BANGALORE: Around the year 2000, Bangaloreans tuning into Radio City looked forward to the voice of Chaitanya Hegde and his Sunday morning Kannada music show, Chow Chow Bath. Stories of female fans jamming phone lines and sending him gifts and emails embarrasses him even more than a decade later as he says, “Anyone in my place would have attracted the same response. It wasn’t me. It was the music.” The following, he insists wasn’t ‘crazy’ and had also something to do with his love for the Kannada ethos though he was and is a global citizen. The erstwhile mechanical engineer, advertising professional, radio jockey, producer who also handled an all-Kannada channel Sparsha for WorldSpace India, left Bangalore a few years ago to chase his dreams in Mumbai. He then co-founded Tulsea Pictures — a talent management and production company in 2011 after working for a while with Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra.
He says, “I studied to be an engineer because I didn’t know any better. Cinema always enamoured me and I don’t know why it took me so many professions to get here. My parents were big cinema buffs. We watched everything from Tamil to Kannada to English to Hindi films. The exposure hence was vast. Even in radio, I was more interested in playing music than anything else. I also always wondered given our vast population, why is the number of meaningful and entertaining films, not necessarily art house, is so low.”
From that question, emerged the desire to somehow be a part of good cinematic content. Chaitanya says, “In Bombay, I would always hear film makers say, “But where are the good writers?”’ He also often ran into writers looking for a big break and saying, “But where are the good producers?” And so he along with friend Datta Dave founded a company to connect content creators with content producers and the first breakthrough came when Akshat Verma, one of the talents they were promoting, wrote Delhi Belly. The success of the film led to more writers joining the company’s talent pool. Says he, “The aim was to be a one-stop shop for studios to have access to great talent. With time, the film industry is opening to new ideas, fresh cinema alongside the usual blockbusters and there is a growing interest in writers.”
And how do they pick the talent they manage? “Beyond the quality of their work, we have to believe in them and it gives us great joy when a talent finds a platform worthy of it through us.” Suleimani Keeda (directed by Amit Masurkar), a festival favourite produced by Tulsea is releasing in November and Satyanshu and Devanshu Singh, two of the company’s most promising proteges post their national award winning film Tamaash are making waves on social media with their poetic videos about social issues.
Today Tulsea manages almost 40 talents including independent film makers, an animation studio, writers who address various content platforms like digital media, television, publishing and more. “Content is so dynamic today,” says Chaitanya as his company tries to introduce promising talents to big decision makers everywhere. And why does the industry need talent management? He answers that in a space where mediocrity thrives, sometimes even talent is not enough to succeed. “How you project yourself makes a difference. You almost have to be a marketing person which few writers are comfortable being. The idea that Jo dikhta hai wohi bikta hai (what is visible..alone sells) is rampant. We make the going easier for them. Our larger objective is to realise the aspirations of our talents,” he adds.
On September 30, Tulsea was represented by co-founder Datta Dave at a one day event, The Future of Media and Entertainment: Building a New Age Global Ecosystem, Challenges and Opportunities at the University of South California (USC). The event was organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
Despite his dreams beginning to take wing in Mumbai, for Chaitanya, home however will always be Bangalore. He says, “Bangalore has a sense of space, the best weather, so many diverse cuisines..I miss the food and the people. Bangalore is so secure, for want of a better word and my family lives here. So yes, I cannot find any fault even with the traffic when I visit but Bombay despite being hard offers you a buzz no other city can.”