Pranav Ashar, Enlighten, A Film Society for World Cinema Enthusiasts

By Team YS|14th Aug 2011
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enlighten

We at YourStory.in recently interacted with Creative Entrepreneur Pranav Ashar, founder of Enlighten, a film society focussed on bringing world cinema out of the closet for film enthusiasts. In this conversation, Pranav tells us more about the business idea behind his venture.Pranav is also the winner of the British Council’s Young Screen Entrepreneur Awards in 2011. To know more about the Young Screen Entrepreneur Awards, click here. To follow the Young Creative Entrepreneur Awards on Facebook, check out http://www.facebook.com/YCEAwards

Tell us about Enlighten.

Enlighten comprises of two related but legally distinct operations: Enlighten Film Society, a film society legally structured as an NGO, and Enlighten Film Company, a DVD label structured as a private limited company. Although our film society is an NGO, it is not a non-profit organization and we run the NGO in a very modern way, allowing all stakeholders and partners to earn money while at the same time keeping the basic intent and the legalities intact.

Tell us about the story behind Enlighten.

At 18, I decided to start a film society that would show film classics on the big screen. Even as a philosophy student, I had a passion for films and had already interned with major television studios. I was particularly passionate about world cinema and was actively running the Mithibai College Film Society. I saw starting a broader film society as a way to share my passion with more like minded individuals in a fun and exciting way, with screenings on the big screen providing an unbeatable high-quality experience. And after sensing that the market was ripe for introduction to world cinema, the DVD label was launched in 2008.

Where are you based?

Enlighten’s head office in Mumbai, we operate in Delhi, Banglore, Surat currently and plan to expand to Kolkata, Pune, Hyderabad, and Chennai soon.

How is Enlighten being received?

As the first major film society started by and for film lovers, Enlighten Film Society has built up substantial good will and relationships among the community of world cinema lovers in India. Consequently, we have been able to attract talented celebrities to give talks to our members for free and have built exclusive events (complete with press coverage) around such talks. We have earned a huge fan base on social media as well.

How do you make money?

We make money through sponsorships, subscriptions to watch world cinema on the big screen and retail sales from the DVD label.

How do you create awareness about Enlighten?

We have explored & penetrated all mediums i.e print, electronic and we heavily use social media. However, to my belief, the highest connect is through word of mouth.

What were the challenges you faced while starting up?

We had a nice idea to begin with, but it was very difficult to get the right people associated with us. But once the people - the employees, advisers and well wishers were on board - things moved pretty smoothly.

How much capital was required to startup Enlighten?

Ten thousand rupees, which I had accumulated from my previous part time jobs in the TV content production industry, was all the capital needed while starting up.

Share your expansion plans with us.

With a vision to be the biggest film society of the world in the coming years, we are already progressing towards that direction by planning a base in London and Chicago shortly.

Tell us about any partnerships that helped you scale.

Our partnership with Unilever's Brooke Bond Taj Mahal brand was the most important one, as they were the first ones to advertise with us. I am very happy that they have been with Enlighten for more than 4 years, since the time of our inception. Also, our early investors Mr. Raj Yerasi and James Brusche who funded us initially helped us reach where we are today.

Share your experience of winning at YCE 2011.

It was an honour to be acknowledged on such an enriched platform. This also helped us accelerate our plan to take Enlighten international.

For more details, do visit http://enlighten.co.in/

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