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Part 2 – Journey of Arranging Money my Honey for our 1st feature film WITH LOVE, DELHI!

14th August to September
14th August was the D-Day for me, what I had dreamt for years finally came true – 1st day of shoot for my 1st Bollywood feature film! Dreams seriously do come true, whatever be it, that is what my parents instilled deep within me when I was a child, so deep that nobody can even imagine touching by whatever negativity they give me, nobody at all! My Mother and one of my sisters were at the Muhurat Puja of our film, it was simply one of the most beautiful moments of my life!
Muhurat Puja New_WiLD
Muhurat Puja on 14th August, 2010

Finally it all happened close to the way I had planned of entering Bollywood – as an Actor plus an Entrepreneur! However, we only had about 25Lacs to begin with, hardly any left after making advance payments to many of the cast and crew and for other production related stuff like pricey bungalows for shoot etc. Obviously we were banking on the stock broker’s commitment and our loan on our would-be-partner’s flat translating into a combined investment of at least 1.25crores.

1st shot of my 1st film!

Now here’s the breaking news. The stock broker suddenly started neglecting and postponing investment. The usual answer you might hear whenever you approach investors – Haan haan, dekh raha hoon, karta hoon kuch, zara time to lagta hi hai. He was known for ages to Manav but when money matter comes head on, most behave strangely. The fact was we were not getting a penny from there.

About the flat as collateral, Manav got a financier who was ready to pay 45Lacs cash for the flat but he for obvious reasons needed the original papers of the flat with him. Generally, along with the flat papers, one also takes complete possession of the flat till his money his repaid, however, he agreed to let go the latter as tenants were already there. However, here comes the final catch, our would-be-partner refused to put his papers! Was he expecting a financier to pay almost half a crore on just somebody’s words and without the original papers which even banks keep when they give loan against collateral? I really have no idea and at that stage, we would have broken somebody’s nose if he answered “Get Idea”, ha ha ha!

So here we were, penniless, 25Lacs got over in less than a week of shoot. We were trying other big fat investors but all in vain. It might seem strange but ones with fat salaries, owners of pretty decent companies, big shops, big cars, big bungalows etc. are mostly asset rich but cashless, trust me, everything they earn is on the papers and hardly any in the pocket. When I say hardly any, I mean at least cash in the range of 10-20Lacs. We needed real big shots who had money as well, not just show pieces like luxury cars and bungalows, but how many do you think we 3 middle class people – 2 IITians and 1 C.A. would know? Hardly a handful and that too not so close that they would invest in our virgin Bollywood project.

We were in the 1st week of the shoot nowhere to go other than wrap-up the shoot. We never ever, like most people out there, respected Producers, we only thought highly of Directors and Actors but this journey taught us the value of a Producer and the immense amount of pressure one has to go through which is so lightly taken by many naive people. While Director and Actors were preparing for creativity, here we were preparing whether this film would ever be made or not, whether creativity would just remain in their minds as in those millions of people in Mumbai or will it ever see the light of the day.

A ray of hope came when we were promised about 70Lacs by a rich friend of our would-be-partner – 20Lacs by 21st and the rest by 23rd. On 21st, he asked to come directly on 23rd and collect the entire sum. On 23rd, he called Manav and Matte home (I was shooting), explained nothing could materialize and gave Rs50,000/-. Yes, you read it right, we got 50k instead of 70Lacs, life is funny buddy, it really is. Got a call from Manav to wait in my vanity van after the shoot ends at about 9.30pm. We had to pay immediately 2Lacs to the unit that day itself – Manav and Matte on their way collected 20k, 25k, 30k etc. from here and there, from different ATMs, from savings in Matte’s house, every penny to finally pay off the amount! We 3 met in my vanity van, discussed and decided that we need to now contact as much people as we know and ask them to invest or take personal loan, we would pay high per month interest so it would be a good investment decision for them.

While Matte and Manav were running around the entire day for money and for permissions to shoot at 35 monuments of Delhi, I used to call people in every break I could get in between shots. Not a great thing to do for an actor, but if the film is shelved, who would be an actor, tell me? Trust me, it’s not funny at all being rejected by several friends and relatives, it hits you hard and every phone call you make, you are extremely nervous and fear rejection and heart-break. I’m not a born businessman who can deal with Nos easily, I’m like any other educated middle class guy who would never want to get into asking anything, at least not money at all, from close friends and relatives. But I had to and while many actually did not have enough money to invest, many did not have the faith required to take the risk of taking a personal loan for us but I still got my share of people who helped us out.

Manav’s and Matte’s investors are for them to write about, I’ll write about what came via me:

  • Sanjay Shukla, who had lend whatever savings he had before, took a big loan for us. If you think it’s normal, then let me tell you that I’ve a huge network of close friends and relatives and only a few of them took loan for us, it’s a deed which deserves salutation, it is a showcase of epitome of friendship! I love you Sanjay, muah! You would be surprised but when you tell Sanjay that you need money, he never asks a single question, he just asks how much and how he should go about it, rare people, I’m blessed :)!
  • Rajiv Sinha, one of my best friends, had to apply for a home loan and taking a loan for us would reduce or dismiss his housing loan amount but even then, he took loan for us! Isn’t that simply unbelievable! Whereas few of our close friends and relatives had no such baggage and could have easily helped us by a loan, they were not ready to take a little pain and endow a bit of trust in us, here was a guy ready to take a loan with so much sacrifice. Someone rightly said that even one or two friends are enough for a lifetime, I’m glad I’ve more :).
  • My Uncle Mr. Sanjay Kumar, who had invested before, also investment an amount again in this crunched state.
Similarly, Manav and Matte collected large sums from friends and relatives and we could sail through the 1st phase of shoot and crossed budget of many hit Bollywood films while we still had to pay a huge amount after the film ended, many crew were working on credit, courtesy Ravi Sarin.
The date decided to complete the shoot, we were actually done with the shoot, or so we thought. We had a grand party in a pub in Green Park then.
The 3 Producers who made the film ‘possible’ from ‘simply impossible’ – the 3Ms, Manav-Matte-Me :))!
Happy faces – 1 of the best phases of my life, so much so that it created a huge emotional vacuum afterwards  🙁
Ravi Sarin, our Associate Producer, who has done 100+ films from 3 Idiots, RDB, Chak De India to Peepli Live, called me after the last shot and congratulated saying – “Sir, 80% of the Delhi producers stop their shoot mid-way and films never gets released, it comes as a pleasant surprise that we have actually completed the shoot. A big congratulations!”.
Completed the shoot? Yes, so we thought, but God had different plans.
We gave post-dated cheques (15days) of lacs and lacs of rupees to all the cast and crew. We believed that as we had generated so huge a sum before, we’d generate the same now – the total budget after all is done would obviously be a few crores. Let’s see what happened in the next phase in my next blog, how we got to be prepared for shocks in any business and how new entrepreneurs can actually avoid them by preparing for the worst!

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