Having a yack with Yash Raj
March 25, 2011 05:38 by
Friday’s a big day. Final day of the conference, we have the equivalent of the India Academy Awards in the evening, but first, I have to have a yack with Yash.
Yash Raj Films, that is, India’s number one production house and distributor. These guys have done it all for 50 years – film, TV, music vidoes, documentaries, industry software – you name it. The patriarch of Yash Raj Films is Yash Chopra, is chairman of the FICCI Entertainment Committee and is treated as an
at the conference. But it’s Arjun Sablok, well-known director and one of their top execs, that I am to meet at the studios in Mumbai’s Andheri West district.
That is, if I ever get there. There is a lot of Mumbai and the traffic is, er, well… let’s put it this way – I will never, ever again complain about either the traffic jam that is the Port Mann Bridge or the habits of B.C. drivers. Over here, lanes are more a suggestion than a hard and fast rule, signals are optional and rush hour continuous. My cabbie weaves in and out of cars, buses, lorries, rickshaws and the odd Brahma bull with incredible skill and having only had to close my eyes a few times (I’m getting the hang of this near-death experience thing), we pull up in front of what looks like a little piece of Hollywood in Mumbai. It’s a huge studio complex, complete with palm trees (only these ones grow there naturally and are heavy with green coconuts).
Being admitted through the security gate, I’m guided into a complex festooned with huge movie posters, artwork, soaring ceilings and as many trees inside as out. After a short wait, Arjun appears, apologizing for being just a few minutes late – he’s been on a shoot all week and he just wrapped. We discuss Jinnah and he’s interested, receptive (Arjun has lots of B.C. connections). He asks for some more information when I get back to Canada and, meanwhile, we discuss the state of Indian television (dominated by soap operas that are sponsored by shampoo companies, making them
soap operas), co-productions and how B.C. and India can work together. For Arjun, presence is the key. He says B.C. needs a film office in Mumbai to make real inroads into the Indian TV and film markets.
I promise to bring that message back and after a tour of the studio, Arjun escorts me back to my waiting cab.
“Do you mind going a little bit out of your way or do you have to head straight back to the conference?" he asks.
Well, I don’t mind going a bit out of my way, no… before I know it, Arjun is giving my cabbie rapid-fire instructions for a whirlwind tour of Mumbai. He makes me write it down so I can remind the cabbie. We shake hands again and the cab sets off into the Mumbai traffic. This oughtta be interesting, I think, trying to take notes as the cab careens back and forth and (occasionally) forwards through the pack-ice of a Mumbai rush hour…
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