We at Equinox are ready, hungry & willing to adapt: Ram Madhvani

In a freewheeling chat with e4m, adman and director Ram Madhvani speaks about his new production house and his fondest memories shooting ads in the pre-COVID times

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Updated: Jun 10, 2020 12:26 PM
Ram Madhvani

Ad-man and Director Ram Madhvani of Neerja fame has launched his production house, Ram Madhvani Films. Madhvani entered the world of feature films as a director with the film Let's Talk in 2002. He has also directed Everlasting Light, a documentary that featured Amitabh Bachchan and is co-producing and co-directing the new digital project Aarya featuring Sushmita Sen during the lockdown. In conversation with exchange4media, Madhvani spills the beans on his recently-launched production house, its areas of expertise, creating amidst the constraints, budget slashes and more.

Edited excerpts below:

What prompted your decision to launch the production house? Tell us a little more about it?

Ram Madhvani Films is a natural extension of Equinox, which will be for making ads, which I am very passionate about and is our mainstay. Equinox has 6 directors. Nitin Parmar, Deb Medhekar, Sandeep Modi, Priyanka Ghose, our new entrant Tanvi Gandhi and I. We have three producers Manoj Shroff, Rhea Prabhu and Annum Waris. All of this is headed by Amita Madhvani, co-partner and producer. And Ram Madhvani Films is for longer content on digital platforms and movies that’s headed by Amita Madhvani and me. We also have Great Guns@ Equinox which is our tie-up with the London and LA-based Great Guns. We also have Equinox VR. Our Virtual Reality venture is with Khvafar Vakharia as Producer. This sounds like a lot but it’s just us struggling to be relevant and keeping up with the times.  

How has your experience been working in the COVID -19 scenario and setting up the production house in these times?

Thankfully, we had finished shooting before lockdown. Ram Madhvani Films is us at Equinox itself just with a different name for a long format. That’s all. And it was set up last year before we started shooting Aarya the series for Disney Plus HotStar. Everyone knows that our mainstay is advertising, so we decided to not have the same banner. Also, Manoj Shroff will be only looking at the advertising side. We did all our post-production during the lockdown for Aarya while continuing to make commercials. I am currently directing two commercials, which should be out in July.  

How have clients adapted to the shooting from a phone aspect? Have you seen a saturation yet?

Clients are interested in audiences and audiences are interested in the message -- what has to be said and how it makes them feel. Audiences are not interested in how it’s made as long as it communicates effectively. I've found clients have got used to this new method very fast. Also, we must embrace technology or we will not exist. We at Equinox are here to invent and reinvent. 

Has remote working become acceptable and the new normal for an industry like production as well? Will things go back to large productions as we have seen earlier? 

We in the creative business are hopeful people. I preferred the old abnormal to the new normal but I’m willing to work in any circumstance provided my team is safe. 

Are budget cuts going to be the new norm? What is your assessment and how do you think the industry should deal with this period of uncertainty?

Post COVID, budgets are a reality and down the line, we will need to cut costs. At the same time, we need to support people in this time of need and crisis. We at Equinox are ready, hungry and willing to adapt.  

Share with us one of your best ad film direction memories in the pre-COVID times?

I just finished shooting an ad two days before lockdown at India Gate in Delhi. Just to see people sitting in the gardens or out with family and friends “Hawa Khane” was a destresser and a very fond memory. My belief is we will be living those same times soon. 

Tell us about your plans to operate in the post-pandemic reality at a time when concerns around safety and health become big?

Yes, but we are a diligent, hardworking, safety conscience production house at that. We intend to continue to make ads for many years. We call ourselves the youngest oldest production house. And we will set and follow industry norms and safety standards.

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