Emmay Entertainment, the content production house headed by Nikkhil Advani, Madhu Bhojwani, and Monisha Advani, has been garnering immense praise from audiences for their recent releases, the film ‘Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway’ and the OTT series ‘Rocket Boys 2’, both of which are based on real-life stories. The trio, working in creative unison with a mix of financial acumen and pragmatism, have built a strong 12-year-old company with a massive slate of original content that includes films and web shows. It’s clear that their commitment to quality storytelling and innovation continues to pay off in the highly competitive entertainment industry.
Ask them about the roadmap that brought the company so far and Nikkhil says that there isn’t one. He reasons, “You spend one year planning to do something, and suddenly out of the blue, something else will come up, and that becomes a roadmap.”
However, Monisha begs to differ. She says, “There is a roadmap that makes us a very interesting triumvirate because we function with contrarian views. We can be predictive about how we execute, but we have to always be reactive about what we execute. Nobody saw a pandemic coming and suddenly the consumption pattern changed. The tone, content, way we presented, all of that is transforming so rapidly that we have to nurture a group of creators who are agile to that flexibility.”
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Madhu, who Nikkhil says is the “voice of reason” in the company, states that at the end of the day, “it’s the commerce that allows us to exist”. She elaborates, “We didn’t come to the business with any context. But what these 12 years have taught us and kept us going is that you have to light many fires and hope that they become bonfires around which you can stand and warm your hands. We started this company in 2011, and up to 2017, we have produced six films. From 2017 to 2023, we finished our 29th project. That can’t be just based on being reactive. We have realised that we have grown a competency in the area of web series. We are also excited to tell stories based on true incidents.”
The OTT space is liberating, admits Nikkhil. He adds, “OTT has allowed storytellers to fly. Things like Friday kaun aayega, Saturday kaun baithega, Sunday family baithegi ki nahi. The purity of telling a story gets diluted in the process.” When asked what draws the trio to real-life stories, Madhu replies, “Real life presents us with the most inspiring and bizarre stories (Airlift, Batla House, Mrs Chatterjee, Mumbai Diaries, Rocket Boys 1& 2). Yes, there are a lot of ramifications, especially from a legal standpoint. Three of us are at loggerheads mostly when we give the green signal to a real-life story.”
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Nikkhil adds, “I was certain that if I couldn’t use Norway in the title of Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway, I wouldn’t make the film.” He also recalls the reactions he got for Rocket Boys. “A lot of people told me that Rocket Boys is cinematic and shot so beautifully, why couldn’t it be a two-hour film? It can’t be because then look at the content you will have to give up.”
The trio is moved by the impact their productions have made on audiences. “The impact of Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway is such that women are sending bangles and mirrors to the Norwegian embassy,” he shares. Monisha adds, “I don’t know whether it’s triggering or inspiring, but I am moved by the experience. We are not evangelists or activists, we just set out to entertain, tell authentic stories, and entertain.”
While talking about the production house’s plans – which include the second season of Mumbai Diaries, the new web show Adhura, a film by Saurabh Shukla and another one starring Abhishek Bachchan lined up this year – Nikkhil says he’ll continue to champion the approach of disruption. “We are constantly challenging ourselves. We have made Rocket Boys 2 and people are asking us to make season three. We have told the story. Jo humko bolna tha bol diya. What next? Longevity is a result of disruptions, so I intend to shake things up. Now whether the disruption will come in the form of genre or an idea, we don’t know,” he signs off.