In this age of tentpole cinema, filmmakers who consider every frame a painting, are a rarity. Yet, that’s exactly who the executives at Yoodlee Films intend to encourage and support. This brand new motion picture studio from the house of Saregama (erstwhile HMV) is committed to systematically delivering socially significant, non-escapist narratives aimed at a literate Indian audience.
Upon being asked about the ethos of Yoodlee Films, Vikram Mehra, MD Saregama, explains, “Our most important and distinctive promise is to provide both filmmakers and audiences with a ‘no compromise’ approach to filmmaking. Each story demands a certain milieu, cast and aesthetic, and we allow nothing to get in the way of that essential purity.”
Though motion pictures, deeply-rooted in reality, gain massive international recognition at film festivals and showcase actors of irrefutable calibre like Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Radhika Apte, they fare poorly in India. “This is because good content is habit-forming,” explains VP of Films and Television
Siddharth Anand Kumar, who intends to release one film every month starting this September.
They hope to give an impetus to the indie scene, by tackling major issues like finance, distribution, release and marketing. Siddharth adds, “Indie films are released sporadically and are appreciated only by a niche crowd. But, there definitely is an audience, between the ages of 18-30, who are yearning to watch flicks like Lunchbox, Haraamkhor or Masaan in theatres, on VOD platforms like Netflix or via major channels like Star Select HD. We just need to balance the supply-demand chain.”
Against the grain
The studio has currently slated five titles for release, in English, Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam. This list comprises of Abhi & Anu, starring popular actors Tovino Thomas and Pia Bajpai. The future seems bright for independent cinema, primarily because Yoodlee has created a transparent system where filmmakers who are sharing their passion projects are given creative free reign.
“Abhi & Anu explores a very unexpected twist in a romantic story. Even while this Tamil/Malayalam project is based on a true story, no-one was willing to back such a film. Yoodlee is truly fearless when it comes to picking their subjects, and this is the result of that approach,” shares director B R Vijayalaxmi, who is widely recognised as Asia’s first woman cinematographer.