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Archive for November, 2011

8
Nov

Last Part (4) – Journey of Arranging Money my Honey for our 1st feature film WITH LOVE, DELHI!

And so the last part of the journey, the most troublesome one, the nerve breaker, the relationships breaker and the most tempting time to quit, a time when your brain says – “This is not an excuse, this is a practical reason, you must quit – there’s a difference between stupidity and passion, this is the former!“. Difficult to survive through this phase, but as they say – This too shall pass!January was a bad phase, very bad financially. We had to think before spending even 100 bucks. When you share this with someone who forms part of your film team and has been paid close to lacs of rupees as fee and on time, what do you expect if you have to pay him 10,000 bucks and you ask him to wait for sometime? Forget what you expect, know what to expect – 15sms in 2 days asking to pay 10,000 bucks again and again! Unbelievable, yes, even till now, but true! You cannot all the time vent your anger and show how shameful act this is, can you? Patience, patience and more patience is what is required when you’re focused on a long journey, not letting frivolous emotional matters and ego rise above your focus on the goal!

By beginning of February, came to rescue our very own Deepti aka Mini, newly wedded wife of Matte. She took loans from various sources primarily banks, in fact she’s the biggest single investor till date 🙂! Several post-production payments had to be made and the money could not last for long but only till March.

The entire process from the time of deciding to go for 2nd phase of shoot to finally completing it took all our money from us, hardly anything left to shoot our song and also for few post-production activities. it is almost unthinkable that a single error in the process can lead to so much hassle in terms of money and time.

By March we hardly had any money so we needed help for a couple of months and they came to our rescue just by a mail to a few friends:

  • Piyush Bhargava: Was with me at IIT but it was pleasantly surprising to see that he came forward to help us with a decent amount at the right time. He even agreed later to let him return the money after the film releases
  • Dhruv Gupta: My janeman friend with whom I worked for a year and who’s doing a big fat business now, helped us at this much needed time and also agreed to let us pay the amount later
  • Hemant Dewani: My colleague with whom I worked for sometime and someone who’s also following his passion, helped us
  • Shubham Jain: My neighbour at IIT and my chona-mona darling friend helped a lot and am obliged that he had patience when we need a couple of more months to return the money.
  • Kundan Sinha: My childhood friend and a real witty guy, bailed me out in this situation and kept patience when we needed a couple of more months to return the money
  • Manish Roshan: My cousin and like my best friend, helped as much as he could
  • Pallavi Anand Wardhan: My bua who really helped us at this juncture
  • Anupam Kumar: A very dear friend and a fine gentleman
  • Seema Kumar: My elder sister helped to the best of her abilities
  • Mamta Jha: A friend who helped us and showed patience in the returning of the money
  • Rakhi: An old friend who helped us
  • Uncle Aunty helped us as much ast they could
  • Jyotiman Singh aka Golu is my eldest sister’s devar, an IIT Bombay Stats Masters and a lovely cute guy, without asking a question helped us immediately with just a phone call and within 30min the max he could afford to do!

I’m a die-hard believer of “Every minute spent in planning saves ten minutes in execution” and you can only plan in the given constraints or quit and wait for the prefect time which I believe never comes. We had money to pay for most of the post-production activities (not all of-course as many post-production work had to be done later when we would have enough money): for non-filmy guys, editing is not the only post-production activity, it’s not even 20% of the post-production work and shooting takes the least amount of time among pre-production or post-production so never say “Isn’t it been long since the shoot ended”, yes, it should be except in rare cases details of which I won’t go into now.

So we planned – what were the options, the following:

  • Some corporate house or some financier buys our entire film and then release it as we don’t have money to release or even complete all the post-production activities
  • We release the film ourselves for which we would need crores more for Print and Advertising (called “P & A” Budget) – at least 1.5crores more
So we started contacting corporate houses and financiers for the same. Yes, we couldn’t show the final product but obviously could show the rough draft without the songs of course. Most of them liked the film but you know the line again and again – “Film achchi hai, lekin koi bada star hota to khareed lete”. And everyone will give example ki agar SRK, Aamir ya Salman hota to koi baat thi. Bhaisahab, agar itna bada star hota, to film apne aap bik jaati, aapke paas aana hi na padta! Anyways, content is king but hardly while buying a film, content is king for the audience, and when the audience makes someone big, then corporates consider it for buying. Corporates and financiers are not ready to buy a film without a big star value (star actors or star director) or should I say very rarely this happens. Sad but true! Few years back, they did but now it’s really bad.
Meanwhile we were also trying for plan B which was to release on our own. Again contacted so many potential investors but as always, people are not ready to take risk in something new and they’re justified in their own way. We obviously researched for bank loan for our company/film but which bank would give loan of over a crore for not so established players in the film industry – obviously all they used to ask was about “collateral” and dude, collateral and we 3 middle class guys, a big ha ha ha ha ha.

Going back, in February, we found that under SIDBI, there’s a body called CGTMSE which guarantees for a loan till 1crore to potential businesses wherein the owners cannot afford a collateral. Obviously the loan will have to passed by the bank. Also, CGTMSE only guarantees for 62.5% of the loan amount to the bank, rest is lost in case the debtor turns out to be a defaulter. We went to CGTMSE’s head office in Mumbai and verbally confirmed that they can take guarantee for our film if any bank agrees to provide us the loan.

We applied for loan in bank’s Delhi office for our film. This was done in mid-February 2011. Film making business is still considered a very risky business inspite of the fact that revenue sources have increased manifolds like many low budget films recover most of their money only through satellite rights irrespective of how the film performs at the box office. Even of the risky notion, after all the documents requirements and project report submission, we got to meet the senior officials of the bank in 3 weeks time. Apart from the hesitation one genuinely has while investing in new ventures and the general conception of ‘risky’ filmy business, there was a big issue – film related loans could pass only by all India Head Office of the bank which was in Mumbai. Nobody had any known person there and everything had to start from scratch.

Anyways, naive as we were, we thought, we would get the loan within one or at max 1.5months as CGTMSE would cover the loan but the journey began from there especially for Manav and me. Without knowing, we directly went to CGTMSE office in Mumbai and met all India head – we’re so obliged that he treated us like sons, he was very excited to know that IITians are venturing into new things, he ordered coffee for us and sat for some timr explaining on a piece of paper on how to go about spending the money and how to handle finances even in future – surely he agreed to officially provide guarantee for our loan, if passed by a bank. The project report was forwarded from Delhi office to Mumbai head office in a few weeks. We waited for a month after that but we didn’t get any response – positive or negative. Finally we decided to go there and meet the person handling our project. Somehow we could meet him but since it’s a big nationalized bank with millions of projects going on, ours had not even seen the light of the day. We requested, told him how we middle class guys have quit our high paying jobs, our past experience in corporate film making since a few years and how we need the support from government like nationalized bank at this juncture.

Unfortunately, our plea was rejected and we finally got confirmation that we need to bring in collateral for the same for the loan to be passed. We were heart-broken because that meant, that our film would be one of those hundreds which are made but never get to kiss the theaters, they just miss the theaters. That was a Friday end of the day, next step could only be on Monday. I can’t explain what we had to go through those 2 days – questions like “Were we really bookish…Are most people right that middle class guys with no contacts can NEVER make a film and release…Is this the real fact…My God how will pay rent or buy my rashan in a few months from now…When’ll all this struggle for basic survival money end…”. Anybody who has taken a path less traveled, a path which is risky has to go through these phases for sure, these are testing times and if you quit, you say after a few years things like – “Oh people just rise through contacts and money…there is always something hidden when a common man does something big, we just don’t get to know that…” just become cynical and feel jealous the entire life whenever a common man tomorrow does something big. If you don’t quit and go on and on, finally something happens, don’t know how much time it takes but each and every struggle for a dream is worth the pain – you’ve one life, what’s the point living a life which is not for something passionate! I believe life is completely a mind game, nothing at all depends upon the problems or situation you’re into but only on the way you react to those situations, nothing else – it’s all in the mind!

Fundebaazi ho gayi, ab kaam shuru – the office was in Nariman Point and we live in Goregaon (W) and during the day it takes about 2-2.5hrs drive to get there. We used to regularly go there, wait a couple of hours for meeting an official for just 3-4min and then again drive back 2.5hrs, so about 6-7hrs would go just for a meeting of 3-4min with the concerned official requesting to approve case. One might think, it’s ok, that happens, yes, but if that happens regularly for over half a year, then would you still keep on? Anyways, the next Monday we went off to the Head Office, through several people, met the GM and you know what – he said he would consider the case without any collateral and if the project is worth it, he would go ahead. He was very excited that such young IITians are taking so much pain to get into something they’re passionate about – obviously he studied Matte’s and mine few years experience in producing corporate films, documentaries, short films etc. for prestigious clients, he confirmed that we were capable and had prior experience in film making even though not in feature film making. We were on the top of the world and it seemed as if we’re done. On our way back, Manav and I stopped at the Marine Drive again visualizing all the dreams and discussing them. Emotions are everything, one moment it makes you decide one thing, and the other, it makes you decide just the opposite. Reminds me of the last lines of the Nobel Prize winning book by Ernest Hemigway – The Old Man and the Sea – “Upon his return to sleep, Santiago dreams of his youth – of lions on an African beach”, I get goose bumps whenever I think of that Novel which I had read when I was 14 :).

To cut the long story short, though it’s already long :D, after many hurdles, while I had gone to attend my elder sister Shikha Lal’s marriage in South India, I got a call that Head Office had informed the Delhi office of the loan being sanctioned! I was on my way to Rameswaram with my dearest and most caring relatives when this happened and you know how people get senti about these things – bhagwan ka pratap hai and all. Whosoever’s pratap or Mr. Pratap Singh’s pratap but we felt like real pratapis! You think the story is over, yes, that’s the way we thought but again we were naive in this area and so the struggle started again because of the yet another documentation processes. And alas, among the terms and conditions, we had to bring 30% of the amount sanctioned first before we would get the 100% of the sanctioned amount – hello Mr. Pratapi, kahan gaya Pratap Singh :))! The process went on for months from the sanction of the loan and we thought within a couple of weeks after sanction, we would get the loan, how naive!

June, July, August were months when we had no money to pay mobile bills, house rent, petrol and not even food. Once we bought grocery items for the month from Sabka Bazaar, and while paying the card was declined. We tried through different cards but even all together didn’t have that much money. Manav had to give up his house and start living with his sister and brother-in-law because he couldn’t afford to pay the rent. Matte had taken personal loans for the film, he started getting calls from banks and finally some came home, embarrassing him and family. Calls from banks, mobile companies, internet providers, electricity companies etc, kept pouring in. Before every call we used to make, a sweet voice message read by a lady could be heard – Hello, you haven’t made payment to………………… – and the day our calls used to get disconnected, somehow we used to pay min amount so as to activate services. Pressure also from some of the technicians and crew members for their payment which was running into lacs – I’m ultra sensitive about money matters and returning on time with interest etc. but it was just not possible and nothing but shame was a feeling all the time though mostly people cooperated except for one or two people. It’s not possible to enumerate all of the pain we had to go through but one thing is for sure, it was the worst phase of  our life and anybody and almost everybody could break-down and it seemed to start off also. Families started losing it, Manav decided to go for corporate films to get additional income, I started alongside handling a corporate film for which we had already done a project before last year. Matte even started thinking of going to Mumbai and do basic editing to earn something. Nothing happened even at these fronts except for the one corporate film we were working on. Talks even started of not releasing the film and waiting for a few years to become financially stable – trust me, this never happens, never ever, never, you got to take a leap once and for all – there’s nothing called a perfect time to go for your dreams! It was bad, felt as if I was again doing a job and not working for your dreams but yes, we never left hope.

And as said in my favorite film Shawshank Redemption (addressed especially to me “Red”, ha ha ha) – Red, hope is a good thing, may be the best of things, and no good thing ever dies! And that happened, we finally arranged for the required amount, crossed many official and documentational hurdles and finally got our 1st part of loan on 1st September, 2011! Yes, we were champions, we did it but remember, struggles never end, never till you reach the death bed so I’m prepared for more the entire life, it’s perfectly fine and perfectly worth it!

We met Director of Venture Fund of one of the biggest banks in India and he was shocked that so much loan was sanctioned and that too by a nationalized bank. He said with utmost confidence that he has never heard of anything like this before and it’s a very big achievement. During those 6.5months of struggle from the day of submission of loan project report to finally getting in the bank, time seemed so important and struggles so painful but finally whatever time or pain we walked with, it was all worth it as all is well that ends well. The loan was sanctioned not only because of those 6months of struggle but primarily because of years and years of struggle that made a good project report – being from the top notch college IIT which enhances personal credibility of the promoters, having made 60+ corporate films etc. for clients like UNO, UK Govt, Bihar Govt etc., Matte having so much experience in film making as Director, I having experience in acting in theater and short films and in producing, Manav being 7years in top finance companies and so on and so forth. No effort goes wasted as they say. Reminds me of one of my favourite quotes – “Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before!”


Struggle for releasing the film has not ended as we don’t have enough for a “decent” amount of needed publicity though we have money for prints. However, one thing is for sure that the film is releasing on the fixed date. Manav and Matte will write about their own but I have got help from close friends and relatives again. As they add, will keep adding here:

  • Anupam Kumar: A friend who helped from his US visit savings where he had gone on an official project
  • Shweta: A friend helped from her saving inspite of the fact that she had just bought a home and obviously must have been financially crunched
  • Seema Kumar: My eldest sister, what to write, she helps as much she can, all the time
  • Shikha Lal: My 2nd sister and a Civil Servant helped to the best of her abilities
  • Shipra Lal: My youngest (elder) sister who’s in Houston, investment once again in our film even though she had already done that before
  • Sanjay Shukla: My best friend and who was a major help by taking a huge personal loan for our film, helped again by taking top-up for that loan – Sanjay bhai, you’re the best without a speck of doubt, I love you so much!
  • [Why don’t you fill this slot, he he he]

After quitting job, I searched on the web on how a middle class guy can make a film, tried to find blogs on if anybody like this has been written in detail but all in vain. If you read my 1st blog, I started writing this blog when I came to Mumbai after quitting my job, knowing not a thing of how to go about making a film. That was in January 2010 and anybody and everybody we met directly or indirectly related to the industry did not believe that any such thing is going to happen though they might have wishes the best for us, you could see the disbelief in their eyes, the lines saying – “Koi baat nahin, kuch din mein sachchai samne aa jayegi ki practical aur dream life mein antar hai”. Now in Nov 2011, we’re ready for release of my 1st film as Lead Actor, can’t explain the feeling! This part of all my blogs i.e. the blogs on arranging money, as I’ve mentioned before, is for people who want to venture into something passionate and money is what is stopping them – this is one of ways I have done and hence can be done, yes, it’s painful, yes it requires lot of patience and focus but they’re all worth it. Obviously there can be other ways but I don’t know in detail how to go about it.

It was my earnest wish to write last part of my blog after winning the battle, the battle to show this film the light of the day in the theaters across the country. So proud and emotional that this wish has come true – our labour of love and pain – WITH LOVE, DELHI! (www.withlovedelhi.com) – is finally releasing on 16th December, 2011, across the country. For those who never believed this would be possible, here’s a ray of hope for their other negative beliefs and for all those who always did, thanks a ton, the support has been enormous, both financially and emotionally. Extremely grateful to one and all. There is a deep sense of achievement which can’t be expressed in words, it feels like winning a big marathon and at the same time, feels like beginning another, a bigger one…3 cheers to DREAMS in life, nothing else drives more…thanks for all your support, the fuel for dreams :)!

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