Tyler Durden and Kinofist. An intriguing name leapt out of the credits and landed a smacking punch when I was watching a lovingly-made advert recently. It was the production house of director Thiagrajan Kumararaja.
A play on his initials, Tyler & Kinofist is a nod to two people who had perhaps influenced his craft: the cult figure of Fight Club and Sergei Eisenstein, the Russian filmmaker who coined the term ‘Kino Fist’ to capture his pugnacious style of making movies with impact.
That said, clever names are a rarity in the world of film production companies, largely populated by the many self-obsessed types like Aamir Khan Productions, Yash Raj Films, Pritish Nandy Communications and Anurag Kashyap Films.
But there are plenty of fish in the sea who’ve been swimming against the tide. Brad Pitt’s ‘Plan B’ is a classic self-deprecatory statement, offering him an escape route in case he fails to rake in the moolah from his sure-fire blockbusters. Then there’s Lara Dutta’s quirky Bheegi Basanti Films, which is a celebration of Sholay-esque kitsch. Another ingenious one that comes to mind is Scott Free Productions, a play on the founders Ridley Scott and Tony Scott.
By and large, the trend is to choose something that goes with the sensibilities of the founder. Quentin Tarantino’s A Band Apart is inspired by Jean Luc-Godard’s 1964 French flick Bande a part. Martin Scorcese, who toyed with the Sicilian-American identity in many of his creations, picked Sikelia (classic Greek version of Sicily) for his outfit. Stan Lee, the co-creator of Spiderman, Iron Man and X-Men, opted for the very comic-stripy POW!, which in turn was an acronym for Purveyors of Wonder.
Old-schooler Mani Ratnam settled for Madras Talkies. While movie maverick Roberto Rodriguez plumped for Troublemaker Studios.
Of late, stars have started floating their own studios. Former Beatle George Harrison was one of the earliest to play this game. He set up Handmade Films in 1978. George Clooney (Smoke House), Oprah Winfrey (Harpo Studios), Mel Gibson (Icon) Wesley Snipes (Amen Ra), Leonardo DiCaprio (Apian Way), Will Smith (Overbrook), and Kevin Spacey (Trigger Steet) have since followed suit.
In Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan led the way with Red Chillies Entertainment. Pooja Bhat (Fish Eye), Dia Mirza (Born Free), Akshay Kumar (Grazing Goat) and Saif Ali Khan (Illuminati) have joined the bandwagon. I am wondering if Salman Khan will ever launch a blockbuster factory called Hit and Run!