Their love for cinema and their passion for writing and directing films prompted the duo of Hemant Gaba a software professional and Pankaj Johar a chartered accountant to case their 72mm dream. Their first take at entrepreneurship was setting up Pennywise Films Production in 2008 with an initial capital of Rs 45 lakh.
With two feature films and a host of corporate social films and live events for TEDx and Skoda to its credit, Hemant and Pankaj decided to blend their real life experiences with reel life and the result is Shuttlecock Boys, a film that’s been in the making for almost four years.
Says Johar, "Shuttlecock Boys is a story of entrepreneurship. It’s a story about chasing your dreams, it’s a story about chasing your passion, and how the dreams are not meant to be lived with, they are meant to be chased and that’s what the film is about.
"It’s a story about four friends who are from low middle class backgrounds. They are not happy with their careers and they decide to follow an entrepreneurial journey. The film follows them as they undertake that journey and what happens to them in the end and whether they achieve their dreams or not.
"Basically it’s a film target towards youth, it’s a film about friendship, it’s a film about companionship, it’s a film about passion, and it’s a film about chasing what you ultimately want to do in life."
It wasn't easy for Hemant and Pankaj to break into Bollywood. This despite having won the best feature film award at the We Care Film Festival in 2011 and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award from the Maharashtra government in 2012 for their film Still Standing, a true guts to glory story of Pankaj’s father who spent his life working for the disabled.
So, while the shoot for Shuttlecock Boys was wrapped up in 22 days in true filmy style, there was a twist in the plot. The raw film was damaged in post production which cost Pankaj and Hemant a year.
Then began the nightmare of bringing a distributor onboard. After struggling for another year and a half, they found an interested party in PVR Pictures. PVR through its initiative ‘Directors Rare’ promotes small budget indie-films. Finally released on August 3 2012 the Shuttlecock Boys has travelled several international film festivals in Chicago, Seattle, New York, Florida, Nepal, Sydney and even Singapore.
While the film is finally taken off, staying in the black continues to be trying.
Says Gaba: "The only way we are surviving in terms of the revenue model is the corporate films and we are trying to get into ad films as well. We are doing events like TEDx and shooting for organizations like United Nations. That so far has been our revenue model. We are also soon to branch out in our own DVD label which is specially, exclusively for only independent films and those DVDs will be sold through websites like flipkart or snapdeal. We have already signed up with flipkart to sell our own DVDs; and not only our DVDs but also those of filmmakers who are in the independent space."
Enthused by the response to their debut film Hemant and Pankaj have lined up four more feature films and two documentaries. Ad films will be a new source of revenue.
"I see myself just going forward from here. The films that we come out with, whether I am directing, producing or writing it, it's going to be much better in terms of quality of technique, performances or script. So, it’s going to be just looking up from here. After the release of the film, we started getting calls from some of the potential financiars. So far we have received four calls from different parts of India who are willing to invest in the films that we are going to produce in future. So, we should be able to come out with one film every two years and after two or three film-experience, probably one film every year; That’s our target. We are currently working on four scripts so we should start seeing some production happening from early next year, hopefully.