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ISB students produce big budget adventure
ANJANA PRADHAN  17th Apr 2011

Pallavi Joshi and Arunoday Singh in a still from Buddha in Traffic Jam

ow does a group of four students with no filmmaking experience collect Rs 10 crore to shoot a film about campus life? It takes planning, dedication - and a clearcut business plan. Four students from the Indian School of Business (ISB) have just completed work on a socio-political drama on contemporary India titled Buddha in a Traffic Jam. The four students haven't even completed their degree yet, but Ravi Agnihotri, 27, Abhishek Mohunta, 31, Pritika Idnani, 28 and Sandeep Goel, 30, have already floated Friday Night Productions (FNP), a film production house, to produce the film.

"First, one has to get it right. ISB is not producing the film. It is an initiative of ISB students. But for the shooting of the film, we have used the ISB campus," says Agnihotri, director of FNP. "Filmmaking is a lucrative business for business management students when you plan it strategically and rationally," he adds. The film is a mainstream political thriller based on the life of a business school student. Directed by Vivek Agnihotri, the man behind Chocolate and Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal, the film has a string of eminent actors like Anupam Kher, Mahie Gill, Pallavi Joshi and Arunoday Singh.

This Rs 10 crore-budget film was completed within a month's time. Agnihotri, who is the major stakeholder in the venture says, "We collected around Rs 2 to 3 lakh by raising funds, and the rest came from our investors. Also, since Vivek is the director and a shareholder in the film, we didn't have to pay him. Most of the junior artists are ISB students who were keen to act in the film voluntarily. Very little money was invested on the location as 80% of the film was shot in the ISB campus."

Since the film is in post-production, the students will have to start looking for distributors once the rough-cut gets through. Produced by Phoenix Multidimensions Group in association with Friday Night Production and Vivek Agnihotri Creates, the 110-minute film written by Rohit Malhotra, started off as a five to 10 minute short film meant for the festival circuit. Agnihotri says, "When these students came to me with the concept and asked me to mentor them, I felt the concept was good enough to turn into a film that could also be a business module."

But how did the team convince their investors? Agnihotri says "mails were sent to 100 investors. Phoenix Multidimensions Group responded to it." Abhijeet Pai, one of the investors of the film, feels that a film with no big stars can also do well in the contemporary times. "When the ISB students approached us, not only was the concept attractive, but everything was clearly and strategically planned. All this gave us the confidence to invest," says Pai from Hyderabad.

However, film distributors aren't too keen on distributing Buddha in a Traffic Jam. Akshaye Rathi, director of Rathi Group of Cinemas, Nagpur, feels, distributors won't like handling this film as it has a thought-provoking theme and lacks elite stars. "The producers will have to take the maximum risk as distributors will only pay a refundable token amount that will cover distribution expenses," he adds.

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