With his first production venture Panipat gearing up for a year-end release, Rohit Shelatkar talks to Bhakti Mehta about taking a detour from the medical business to venture into films, the motto of his company Vision World and more
What prompted you to change gears from a business background to be part of films?
I have not really shifted. Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare still take up a lot of my time. I always had a natural inclination towards creative things and have always been very interested in Indian history. The key reason for starting a production house was due to my passion for Panipat and wanting to make my own content after having spent two years already distributing Indian films abroad.
What was it about the story of Panipat that fit into this thought process of yours?
I found the story fascinating. The Battle of Panipat is the biggest and unparalleled story of bravery and valour anywhere in world history. Over 150,000 lives were lost in one single day and other smaller battles were also fought around the main battle. The hardships Marathas faced reaching Panipat and fighting the battle with the mighty Afghans 1000 miles away from their homes in Pune just to protect our Motherland from the invaders, is something our youth can learn from. There is a lot to take from Panipat – bravery, might, loyalty, discipline and patriotism of the highest level.
What was the collaborative process for Panipat?
The most important aspect as I had always thought was that of finding the right partner for production and a good director who not only relates to the topic but also has the skill and ability to deliver the concept on the big screen. I found both, Sunita (Gowariker) as my co-producer and Ashutosh (Gowariker) as my director in AGPPL.
What has been the experience like of being part of a VFX-heavy, ensemble cast and historical film like Panipat?
It has been incredible. Working with Ashutosh and the AGPPL team has been a great experience. The one thing I have seen is that pressures at work are very similar across different industries when you work at a very high level of investment, have a magnitude of large projects and when there are huge expectations from you. I have been an integral part of one of the world’s biggest vitamin companies for 15 years and I can relate to the excitement, thrill, apprehensions and pressures associated with big projects.
What are the criteria for Vision World to select scripts?
I believe in content based cinema. Content could be real or fictional but it has to be different from anything one has seen before. My personal interest is in the rich Indian history and I believe there are still many unsung heroes and many unknown events in our history that we could be proud of, if only we knew about them. I will be involved in some more historic event based films in the future. We will also like to explore more good content films, which have a theme of social issues.
Would the production house be interested in venturing into the booming market of regional cinema?
Absolutely. Being a Maharastrian, born and raised in Mumbai, I look forward to working with some local Marathi talent and contemporary Marathi scriptwriters, directors and production houses to collaborate with. I also look forward to working with people from the south Indian film industry and also Punjabi films as they are have a huge overseas market.
And what about digital platforms?
The whole world is going digital. Although digital can never really replace the cinema experience, it will take up a big space in the entertainment industry. I am also very keen on developing content for digital movies as well as for series.
Does the production house have any other scripts that are being worked on right now?
As I have said, I love history and I am a keen reader. I have some other historic events in my mind but it is too early to talk about it. I believe in content based entertainment and would really like to work with the younger generation in India and produce some great content that we will be proud to exhibit, not only in India but also in the international market.