Amita Madhvani, producer and co-owner of Equinox Films and Ram Madhvani Films, talks to G20 about her experiences. Excerpts:
Q. Tell us about the journey of Equinox Films.
A. Success on a philosophical level to me is being truthful to all the people who have contributed to bringing out the best in me— the learnings from parents, brother, sister, husband, son, friends, associates at work. They are the ones who patiently protect, guide, and support you as you find your stride, they nurture your instincts, and they pick you up when the going is tough. If I can live up to that, I can be called successful.
On the professional level, however, success to me is quantified against the earlier job well done so you are always awaiting your next challenge.
I started as a Production Assistant with Equinox Films (then called Cinematix). I learnt from great people like Sumantra Ghosal and Ram Madhvani.
As an assistant, I imbibed the culture of Equinox— creative honesty, transparency in business systems, respect for each team member, exposure to every aspect of film making, grit, the respect towards hard work.
As a co-owner of Equinox films today with Ram, we carry all these learnings ahead.
Q. You have burnt successfully the candles on both ends. How challenging has the experience been?
A. ‘Let’s Talk’ had Ram and me walking into a long format for the first time – we did everything ourselves, budget, choosing the teams, production, post-production, festival entries, marketing at festivals, and then screening the movie at festivals like Locarno, MAMI, IFFLA to name a few, releasing the film in Indian theaters, seeing our first big 80 foot hoarding with Ram’s name as director— it was all done hands-on. Each moment of achievement was a personal victory and immense joy, it compensated for all the hard work.
With ‘Neerja’ Equinox handled the entire production. I got my first glimpse at contracts, the business aspect of studios/financiers, marketing exposure, and how to protect the creators› vision while handling the business side of producing films.
The success of Neerja and Ram getting the national award for Best Film was according to me due to the Vision of the film was protected –Ram could tell the story the way he wanted to and honesty could be seen and appreciated.
Q. Share with us the model that has enabled you to retain the ethos of protecting and nurturing the creative component of translating ideas and scripts into reality.
A. On creativity for RMF- I onboard on a basic concept, the idea when presented- it is instinctive to protect creativity when you know it is good. We are a creative production house, we can produce the entire project from the writing to the production. We look for the correct association with financiers/studios, with whom our vision flourishes, the project finds its perfect match. Eventually, this is the most crucial part and it takes time. As sometimes one has been developing a project for 7 to 10 years, and it is delicate to maintain the balance while the project finds its correct house.
To protect a seamless transition of the script to contracts to screen and to do that gracefully is what I work towards.
Q. As co-owner how has Equinox production house been able to stay relevant?
A. Equinox Films has evolved and sustained itself as we are always adapting to the new challenges, changing work environment, changing technology. Creative honesty and having no creative ego is the mantra. In fact, it keeps us on our toes and staying relevant is important.
To maintain self-respect without hierarchy and value each member joining a project for us at Equinox and RMF is crucial. I work hard to maintain that work is never beneath your dignity.
Q. How have you all at Equinox adjusted and adapted to the new world amid the pandemic?
A. Like I said we just adapted. I have always believed in something my father believed and lived by the maxim that there is no age for learning. I discuss my work with my son and I learn from his observations. It is inspiring.
We have put Covid health and safety protocols into place along with our team so we can look after everyone who has believed and been part of Equinox and RMF projects.