I am spreading my wings and exploring various mediums in experimenting my writing skills. As mentioned the last time, I debuted on Planet Marathi which is the ultimate platform for everything happening in the incredible state of Maharashtra, from cinema, to sitcoms, culture and web shows. I write on something very close to my heart, the future of Marathi flicks and sitcoms in the digital era where there is a huge audience lapping on Marathi web content. You can check my debut article here. Don’t forget to like and share but also give a shout out to Planet Marathi on both Facebook and Twitter.
I am a great believer in Marathi cinema and content that has consistently performed over the years and it’s by no stroke of luck that the regional language has been honored time and again at the national awards in India. Marathi content has over the years won hearts for its sheer consistency and I am grateful to become a small part of the wind of change, showing the true colors of Maharashtra, albeit India, the portrayed diversity and rich culture.
The place to be for everything Marathi and Maharashtra, Planet Marathi, is one such initiative with talk shows online of the ilk of Faces, Lai Bhari and Manja Bole boasting of big and respectable names like Amit Bhandari and Mahesh Manjrekar. The web portal is carrying forward a rich legacy and of course the future is bright in the state with 27.71 million, a staggering number of viewers in the state. It’s all about believing in a dream and nurturing aspirations. Planet Marathi has plenty and bountiful in terms of initiatives to make millions in Maharashtra to dream big, wings to fly and soar in the sky.
Every week, Planet Marathi showcases a Star of the week, featuring new talents, with fire in the belly and ambitions to make it big. Founder Akshay Bardapurkar has incepted a dream and is making it happen by working tirelessly with a dedicated, round the clock team. It’s all about taking a tiny idea, giving it wing and achieving a rare feat.
An unexpectedly slow note was hit during the middle of the week till Friday and was bedridden due to fever that knocked me off the perch. The bed remained the only solace for me and realized how I lost my stamina. Just imagine the drop in body temperature that pushed me to spend time lying down, sleeping and slurping on hot water in the humid season.
I hate falling sick and it sucks. You don’t want to get up from the bed and feels like an invisible power sucking you to sleep. Tossing from left to right and hanging on a tiny thread of hope coupled with the worry and mind constantly harping on how to finish off work since was extremely weak, between having soup for lunch and cutting off from Netflix. Ultimately, at the end of the day, I wrapped up stuff like a monster on Thursday evening. Gibberish thoughts that come closer to hallucination…no but just kidding. Fever made me lie awake on the bed after skipping the food and up to the lark at 2.30 a.m but hoping that med and fever would put me to sleep again but didn’t work. After all, I had no choice but stay wide awake and the worst thing is couldn’t buckle the mind to read books.
The major fuck up is the hot weather temperature and the cold body temperature, two extremities that delete the possibility of putting on the fan and getting up to pour warm drinking water from the kitchen. It’s quite an effort and near death experiment. Thankfully, I was able to venture out for a short while today and came home, catching Dating Around on Netflix and now writing this post in the middle of the night for this simple reason that sleep is eluding me. I am still feeling bout of weakness but shall weather the storm.
Today, been a mixed bag of good news and bad news. In the morning, I was tagged on Facebook and debuted on the web platform of Planet Marathi, a curated hub for everything Marathi, right from films to cuisine and theatre or culture. I write on digital media being the future of Marathi cinema and sitcoms. More on that later and do follow the link here.
The landline just rang post midnight and when it happened, one can sense 99 percent chance of bad news which is an unwritten rule among many Indian families. We just received the horrible news that a close aunt who was ailing for quite some time with several complications has passed away at the hospital. And to think, I visited her last week and she regaled me with several tales. Do pray for the gentle soul in her last voyage.
The blog is set for an image makeover with a section to be dedicated entirely to growing talents in the entire film and pop industry, both upcoming and established ones will be tapped coupled with unique and exclusive entertainment news. The blog is proud to tie up and associated with someone in the entertainment industry whose name will soon be revealed. The soul of the blog will remain the same but have decided to curate content suiting requirements of my first love, cinema and entertainment industry in a bid to be ahead of the curve. Today is Christmas and we kick in with the interview of Akshay Bardapurkar who is the Associate Partner of the award-winning Marathi film Regge and helmed the web platform, Planet Marathi that curates web content, shows and films which portays Maharashtra’s vibrant culture and the rich Marathi language.
Today, the fact that Marathi films are being constantly honoured at the National Awards is no fluke or stroke of luck. With a shift in the way we watch movies which is becoming more a life style and is steered through web content harnessed in a powerful manner, regional cinema through Marathi shows and movies are going great guns through visionary talents armed with the belief to take it to the next level.
Meet the young, dynamic entrepreneur, film producer and Associate Partner of the award winning Marathi film Regge Akshay Bardapurkar, one passionate soul whose heads is always brimming with fresh ideas and curated the web platform Planet Marathi to showcase the vibrant Maharashtrian in film contents and shows. Recently featured on Forbes is a rare recognition and he attributes this laurel to a dream coming true that could have happened to anyone.
“The fact that I was featured on Forbes is dedicated to all my friends, colleagues and family who stood by me through the thick and thin, without whose unflinching support I wouldn’t have been an inch popular in the quest to achieve fame and stardom,” he remains unfazed by success. For him, Planet Marathi was an idea built from scratch and born out of sheer belief and commitment that made him who he is today.
Akshay Bardapurkar attributes his growing success and popularity to gratitude which he always carries inside him and tries to give back to the universe that made him. He calls himself, ‘a tiny living creature.’
When asked what makes him a brand who has worked his way to the top in showcasing entertainment within the audience’s reach, he tells with rare humility, “I don’t think I am anyone without my God, family friends and well wishers. As someone who has seen more tough times than career ups, it doesn’t really affect me whether I am a brand or not since I sincerely believe in doing good work in whichever possible medium.”
“In the past, I have been involved in heralding massive events along with celebrity management where the strength is derived from God who has showered me with the best of talents to work with. Be it politics or film-making, I enjoy my work to the fullest and don’t let any problem come on my way. I don’t bat an eyelid or think for a second that I am a brand but keep on doing the good work I am blessed with,” he quips.
The brain behind Planet Marathi who works round the clock to bring uniquely fresh content to promote the rich Maharashtrian culture has a line up of shows such as Manja Bole hosted by the versatile Mahesh Manjrekar. Then, there is the upcoming show with the hashtag #heisback to be hosted by the powerhouse of talent Amit Bhandari or #Faces where the audience will see various facets of talent in India and Maharashtra. In this interview, Akshay Bardapurkar speaks about his vision for Planet Marathi, the future of web entertainment and challenges for Marathi cinema.
As a young entrepreneur and film producer who dabbled into various mediums such as event management, web and movie production, how do you see the future and huge potential offered by content-driven web TV which is taking India by storm?
Thank you for your kind words. I feel every businessman is & should be an entrepreneur throughout life, because this is what keeps one going continuously from strength-to-strength. Today, no matter in which line we find ourselves, the entire spectrum is predominantly dominated by technology, be it digital or otherwise. Hence, the presence and importance of web cannot be ignored or neglected, for that matter. In a similar fashion, entertainment, films and events constitutes a trilogy that connects the dots through this chain of web posing as a common platform for all of them.
Easy access for viewing, perpetuity of content and direct connection with the audience constitutes the plus points of content driven web TV.
As far as ‘Rege’ is concerned, it feels good to be a part of an award winning film although my job was pretty to the point where I was more into a learning mode rather than as a producer. It was more earn and learn programme where I gained lots of experience.
Being part of all three spheres of event management, web & films, I have realized there is a commonality to all of them. The oft repeated bottom line is “CONTENT IS THE REAL KING”.
If we lack a good script and no matter what we have in terms of a strong cast or advanced film-making techniques, it is never going to work. Hence, I always put a special emphasis on essence which is predominantly the core value for my channel, Planet Marathi.
Can you share your vision of promoting the rich Maharashtrian culture through good cinema, arts, theatre and Marathi shows as well as films where at present we have 27.71 million web users and still counting in the State?
I feel more than a dream it was a necessity to fill in the void that has been created under the shadow of ‘Bollywood’.
None of the Marathi films were doing well at one time coupled with the fact that stage and drama were the only source of entertainment in the language due to its cost effectiveness. Marathi being culturally very rich triggered strong content relished by the people and showcased mostly in theatres.
In the past few years, I witnessed a wave of trend setting films which forayed through pioneers such as Mr Mahesh Manjrekar who stepped onto the Marathi medium of creative arts to help establish a different pattern of technically sound films.
What Marathi films or entertainment lacked was smart packaging for several years. I can share with you several scenarios which dramatically altered after Zee and Viacom 18 stepped into the picture. Yet, I feel there was a need for a channel to highlight the various aspects of films made in the language, apart from entertainment that encompasses politics.
Hence, Planet Marathi was created as the only neutral platform and in my own words, ‘lobby less’.
The idea behind the launch of Planet Marathi was a platform designed to nurture and showcase young talents where you partnered with Twitter India. How can the platform help budding talents and gauge the audience taste in terms of innovations as well as future projects in regional cinema or shows?
The idea behind Planet Marathi was very impromptu and sudden. I believe that there was a dearth of online platforms to promote Marathi in a wholesome manner and like you said youth and budding talent was always on the mind. But our focus remained content and hence we decided to showcase interviews and bio-pics.
As I mentioned, there was a lack of a special web platform to combine and present art, culture, films, entertainment and politics together. This idea gave birth to PLANET MARATHI.
Given that we appreciate and understand the need for light-hearted content but I deem that it is more like a paracetamol that alleviates short-term pain. I decided to concentrate first on serious content for there will always be a time for mediums such as stand up comedy and memes.
The audience can expect more in terms of ideation rather than borrowed content which is unlike a digital platform. We will strive to offer people a chance for visualization through our medium which is an echo of television content compressed and tailor-made for digital media while at the same time, not compromising on technical stuffs.
One of your upcoming shows, hosted by Amit Bhandari with the hashtag #heisback will soon be launched on Planet Marathi. What the concept is all about, the target audience and what fans of Marathi shows can expect from it?
Amit is a buddy and frankly known to me quite recently but we gelled very well once our creative wave lengths matched. The title, #heisback emerged since he was a very popular star anchor during his time but there was a sudden gap in show appearances due to professional commitments. Hence, it was imperative for us to launch him in full grandeur and generate hype taking into account his calibre. One thing led to the other when we roped in ‘Bollywood’ ace photographer, Dabboo Ratnani famous for his creative and glamorous shoots. We have also shot the making of his video to garner an impact on our Marathi audience since we want to make them realize that our brand projection and presentation, be it for the show and launch of our anchor is done in a splendid and elegant manner.
One needs to wait for the show to unravel its own secret and magic like Santa to blow minds of fans and critics, alike. It is a very unique and out of the world concept. Trust me this is going to be something which the public hasn’t seen for years.
Planet Marathi also runs a show hosted by the super talented and versatile Mahesh Manjrekar, Manja Bole. How was it working with someone of his calibre who belongs to the theatre background and can you reveal the behind the scenes tales coupled with the show’s response?
Mahesh Manjrekar was immediately roped in following his ambitious and most expensive film till date in Marathi called, FU (Friendship Unlimited). We wanted someone who is in himself a brand and whose popularity cuts across the slot of senior audience and the youth, alike. When I requested him to be a part of Planet Marathi he immediately accepted the offer which came as a big pillar of support to all of us as our platform has just started and we were barely known at that time. He is of very kind-hearted nature who decided to be involved without any frills, something we can find only in a person of his stature.
Manja Bole has already completed Season One and we are waiting for him to give us dates out of his busy and packed schedule so that we start rolling with Season 2. The show opened to a fabulous response as Mahesh was seen for the first in the avatar of an anchor on social media.
6. Do we see Planet Marathi or your start-up AB Company India collaborating with Mahesh Manjrekar on the silver screen in future taking into account he is also an accomplished director?
Of course ! Yes! He is not only a Marathi star, actor, director but an international star who was part of the Oscar winning Hollywood film, Slumdog Millionaire. To have him as an artist on Planet Marathi has given us a huge moral boost. We are ready in talks with him regarding a movie and let’s see how the project takes shape.
Today, Marathi cinema has come a long way right from the National award winner Shwas that was India’s entry to the Oscar in 2005, to Harischandrachi Factory, Fandry, the critically acclaimed Court and this year’s sensational Sairat. How do you see the future of Marathi cinema and its accomplishments over the years?
Marathi cinema is evolving every single day and in my humble opinion, we not only have great scripts but the best technical sets ups which can undoubtedly match any international expertise. The names that you have mentioned have immensely helped Marathi cinema to cement its position in the world. With the advent of young script writers and directors such as Nikhil Mahajan, Samit Kakkad and Sujay Dahake to just name a few, our industry is surely going to make the world sit and take notice as it will capture interest from filmmakers in Bollywood and Hollywood. I see a huge scope for Marathi Film Industry to emerge as the Number One on cinema’s global map.
There are artists like the late Smita Talwalkar who was considered to be the ‘Ekta Kapoor’ of Marathi TV and cinema who left a rich legacy. How can such a legacy be taken forward at a time when Marathi cinema is flourishing and case in point are films made in the language which are being honoured at the National awards?
Legacy will always pave the way for upcoming talents. Awards definitely help to raise the standards for good film making in future but not being considered for them should not dampen the passion and spirit since in the past we have seen many movies not getting awards have done incredibly good business at the box office.
It all depends on what the audience wants. Hence, the names that you mentioned are the perfect models that one can follow by treading on their footsteps and integrate with contemporary requirements to produce desirable results for the producers, cast and crew of films.
9. Planet Marathi is a great reference on the role start-ups can play in the segment of entertainment and web shows to go places. How do you view the place of start-ups in cinema to promote sitcoms as a game changer on the Indian market?
We need many more people to come and join the bandwagon to beef healthy competition among players since India, or for that matter, Maharashtra definitely need good start-ups to respond to the changing requirements and demands on the market. Be it a digital platform or a movie maker, start ups generally fare better than the already established mediums because they want to give their best shot to prove themselves to be able to stand mightily in front of big filmmakers.
In fact, I firmly believe that one should never ever get away from the start up mode as it keeps us on our toes all the time to create and deliver at an optimum level. India is a vibrant country with a young population who is not complacent when it comes to taste and anybody creating good films or web shows will be considered as a game changer not only for the entire entertainment world.
10. You have a respected talent and artist like Raju Parulekar who is associated with your web venture Planet Marathi. Was it difficult to rope him in for ‘Faces’ which showcases the various talents in Maharashtra and across India?
Having Raju Sir on our list of eminent personalities was like pulling a rabbit out of a hat where not many believed at first that we could pull this casting coup since he is a very accomplished, a senior talent and esteemed journalist blessed with a plethora of knowledge and ideas brewing in his mind.
‘Faces’ was born out of a very unique idea since he interviewed more than 3,000 people in the past on a TV channel. Basically, this is how Raju Parlekar created Faces where many of the featured lot attributed their success in life and business to him.
At Planet Marathi we have decided to dedicate the show to his work, perseverance and determination, hence, zeroing on #Faces as the name. The concept was built on the ground that we would invite people coming from different walks of life and social statuses to be part of #Faces to inspire the audience in such a way to propel them into action mode with the thought, ‘If those people can, why can’t we.” Different faces in different genres and expertise are part of the show.
What is the role that content-driven projects will play in future and do you think there is a dearth of it in today’s times?
Like I said, we have an intellectual audience but also taking into account the fact of giving to the audience what they need with our modest budget. We have several ideas in store and as we grow, limitless content will be offered right from comedy, to unplugged music created by raw talent in Maharashtra, food and travel shows, unravelling in not so well-known and far-flung places as well as presenting unique cuisines, life style shows, women safety and women oriented shows.
There are also rumors that you are penning a Hindi romantic movie. Can you tell us more about your upcoming film and what it will be all about?
Yes. It is also on the cards once Planet Marathi steers into auto pilot mode and generates revenue. It will be the time that I may go on a sabbatical to pen my dream project and wrap up this simple but intense love story. Depending on the budget, I plan to shoot the film in Hindi.
What is the X factor or USP that keeps you going from strength-to-strength?
The self-belief, constant hunger to achieve things and leading from the front in facing adversity remains my mantra and forte. Problems in life have taught me so many things and one fact I’ve learned over the years is: ‘Whoever you are, but at the end of the day you are a nobody.’ Gratitude plays an important role in my life.
My X Factor (s) encompasses minute observation of people’s behaviour, their thoughts process and the way they run their lives. For me, sleep and holidays are mere formalities. What keeps me going and always up is relentless hard work which is the most crucial in life.
Today, many speak about working smartly but to achieve success, there is short cut or smart work. It is only when you are true to yourself and decide to achieve something, there is nothing that can ever stop or pull you down in reaching that goal. Money will come and go, what finally remains is your work.
Planet Marathi is my passion and will take it on the global platform. My work should speak for itself. This is my legacy, irrespective I am here or not.