster than most other start-ups in this space did.

Our team members are young, experienced and dynamic, and with a wealth of industry experience and contacts behind them, it isn't surprising that in less than 2-3 months, we're already being looked at as a force to reckon with!

I don't believe in making giant leaps before doing my homework, nor do I believe in being overly cautious and conservative. Ashoka has plans chalked out and we'll achieve them. I'd much rather make news out of results than plans, don't you agree?

What are the short terms and long term plans of the studio?
For starters, we're concentrating on producing, co-producing and acquiring viable movie projects and assembling our slate for the year 2007 for international distribution. You've already read about our massive four film (Neeraj Vora, Abbas-Mustan, Rohit Shetty, Priyadarsan) co-production deal with Ashtavinayak, and in the weeks to come, you will read some more interesting announcements. Syndication and Home Video are also on the agenda.

What does Studio 18 provide different to Indian film makers than other film houses?
We have an immensely experienced team with high domain knowledge. In the International Motion Picture Distribution division for instance, no one is in training mode. The Studio 18 team has a proven track record and we're here to deliver from Day 1. We have the support of a strong five-channel bouquet (CNN-IBN, IBN 7, Awaz, CNBC, SAW) and several top-of-the-line websites (Yatra.com, Jobstreet.com, Commoditiescontrol.com, Moneycontrol.com, etc.) from a marketing perspective.

Our biggest strength is our brand and marketing expertise. TV 18 is a listed entity with a market cap of almost 1500 crores. The recent ET500 confirms it as one of the 5 media companies among the Top 500 Indian companies. Members from our team are known to have pushed the envelope on marketing and publicity, on their previous assignments.

One hears that business spectrum of the company will involve acquisition, production, syndication and distribution of full-length feature films. Isn't that a little too aggressive?
I don't think so. We're in a high growth industry, and have the talent, domain strength and infrastructure to do so. Moreover, the activities above are mutually related and that is the true mark of a studio.

On a personal note, what sort of experience do you bring from UTV to Studio 18?
UTV has been a great experience, and under Ronnie (Screvwala) and Ashoka, I'm glad that I put my skills, experience and connections to good use. Our films like Parineeta, Viruddh, Rang De Basanti, Bluffmaster, Taxi No.9211, Don, Chup Chup Ke, Humko Deewana Kar Gaye and others, all managed impressive box-office results in the UK, which only means that I've left on a high and on a good note.

Having been in the media and entertainment business for 8 years I'm no newcomer to assembling projects, marketing and international business, which is what I hope to do at Studio 18. On a personal level, my biggest achievement has been in making the most atypical UK films work, a fact that was acknowledged even by Screen International!

With arrival of Studio 18, can one say that corporatization has finally made its presence felt in Bollywood in a big way?
The trend of corporatization has gathered momentum and is going to be the key driver for future growth.

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