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AgTalk | Aiming to become biggest prod. house in India: Essel Vision's Keni

Nitin Keni popularly known as the man behind one of the biggest blockbuster of Indian Cinema, 'Gadar- Ek Prem Katha ' featuring Sunny Deol and Amisha Patel gained recognition for his first film in Bollywood and proved his competence in filmmaking and distribution. Prior to this he was the first executive president of Zee Telefilms and the first CEO of Zee Cinema when it launched in 1995.

In pursuit of his dreams, he moved on from the Zee Group in 1996 post which he formed Nitin Keni Creations Pvt Ltd. Now back with ZEE’s in-house production arm, Essel Vision Productions Ltd. he has produced qualitative shows like Fear Files, Dance India Dance and India Ke Best Dramebaaz. Essel Vision Productions was 

launched in June 2012 as a part of Essel Group of Companies. The company has already made a mark on the map of Television and Feature Films; both in the Hindi and Marathi space.

An engineer and post-graduate in management from the Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata, Keni was with the National Film & Development Corporation (NFDC), an Indian government-controlled organization, before joining Zee at its inception in the early 1990s.

In conversation with Adgully, Nitin Keni, Producer, Essel Vision, shared about his professional journey, key milestones in his career and his upcoming new projects. Following are the edited excerpts:

Adgully (AG): Brief us about your stint at Essel Vision and how do you consider your journey with the company till date?

Nitin Keni (NK): I think it's been a roller coaster ride since we formed and started the company in early 2012 and the first show with which we started was Fear Files on

Zee TV and post that we did Saregama and several others. We consider ourselves lucky to be blessed with a fantastic team and also that we are associated with the

ZEE group, though we are a different autonomous company.

AG: What made you persevere and stick on with this profession?

NK:  Post my joining ZEE about 20 years ago, it took 20 years for me to set up my own production house. Film Gadar taught me a lot as I was part of the film right from scratch, from the story to selection of cast, sets, everything. That experience prepared me for the future.  I prefer to be a Producer because then I can shape the ideas in the way I want to conceptualize it.

AG: Apart from your focus on television what are Essel Vision’s contribution towards films?

NK: Apart from television we went ahead and also co-produced films like D-Day and Lunchbox. We have also been the distributors for the popular Marathi films Kaksparsh and Duniyadari. We also provide content for Zee Q and Zee Marathi.

AG:  Please update us on your responsibilities at Essel Vision. 

NK: I am Chief Executive of Zee’s films division and I head the entire film business, including production of motion pictures, co-ventures, as well as setting up of domestic and overseas distribution network. .I was the first founder president of ZEE but subsequently left to make films and produce Gadar. Now back with Zee Group to produce films, television shows and brand distribution.

AG:  Has film production always been your first preference during the course of your career?

NK:  I actually started with cinema then ventured into TV productions and post that went on to produce Hindi and Marathi films and also into film distribution.

AG: In terms of broadcasting or producing a show which according to you is more challenging?

NK: Broadcasting and film production are two different things altogether. Broadcasting means you run a television channel where you outsource each of your programs from films to television shows which other producers make for you, whereas a production house takes care of every minute things right from the set to the final output of the show or film.  A broadcaster chooses production houses as per their preference and demand.  The product finally comes out from the factory which is the Production house. Hence a factory is very different from the market place viz. the channel.

AG: Having been in the television industry for more than two decades now, what is that one thing that you’ve learnt and would want to share?

NK: During this time I have seen that television illuminates that which is successful.

AG: You have produced dance and singing reality shows, drama and horror too. Please share what is on your agenda next?

NK: Research is going on for shows in the genre of mythology. Out of 10 shows only one show gets selected so we are still working on it.

AG: In your opinion which genre is the most popular and working well on television now, is there any scope for saas -bahu dramas?

NK: Drama will always exist, but saas - bahu sagas are done to death and that’s the reason we are seeing fresher content today. I think reality shows, horror and comedy genre shows are doing great on television. There is a phase which keeps on changing from time to time, but what matters ultimately is the way you do the show.

AG: Any film that you are working on presently or any activity happening on the films distribution front as well?

NK: We are presently working on a Bengali film called Aahuti.  End of 2013 we produced a Marathi film called Timepass. We also distributing Marathi films and co-producing Hindi films, and intend getting into production soon for Hindi and Marathi films.

AG: Please share with us your future plans?

NK: We want to become the biggest production house in the country in television, films and new media. We are also focusing on distribution which we started with Marathi films, now we want to get into Hindi film distribution like we did for Lunchbox and D Day in the past.

AG: What according to you will lead to the success of Essel Vision?

NK: Talent, honesty and hard work are the three virtues that will help us rise at Essel Vision. 

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