22 Sep 2017
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“We have a serious focus on youth films”

With several stories floating around its upcoming comic caper ‘Bank Chor’, Yash Raj Films’ youth film division Y Films has been in the news for some time now. Initially slated to star comedian Kapil Sharma who has a three-film deal with the studio, it will now see the likes of Riteish Deshmukh, Y Films’ new talent Rhea Chakraborty and Vivek Oberoi who makes his comeback to the studio after 12 years.

Building this division step by step around a youth cult is former MTV head Ashish Patil, who is the business and creative head, plus VP of youth films, brand partnerships and talent management. Having released three films, Patil has his hands quite full and is now focusing on quality and not quantity, as the young team at Y Films conceives and raises concepts that are entertaining and connect with young audiences.

With talent management taking a big focus, Y Films is now introducing young directors, actors, technicians and giving them a chance to project their skills. In a quick chat with TelevisionPost.com’s Chandni Mathur, Patil talks about the exciting times ahead with new talent and concepts rolling in.

Edited excerpts…

Q. Is focus on youth films growing within YRF?

We are about three films old and it’s been quite a ride. Each film has only grown the business in terms of scale and impact. Our last one, ‘Mere Dad Ki Maruti’, has been quite a case study for both the film industry as well as marketers.

We continue to have a serious focus on youth films and youth as a target audience. So you will see content rolling out that talks and hopefully connects well with that TG on an ongoing basis.

Q. How many films have you released and how many are in the pipeline?

We have so far released ‘Luv Ka The End’, ‘Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge’ and ‘Mere Dad Ki Maruti’.

We have two projects in the pipeline—one is ‘Bank Chor’ starring Riteish Deshmukh, Vivek Oberoi and Rhea Chakroborty, and another mad film that goes on the floors in December. Besides these two, there are at least two to three projects in development that will be announced soon.

Q. What kinds of investments are being made in Y Films?

The investments in a film are always in line with what the project demands. For instance, ‘Bank Chor’ with Riteish, Vivek and Rhea has become a fairly large film. The investments will be double that of a typical Y Film, which is usually in the range of Rs 10 crore (Rs 100 million).

Q. What kinds of concepts and stories are you selecting to build the Y Films brand?

Stories that we’d love to listen to, not just tell. Stories that will connect with youth audiences. Stories that entertain and surprise and lend themselves for fresh treatment.

Q. You have announced launching young in-house talent under the Y Films banner. Isn’t it risky, or is it a calculated move?

Young talent means directors, actors and technicians. Frankly speaking, it’s an investment for the future. As a lot of them are now being absorbed into the YRF mother ship for larger projects, e.g. Nupur Asthana [director], Neha Parti [DoP], Raghu Dixit [composer] who debuted with ‘Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge’ and then worked on ‘Bewakoofiyaan’.

So, yes, it’s a calculated risk. Anyway, YRF has been doing that at a larger scale for a long time and has launched a number of new directors including Maneesh Sharma, Ali Abbas Zafar, Kabir Khan and more.

Ashish-Patil-interview“Satellite revenues depend on the scale of the projects. For our earlier three releases, 80 to 100 per cent of the cost of production is covered by telecast rights”

Q. In terms of numbers, will Y Films be releasing more flicks in comparison with YRF? How many releases are you targeting per year?

That’s highly unlikely at the moment as Y Films is a very small team. Our model, unlike other studios, is not an acquisition model. We conceive and produce our own films. Also, we want to focus on quality not quantity. So there’s no target number of films that we want to release per year.

Q. What kind of satellite revenue do you get from Y Films titles, or what percentage of the cost of production is covered by telecast rights?

Satellite revenues depend on the scale of the projects. For our earlier three releases, 80 to 100 per cent of the cost of production is covered by telecast rights.

Q. In terms of celebrity management, which all celebrities and what kinds of deals are you signing? Are all the deals made for three films?

We manage 11 people, namely Rani Mukherji, Anushka Sharma, Ranveer Singh, Parineeti Chopra, Arjun Kapoor, Ayushmann Khurrana, Sushant Singh Rajput, Saqib Saleem, Rhea Chakraborty, Vaani Kapoor and Saba Azad.

Yes, all deals are three-film deals. But the film deals are non-exclusive, so they are also free to do films with other studios just as Ranveer is working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Anushka with Raju Hirani.

Q. But do you look after their negotiations for films with other studios?

We manage all touch points including films [with other studios besides YRF], brand endorsements, events, performances, appearances, personal PR and digital.

The creative and marketing solution for a brand or partner may be in the form of a press ad, a TV commercial, music video, event, tweet, placement in a film, or anything. That’s where the YRF 360 and creative strengths come into play.

Q. The deal with Kapil Sharma didn’t work out. What were the reasons?

No reason. We decided to part on this project and may work on something else together, possibly in the near future.

Ashish-Patil-interview“TV is a very fertile ground for finding talent. But we keep our eyes open; you never know where you could find the next big superstar—TV, advertising, theatre, or the nearby coffee shop”

Q. While you talk about providing a platform to new talent, you have brought in established actors like Ritesh Deshmukh and Vivek Oberoi for ‘Bank Chor’. Are you already seeing a dearth of new talent?

Not at all. The definition of new talent is not limited to actors. ‘Bank Chor’ is being directed by a young director called Bumpy. It stars Rhea Chakraborty, is written by a debutante screen-writer, and has a fairly young, new crew.

Each project is cast based on the script’s requirement. Our next one, however, will mark the debut of at least three to four new actors. But more on that later.

Q. Is YRF building a talent base and giving opportunity to TV actors only?

We do manage three very talented actors who have made a very successful transition from TV to films, which include Ayushmann Khurrana, Sushant Singh Rajput and Rhea Chakraborty [ex MTV VJ].

And yes, TV is a very fertile ground for finding talent. But we keep our eyes open; you never know where you could find the next big superstar—TV, advertising, theatre, or the nearby coffee shop.

There are several examples of people in other functions who have made a successful transition from TV to films with YRF, such as Victor [Vijay Krishna Acharya], who wrote some of the most popular TV sitcoms and now directed ‘Dhoom 3’; Nupur Asthana, who wrote and directed the cult series ‘Hip Hip Hurray’ and made her feature debut with ‘Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge’; Bumpy, who was creative head, non-fiction and directed ‘Roadies’ at MTV and is now directing ‘Bank Chor’. And then there’s, of course, me. [Smiles]