Why is Dharma Productions entering into co-production deals

This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

Karan Johar's Dharma Productions is a force to reckon with and among the most reputed production houses in the industry today. However, the company which was initially producing films solo has now been entering into a lot of co-productions with other production houses such as Balaji Motion Pictures, Phantom and Nadiadwala Grandsons etc. Bollywood Hungama's Nikhil Ramsubramaniam spoke to a few industry bigwigs and found out the reasons and benefits of such strategic alliances.

Speaking about how it all started, Apoorva Mehta (CEO-Dharma Productions) says, "It has been a smooth transition. When Karan took over the mantle, he started directing films for his father Mr.Yash Johar. Initially the company was only producing films which Karan was directing. Then with Kal Ho Naa Ho we produced the film but it was directed by Karan's then A.D. Nikhil Advani. That was the first transition into producing films directed by others as well. Then we had Kaal which was directed by Soham Shah and with Kaal, Karan and Shah Rukh's Red Chillies joined hands to co-produce the film. That was the beginning of our co-productions but we continued producing our own films as well like Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, Dostana etc. Then we had films like Wake Up Sid and Kurbaan which were not co-productions but were distributed by UTV. Our next co-production was We Are Family which we co-produced with Sony Pictures / Columbia Tristar. Then there was Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu, a co-production with UTV and My Name Is Khan and Student of The Year with Red Chillies."

About their current and future co-productions, Apoorva says, "Now we are doing a co-production with Balaji (untitled film to be directed by Akshay Roy), one with Phantom (Hasee Toh Phasee) and one with Sajid Nadiadwala (the official adaptation of Chetan Bhagat's 2 States). It's a new phase and we are really excited about it. When two creatively talented people come together (be it Balaji or Phantom or Sajid Nadiadwala), they create something that's new and fresh. We will still continue our solo productions as well like Ungli, Gori Tere Pyaar Mein etc. If somebody comes to the table with something really interesting and it works for us, we are not shying away from entering into a co-production."

When asked what the benefits of entering into such co-productions are, Apoorva says, "The biggest pro is you are able to create and put out more content. When you are doing a solo production you are in charge of everything and when you are doing a co-production the tasks and responsibilities can be shared and divided, your work load is shared and your can bring out more products faster. In our co-production with Balaji, they are handling the entire production aspect because we feel for that particular film they will do a better job. For 2 States the production is being handled by us entirely and for Hasee Toh Phasee, it is being handled by Phantom so it's an interesting mixture which allows you to leverage the skills and strengths which the other co-producer brings in and reduces your work load. So it's a win-win situation really. Co-production gives you the privilege to scale up the bandwidth."

Shedding some light on what parameters do they look at before entering into a co-production, Apoorva says, "The person / company that we are entering into a co-production with needs to have the same kind of mindset, sensibility and positioning like ours. The important thing is to get more content out but obviously the partner has to be of some merit. It is important that both our interests are aligned because at the end of the day both of us want the film to do well and hence need to be on the same page. For example…Karan and Ekta have known each other for a long time and done some work before in the past as well, Sajid and Karan have great tuning so do Vikas Bahl and Karan. We have even refused some offers to co-produce because unless you are creatively on the same page and share the same sensibilities it won't work out. Those are the first things that we decide."

Speaking about entering into a co-production with Dharma, Tanuj Garg (CEO- Balaji Motion Pictures) says, "We've entered into various co-productions in the recent past. There is Ek Thi Daayan which we are co-producing with Vishal Bhardwaj and is ready for release, then there is Shootout At Wadala which we are co-producing with Sanjay Gupta, then there is Lootera which we co-producing with Phantom and of course the untitled film with Dharma which is directed by Akshay Roy. Creative alliances and partnerships are the norm of the day. We are always happy to tie up with like minded individuals. The moment an entity like Dharma and Balaji tie up 2+2 becomes 8 not just in terms of the overall creative enhancement but also from the business point of view. The idea behind entering into co-productions is to get the maximum out of creative synergies and to pool one's creative strengths together so that what comes out is radically enhanced. The Dharma-Balaji film was initiated by us, the director was identified by us and the script and concept was essentially our baby but then we realized that the film is set in a high society Delhi milieu and full of heart yet very high glam. We thought getting Dharma on board will only add to our creative expertise because Karan knows this world really well. He is the master of styling, glamour, emotion so why not collaborate with a reputed and credible production house like Dharma and take this project to a whole new level. We look to collaborate with reputed individuals who share similar sensibilities like that of ours. It's not really much about competition these days as much as it's about co-operation."

Speaking about who handles creative, marketing and distribution calls in such co-productions, Tanuj says, "Well…it really depends on the arrangement and deal. In some cases we are handling the production and in some cases our partner is handling the production but distribution and marketing are always handled by Balaji as that has been our main strength."

Vikas Bahl of Phantom which is co-producing Hasee Toh Phasee with Dharma says, "I think the best thing about such co-productions is that bigger and better minds come together to make a film and everyone has their own strengths. Filmmaking is basically collaboration so the more the people collaborate, the more chances are you will have a better film. We were making a film with Vinil and Karan also knows Vinil really well having acted in a few of his ads. So we all decided collectively why not make Vinil's first feature film. It was a natural progression. By the end of it you become one team working on the film. Everyone knows each others strengths well enough. The idea is to make a bigger and better film. Besides Hasee Toh Phasee with Dharma we also have other co-productions like Lootera with Balaji, Ugly with DAR and Queen with Viacom 18."

Article written by staff at Bollywood Hungama. Read more

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