Gurgaon, the ancestral village of Guru Dronacharya has accomplished many a feat to fill its fob. Gurgaon has the third highest per capita income after Chandigarh and Mumbai. Not to mention the opportunities it offers the adland, for the city abodes advertisers like Pepsi, Nokia, Airtel and now Ford, in its vicinity. Where is the hiccup then? Perhaps it is the paucity of adequate production and post-production houses?
Is the advertising fraternity of Gurgaon losing out on anything because the production hub is not in the National Capital Region but the financial capital of the country (Mumbai)? Ajay Gahlaut, ECD, O&M, Gurgaon, says, “It does affect to a certain extent because we lack the proximity with good directors and production houses.” Nima Namchu, ECD, Contract Advertising, Gurgaon, concedes, “The process of making a commercial is a collaborative one – the more often you sit and discuss the damn thing, it (usually) gets better. And, like in all good collaborations, chemistry is vital and proximity would certainly help build some of that ingredient.” Gahlaut adds that the junior rung is the one that loses the most because the senior creative directors might still have a certain rapport with the popular lot of directors.
Titus Upputuru, national creative director, Dentsu Marcom, Gurgaon, wouldn’t call it a hindrance but he too feels the pinch. He shares, “Years ago, directors like Pradeep Sarkar and Shoojit Sircar operated in the Delhi area, but such talent left this belt to find better opportunities in Mumbai. There’s a dearth of talent in Gurgaon to set up production houses with proper infrastructure facilities.” He adds that while there might be better art to capture in Delhi and nearby areas, production hassles force you to settle for Mumbai which has a thoroughly professional production industry courtesy Bollywood. Hence, one observes more of talk shows and reality shows being produced out of the Gurgaon-Delhi area and less of TV commercials.
Roopak Saluja, co-founder, managing director, Bang Bang Films, says, “We usually go to Delhi/Gurgaon for PPMs (pre production meetings) and presentations. That market is bigger in terms of the amount of work that comes out of Delhi’s clients. Therefore, one could have a liaison office in Gurgaon, but you will not be able to have a self-contained process. Mumbai will be involved in 95% of the process.” He feels that if it is about having a presence felt in an area, you can set up a unit in Gurgaon, but when it comes to shooting an ad, it’s all about the right infrastructure and it will take time for Delhi/Gurgaon to catch up to Mumbai in that regard.
But Dalbir Singh, co-founder, managing partner, Kiss Films, (Gurgaon) gets the last word on this issue. He says, “When we started off, a lot of people asked us why were we starting off in Gurgaon. We said, “why not!” It didn’t probably occur to people to have a production house in Gurgaon because all the technical support is in Mumbai.” So while most of the production for Kiss Films happens in Mumbai, their marketing office in Gurgaon benefits from the direct interaction with advertisers and ad agencies. Although it all evens out in the end, but Singh is aware of the fact that Bollywood has spruced up a lot of talent from Delhi/Gurgaon and that they have to outsource most of the work from Mumbai. Clearly, for these production houses, abhi dilli door hai! (Delhi/Gurgaon has a long way to go in order to emerge as a production hub)
Roopak Saluja, co-founder, managing director, Bang Bang Films
“More than 50% of the top 100 advertisers are in Delhi and Gurgaon because the infrastructure for corporate offices is better over there. For them, the cost incurred on travel to Mumbai is a small price to pay. If you look at the South African market, the corporate headquarters are in Johannesburg while the production facilities are in Cape Town which is a two hours flight (similar to the time taken to fly from Delhi to Mumbai) It will take a good five years for this scenario to change, at least in India. ”
Ajay Gahlaut, executive creative director, Ogilvy & Mather, Gurgaon
“For a client, making films is just a tiny part of their marketing mix. They have got a hundred other things to take care of and therefore they are willing to bear the travel cost that they have to incur when their agency is flying down to Mumbai to shoot an ad. They mainly want to be closer to the power centre. But there are more films being made out of Delhi/Gurgaon. Increasingly, bigger clients are setting base here which gives more opportunity to the juniors to sink their teeth in media at an early stage in their career. ”
Titus Upputuru, national creative director, Dentsu Marcom, Gurgaon
“If there are people who would invest in this market to build the production facilities, one would realise that you are sitting on gold. Who wants to go to Mumbai all the time, anyway? You can’t take the whole team along with you when you travel and then there are too many business opportunities in Delhi NCR area itself. It’s not that you can’t operate if you aren’t in Mumbai; Prakash Varma of Nirvana Films operates out of Bengaluru. All you need is a good system, and a director with a good vision. ”
Nima Namchu, executive creative director, Contract Advertising, Gurgaon
“Till a few years ago, if you were shooting a commercial on 35mm, the camera had to be hired out of Mumbai. The NCR region lacks adequate infrastructure required to support film production. All of which is really a function of the city having started late, really. Ours is not a film industry yet. If the studio is adequately equipped, staffed appropriately and managed professionally, I don’t see a reason why a client will not prefer a Gurgaon-based studio. However, the choice of a studio should not be driven solely by how conveniently it is located. But, of course, a savvy client knows that already.”
Dalbir Singh, co-founder, managing partner, Kiss Films, Gurgaon
“20% of the production houses are doing 80% of the work available. The top production houses have already carved their niche and their profession doesn’t require them to be dependent to a specific geographical location. Kiss Films is headquartered in Gurgaon because I choose to live in Gurgaon. But I have an office in Mumbai as well. Almost all the production happens in Mumbai itself because you get the best voice-over artists, editors and production support in Mumbai. It will take a long time before you start getting all these factors in place in Gurgaon. ”