EXCLUSIVE: Apoorva Mehta, CEO of Dharma Productions, talks about Gehraiyaan, pan-India films, and keeping up with changing times- “We have rich, diverse content being created within the company”

Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions is all set to start the year with Gehraiyaan directed by Shakun Batra and starring Deepika Padukone, Ananya Panday, Siddhant Chaturvedi, and Dhairya Karwa. The film which will be released on February 11, 2022, is not a film that one usually relates Dharma with. “For us, the primary thing that drives any content being created is the narrative of the content. I think here Shakun Batra is an expert on relationship drama, as you’ve seen in Kapoor & Sons, and this (Gehraiyaan) script was so incredibly well written. This kind of subject matter, infidelity, it’s not been done in a while. I think there is no reference to this film like this, you know, in terms of another film that you can compare it with. So it’s extremely unique. And for us, that was the most exciting thing,” said Apoorva Mehta, CEO of Dharma Productions in an interview with Bollywood Hungama.

EXCLUSIVE Apoorva Mehta, CEO of Dharma Productions, talks about Gehraiyaan, pan-India films, and keeping up with changing times- “We have rich, diverse content being created within the company”

Apoorva also shared the reason behind taking the direct to digital route for the star-studded Gehraiyaan. “I think for this particular film once you see it, you will probably understand why it’s going on OTT. I think the content matter is evolved.  I think the content and the content matter are very well suited to the kind of audiences you have on Amazon. Also the current environment outside is not conducive for us to release it in theatres and gain maximum leverage from its release. We’re very happy with the decision of having it premiered on Amazon Prime,” he revealed.

Dharma Productions has eight films announced and at various stages of productions and they also have multiple OTT shows in the pipeline. What’s more interesting is that at a time when remakes and sequels have gained popularity, the majority of the projects in their slate are originals. “Karan (Johar) is somebody who’s always been such an amazing mentor to so many new directors and there are such lovely stories that people have to tell. We’re finding so much material coming to us and being developed by our directors or their assistants. In that sense, there is no reason to actively keep looking out for something. You already have so much rich, diverse content that is being created within the company. But of course, if some story does particularly well and we feel that we can adapt it well or it will be very promising in the Hindi language that we will look at,” he said.

Dharma Productions is also backing one of the biggest upcoming pan-India film Liger with Vijay Deverakonda and Ananya Panday in the lead. The film will also have a special appearance by the legendary Mike Tyson. Speaking about making pan-India films, Apoorva said, “The Indian audience, as in terms of Hindi audiences are very language agnostic, and they are very accepting of the South heroes and South content.  We’ve seen that Pushpa did such incredible numbers, Baahubali earlier, and many other South films that have incredible appreciation in the cinemas and also on satellite, and digital platforms. The idea now is that basically we are also looking at trying to do something similar, wherein we have great content, great story ideas, which can be played out by the South actors. There is a conscious effort to try and reach out to more people and also they have some amazing stars. So it’s such a pleasure to work with them.”

Dharma Productions will also be launching Shanaya Kapoor, daughter of actor Sanjay Kapoor with a film that also stars Lakshya and Gurfateh Pirzada. The Production house also has another three-actor film starring Bhumi Pednekar, Vicky Kaushal, and Kiara Advani titled Govinda Naam Mera. Both films, give audiences the idea of a love triangle plot. However, Apoorva said both the film are very different from each other. “They’re completely different films. They are character-driven films. It’s not like what you’re thinking, typical, but having said that they are very fun, they’re engaging, and they are both looking amazing,” he said adding that they are hoping to release both films this year.

With the ever-evolving taste of the audience in content, Dharma Productions is also doing its best to keep up with time and present the audience with unique and exciting content whether in the cinema hall or on OTT. Talking about how they are keeping up with changing time, Apoorva shared, “I think we’re very lucky that we’re working with a lot of young directors. We are launching two to three new directors, at least, if not more, every year. Young directors come with new ideas, fresh takes, fresh understanding of the current environment. So I think that really helps a lot. And Karan himself is somebody who’s so well in tune with what’s happening around as a creative leader of this company, that also helps because you have a sense of what’s working, what’s not working, and you’re constantly able to adapt, amend and reinvent accordingly. So, you have to be open to doing that and you have to understand that the only constant is change. With the proliferation of OTT audiences tastes, preferences, and choices are constantly evolving. So, you also have to be in that game, you know, by constantly monitoring and learning and adjusting ourselves to do creating content that suits the needs and preferences of the audience.”

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