The hues and colors in Roopak Saluja’s life canvas can paint the entire lives of scores of other men. He has lived in ten different countries across six continents, can speak eight foreign languages, is an MBA from INSEAD, the top international business school in Europe, worked for six years in ad agencies such as Young and Rubicam (Budapest) and Ogilvy & Mather (Paris), has also been a reputed DJ in the international trance music circuit, co-owns a record label in Europe, has acted in couple of films in Mumbai, consumes at least six cans of tuna per week by his own admission and, co-incidentally, he also runs a successful ad film company called “Bang Bang Films”.
But, as is the case with most entrepreneurs, things didn’t start with a bang for him. “Entrepreneurship was not planned but I was always good at managing creative talent and resources,” says Roopak with a disarming smile.
Son of a career diplomat, Roopak learned the art of adaptability quite early in life. “Assimilating different cultures was one thing but, more importantly, what I learned was to make strangers feel comfortable and it has helped me throughout my career.”
Roopak started his career at the age of 23 when he joined the ad agency Young and Rubicam (Budapest) in 1997-98. After three years he joined O&M in Paris and handled their Motorola account for Europe, Middle-East and Africa. In 2004, he fortified his job experience with an MBA degree from INSEAD. “Those were the days when there was lot of buzz about corporate India and I decided to come back and enter the media and entertainment sector,” says Roopak.
In early 2006, he acted in a film called “Marigold” with Salman Khan. “Yes, I did dabble with Bollywood films but somehow the whole corporate background in ad agencies propelled me to start my own ad film company in India,” says Roopak. He teamed up with Kirk Dias who had an extensive experience of ad film production in India to start “Bang Bang Films” in mid-2006. So what’s there in a name? Certainly a lot as Roopak grins: “We are not for subtleties here and want to be loud and explosive enough to be heard and known among our clients and peers.” On a more serious note he adds, “The whole purpose of establishing “Bang Bang Films” was to internationalize the Indian media in terms of work processes, production services and the content. Most of the Indian ad film production houses are individual centric and business revolves around the personality and network of the director. We wanted to change this and create a shop where we offer our clients the best of directors and technicians from all across the world. I used my network to tie-up with some of the best directors in the US, Europe and South-East Asia. And as I mentioned earlier, I was always good at managing creative talent and making them feel comfortable and at home.”
However this was easier said than done! Roopak struggled to get clients initially. “The international director is fine but who are you?” was a question he and Kirk heard very often. Indian companies who were in the habit of dealing directly with film directors found it difficult to relate to a Producer with no direct experience. They kept their options open and he came to know about a Hungarian film called ‘Overnight’ looking for line producers in India. “Bang Bang films” became the line producer and Roopak also enacted a role in the film. “The money we got as line producer was decent enough to set up a charming little office in Bandra and we started pitching for ads, corporate films etc,” says Roopak.
The first ad film they got to make was for ‘Little’s Baby Powder’. Soon they got a “State Bank of India” ad to shoot and work gathered momentum. But the big break came in September 2008 when they shot a Nokia ad with Priyanka Chopra. “We got a lot of positive feedback for the ad and it established us as one of the well regarded up and coming production companies in India,” says Roopak. Boasting an impressive roster of clients such as Nokia, Marico, Pepsico, Parle, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Mother Dairy, SBI, Johnson & Johnson, fropper.com confirms the success story of “Bang Bang Films”.
So what’s the forte of “Bang Bang films”?
“Our production values are excellent when it comes to filming beauty and lifestyle products. For example, there is so much work which goes into perfecting the look of the models and the set design while shooting for a hair or skin product. We assemble the best of stylists, make-up artists, production designers, directors, lighting, color co-ordination etc to can a 30 second ad,” says Roopak. “It’s a niche segment within our ad industry and the production budget can cross a crore and sometimes even touch 2 Crores.”
“Bang Bang Films” has 15 employees and will cross the Rs10 crore mark in revenues by 2008-09.Roopak says “We are planning to enter into other niche ad segments such as automobile ads. We definitely need more manpower-like a producer who has international exposure and a business development manager to scale-up the business. The company will also produce a feature film in 2010. “I always wanted to produce a film for the international audience. We are looking forward to creating our own content,” says Roopak, who seems to be getting ready to kick things into a higher gear once again.