“Invest in Talent”says Ravi Devan, founder of North-East Productions
Thousands aspire to become stars in the Indian film industry and not a day goes without the birth of a new production firm. Though statistics project adverse results, entrepreneur Ravi Devan has come to play his part in the game where big players like Reliance Big Pictures, Sun Pictures and Red Giant movies have a hand. He talks to YourStory exclusively about the genesis of his venture, North-East Productions, and what it takes to make it in the industry.
Was the journey an ‘all-planned’ one?
I would say, it was not something unexpected. My dad used to enact dramas during those times when my village folks believed TV to be an alien technology. So, genetically I was meant to be an artist. I grew up to be one and dramas and plays were my way of life through all my school and college days. Later I got into a premiere film institute, Taramani Film Institute, one among the only two institutes in India those days. Getting into the institute was difficult and I thank my uncle who introduced me to legendary actor Sivaji Ganesan, who saw my potential early on and recommended me.
I chose direction as my major and was one among the select 11 who were chosen to pursue studies at Taramani. Luckily from early on, I did projects which many found to be impressive and so, the journey began.
What gave you the confidence to start a production company, where it is difficult to make a mark without strong backings?
To be honest, I might have lacked many things but what I did not lack was self belief and loads of confidence. I had worked with reputed film maker, Abavanan on his project ‘Adimaigal’ with Sathyaraj in the lead role. Unfortunately due to certain issues it never hit the screens. It heralded a lull period in my career, but I kept myself occupied working for JAYA TV on a program involving DFT (Diploma in Film Technology) students. Ofcourse the tough times made me stronger.
Later I got acquainted with Mr. Arun Pandian, of Ayngaran International fame, while working on my tele-film, ‘Thief’ and he happened to be the hero in it. So I was called to work with him on his movie ‘Devan’ in which Captian Vijayakanth and Karthik Muthuraman had a role. It paved way for me to work in ‘Virumaandi’ with the legend Padmashree Kamal Hassan as the Assistant Director.
Working with such an accomplished star on his huge project was like undertaking post-graduation in Film technology. It gave me most valuable experience and I went on to work with Aygaran International as the Production Manager on its projects like Villu, Sarvam, Aegan, Angadi Theru, Peraanmai etc. Some of these were huge hits and there were some failures too, but in my point of view these were valuable lessons, which made me a better professional and person.
A producer is more like the job of a Venture Capitalist. How does it feel to be one?
(Ravi laughs and replies) A producer may be compared to a VC, but it differs by the fact that if the undertaking fails, a VC doesn’t turn into the streets but in most cases, the producers do. It involves a lot of commitment and mind blogging work to successfully complete a project. It is not just investing money, it is investing hard earned recognition and respect as well. I commit myself to all the projects.
With North East Productions, we are working round the clock on the on-going project, ‘Kalla Thuppaaki’. We are 80% through and I believe we have done a good job so far.
How do you decide on a project?
I look at the overall meaning and value that a project will create. While choosing the team to work with I completely go by the talent and equal hunger which the others bring to the table to succeed.
There are bigger players in the industry, what advise will you give to Start-ups who want to enter similar domain.
Let me answer this as simply as possible. Today as a country and audience we have matured phenomenally. A good film is all that matters, not necessarily the banner. You might have witnessed big manner movies also not doing well repeatedly. What is needed is the right vision, commitment and passion to create something which the audience loves, then nobody can take away the credit from you. Size does not matter.
To all the aspiring producers I would like to say just work hard to make things work for you. Its not a rose walk buts its not as difficult as it is made out to be. Don’t chase money, chase building credibility and good name for your work, rest will follow.
We thank Ravi Devan for taking out time from his packed schedule and hope North East Production makes it to the big league.
Interview by Praanesh