Nitin Chandra, Champaran Talkies

By Team YS|14th Feb 2009
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A hi-tech video camera sits as snugly in Nitin Chandra's hands as a hot litti, a delicacy common in Bihar. The young filmmaker has been making films for social causes since 2008, when he founded the company Champaran Talkies (www.champarantalkies.com). Chandra finds his pride and stories in Bihar, a state in India widely shunned by the populace, but a region rich in culture, traditions, languages, religions and spirituality. Just like him, his films and stories are not mainstream. When many other north-Indians were hiding themselves for fear of a hate-crime during the anti-immigrant wave in Maharashtra, Chandra was shooting The Outsider, a film about the violence and discrimination based in the same epoch.

With a seed capital of Rs. 5,000, Champaran Talkies has already produced two films and is now producing a third. 26-year-old Chandra is working on three different scripts too. The one man team has grown to four and Champaran Talkies has two branches too - one in Patna and the other in Mumbai. The spirit of the entrepreneur always leaps ahead in time though. Chandra's vision for 2010 is to generate more jobs through filmmaking and create a market for films in Bihar.


Why an entrepreneur? Why didn't you pursue a regular job?

I have to admit, I did take up a regular job after graduation but soon, I realized that my own potential was not being optimized. I realized I possess two qualities hard to come by in this world - ideas and courage. Just this self-knowledge gave me the confidence to set off on the rickety path of entrepreneurship. I wanted to do something of my own. The idea of starting my own production house came to me naturally, and so Champaran Talkies was born. Entrepreneurship opens a whole new world of possibilities as well as challenges. For an entrepreneur, the world is a university. After the kickstart sputters, an entrepreneur begins loving the challenges as they become your driving force. Each day is a new day, which we don’t get in a regular 9 to 5 job.


How difficult were the initial years? What kind of challenges did you face?

I started my project in Feb 2008, amid a lot of chaos and absolutely no resources. I am a filmmaker by profession, but since Champaran Talkies was more for a social cause, I did not have a huge capital or team backing me. There was a lot of uncertainty. I was shooting some part of my film in Nasik, at the same time when a major anti-north Indian wave was sweeping the south. My camera and filmmaking equipment was confiscated by the police. The same thing happened with me in Mumbai. The lack of funds drove me to collect more than Rs. 50,000 from Orkut and other Internet communities for my first project. 


What was the turning point in your business?

Champaran Talkies is still at the morning threshold. There is a long way to go and the turning points are yet to come. 


Did at any point you feel like giving up and getting back to taking a regular job? 

There are times when we all get a little perturbed, and I am no exception to this. My faith in myself, Champaran Talkies and the desire to do something worthwhile never lets me down.


What drives you?

The driving forces in my life and work are my ideas, a passion for filmmaking and the challenges faced by my country and its people. 


Who has been your inspiration, your role model in life?

There have been many people who inspired me. I am inspired by the lives of my sister, mother and friends. When it comes to film making, there are filmmakers like Anand Patwardhan, and Majid Majidi who influence my work, subliminally. Anurag Kashyap, Francis Ford Coppola have always inspired me to make good quality films.


What is your business model, and what are the differentiators of your business? How do you plan to scale-up?

I am not following any particular bookish business model proposed by management gurus. I work in accordance with market trends. As of now, I am writing three scripts and already working on a film which is an adaptation of the famous “Boya Ped Babool Kaa” by the famous writer Dinesh Kumar Mishra. I try to ensure that my films bring some positive change in society, Besides, I hope that my films can help in creating such a market where filmmakers like me can sustain ourselves and do quality work. 

 

What is your vision for Champaran Talkies? 

As I mentioned, I am not following a particular business model, and what truly drives me as a film-maker and an entrepreneur is my passion for filmmaking. I compete with myself and I constantly strive to better my own work in order to create world-class cinema. With my films, I hope to change the face of the films made in Bihar. There is a huge potential in filmmakers from Bihar and film as a business has a huge potential to generate jobs. I have generated a few jobs in Bihar through my company and trying to bring more and more business in Bihar and create jobs. 


What are the key requirements for the growth of Champaran Talkies? 

The prerequisite for the growth of my company is the support of like-minded people. If people appreciate and believe in the films, I make, it will give me the opportunity to continue making films with a cause. Eventually, this concerted effort will help bring change in society.


Do you have any tips to share with budding entrepreneurs? 

I want to emphasize that belief in oneself and one's work is the only way to succeed. Don’t be over confident. Learn the skills before you implement them independently. And if you are truly passionate about what you do, and work with full sincerity and dedication, you will find the infrastructure to support you and help you acheive your dreams.

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