Powerhouse distributor and producer, Mangal Murti Films founder Sangeeta Ahir tells Bhakti Mehta about cracking the code in tinsel town with her latest film production Golmaal Again!!!
When you spend two decades in the film industry as a leading distributor, often, planning the film you want to produce begins while having a casual conversation with one of India’s biggest action blockbuster filmmakers. “One day, we were just sitting with Rohit (Shetty) wondering what subject we would like to do together. We had some scripts in mind but we said our movie should be like a Golmaal. And then we thought, ‘Why not Golmaal?’” recalls Sangeeta Ahir, founder, Mangal Murti Films. So began the journey of making the fourth instalment of the comedy action Golmaal franchise, Golmaal Again!!!.
“After Dilwale, we had signed on Rohit Shetty. He is a fantastic director and directs amazing larger-than-life, commercial movies. I love his films like Chennai Express and, of course, the Golmaal films. Once we decided to do it, it took us two years to put everything together. I think it was destined to happen with us,” says Ahir. Being a seasoned industry professional, she did not want to just acquire the rights and sit on the sidelines. “We were involved in everything, from acquiring the rights to the narration, concept, story, look of the film, being present at the shoot and even in the technical detailing of the film. The film is a little different and I think it is one of the best Golmaals,” she says.
Putting on her distributor hat, she lists reasons why she thinks news about the movie has already caught the audience’s attention. “First of all, it is a Diwali release. Secondly, I think Rohit Shetty has a huge children’s audience which instantly makes this a family movie. There are hardly any films for kids to watch in the theatres these days. Kids love the car flips and such action in Rohit’s movies. This time, the look of the film is also very different plus the music is fantastic. It is not just a family-oriented film, it is a celebration film. I think that is why everyone is anxious, excited and looking forward to the release,” says Ahir.
While the film sees a clash at the box office with Aamir Khan’s Secret Superstar, which releases a day prior to Golmaal Again!!!, Ahir remains unperturbed. “I don’t think this will affect the business of the film at all. Both these movies belong to different genres. Golmaal Again!!! is a celebration film so it doesn’t clash with any other movie. I believe it is good when other films release at the same time, especially during Diwali. Yes, if they belong to the same genre or are similar in any way, they will eat into each other’s business. Since this is not the case here, I don’t think there is any reason for concern,” she says confidently.
Today, a lot of out-and-out commercial films are failing at the box office. But Ahir believes success lies in the content. “I don’t think commercial cinema can ever be a risk. It depends on the content of the film. If the content of a movie is weak then nothing, not even good music or a strong star cast can save the film. If the content is good it gains momentum through word-of-mouth appreciation. Today, people have become smart, they know what they want to watch. They want good content and a good message in the film. They don’t want a nonsense film or a movie which has people praising it just because the music is good. Those days are gone. Movie making is so challenging and everything is so expensive these days, people think twice before watching a film. Some films are celebration films and others, after seeing them, you know why they haven’t done well. The public has given their review on why they didn’t like the film. Sometimes they expect something and get something else. Even a Judwaa 2 faced a lot of comparisons and criticisms but the youngsters enjoyed it and it sailed through at the box office,” says Ahir.
On making the jump from distribution to production, Ahir reflects, “We have been distributing films for ages. We have done films like Saajan. Earlier in distribution, we used to sell films in every territory ourselves. We would have direct contact with the exhibitors. Now, the studio model has come into the picture where they release one film across all territories. Since we have come from the earlier school of thought, for us it is very normal to release the film in every state ourselves.”
On the future of Mangal Murti Films, she says, “I want to shape my company based on the studio model. We are already doing a lot of things in the film business today like distributing and producing films, buying satellite rights of other films, etc. We are trying to acquire the rights of one or two very big films. We will make an announcement once there is an update. Then we will go into production again.” And the conversation will continue.