After working in television for 20 years, it takes guts to leave a highly-paid job as a channel head and venture into film production. But Ashvini Yardi seems to have lots of it, along with passion and drive. Following an idea that germinated on the sets of Khatron Ke Khiladi in 2011, Yardi teamed up with actor Akshay Kumar to start Grazing Goat Pictures. The duo’s first release, Oh My God!, was a box office success. Now, besides Bollywood, the company is also focussing on creative films and regional cinema.
Yardi shares her challenges, inspiration and what makes ‘Akki’ and her a team:
Tell us about your upcoming movie, Fugli.
Directed by Kabir Sadanand, Fugli is about four friends who, because of an ‘incident’, get sucked into a world of corruption and politics. The central characters are played by fresh faces: Anil Kapoor’s nephew Mohit Marwah, Olympic medal-winning boxer Vijender Singh, Sayed Jaffery’s grandniece Kiara Advani and Slumdog Millionaire actor Arfi Lamba.
What is your company’s business strategy?
We want to make Grazing Goat Pictures a global player. We not only want to produce regional cinema and world cinema, but are also encouraging our creative team to come up with TV formats and events. Furthermore, we have launched a digital arm. Its first offering is a YouTube channel, FOMO (Fashion on My Own), which caters to both Hindi and English audiences.
How did you survive the transition from TV to movies?
I took a big risk when I quit Colors for the challenge of film production. I have always had the drive to create and promote content with great public appeal. Akshay Kumar was also very keen about this synergy.
How is Akshay to work with?
Akshay and I have been working together for more than five years—on Fear Factor and various award shows. We relate to each other because we have similar working styles. But the main factor that brought us together was the love for content-driven subjects and our efforts to give regional cinema a platform. I think we complement each other—he has fabulous business sense and I have the knowledge of scripts and content.
Why regional cinema?
Regional cinema is growing by leaps and bounds. We’ve already released a couple of regional films—72 Miles Ek Pravas (Marathi) and Bhaji in Problem (Punjabi)—and have announced our next, a film called Anntar (Marathi) that is being filmed in London. In my opinion, regional films are simple yet impactful because they aren’t flashy or trashy. Also, the audience can relate to the performances and the cinematography.
What are the challenges you face as a producer?
The biggest challenge, and the biggest drive, is the need to constantly re-invent. People get bored easily.
The genres you prefer?
Cinema, I believe, is a mode of escapism. It’s a prerequisite of the industry that films with various themes and genres be made.
Who is your inspiration?
Oprah Winfrey. I like the fact that she has come up in life with just hard work and a lot of dedication. I also love her strong connection with people and the fact that she is so genuine.
Fulgi is scheduled to release in the second half of the year.