If winning an award for avatar makeovers was a reality, the one person who would win it hands down is Dhruv Jagasia, kingmaker, music whiz, entertainment professional, film producer and a maverick at heart. Add to that the reluctant role of a star creator and you have someone who can turn dust into gold yet if given half a chance would simply retire to the hills forever and be lost in the vast universe he has within. Though ‘forever’ is not a word he likes to acknowledge and ‘day after’ a day he leaves to mortal confusion. As he puts it, “All I know is that I have a few calls to make tomorrow, a meeting to attend. Beyond that is up to the universe.”
Dhruv is the founder of the highly successful entertainment and talent management firm, Big Bad Wolf. A name his wife, a criminal lawyer, gave. Though Dhruv suspects it was “Big Bald Wolf” that she had in mind.” With artists like Vir Das, Prateek Kuhad, Indian Ocean, Kubra Sait, Kamakshi Khanna, amongst others in his repertoire, he now turns a producer with the film Choked, also handling the image and career graph of acclaimed director Anurag Kashyap.
A practising Buddhist and a born survivor whose office has this quirky poster that proudly proclaims, “Soch mat kar de”, Dhruv’s life is a story of someone who jumped first, thought second. And luckily for him each leap of faith got him deeper into the reservoir of his own inner talent.
Before treading into his incredible trajectory one must first highlight the fact that if someone whom he calls his mentor, Sanjoy Roy, kept the wordsmiths busy with their beloved authors during this lockdown, Dhruv swept the world of independent artist with his magical stroke of LIVE FROM HQ, an online festival where young and acclaimed artist held private shows from their own handles and interacted with their audiences right when the lockdown call was made and humans were getting mentally ready to crawl into the quarantine mouse trap.
He recalls, “I was walking to my office, which is a brisk 8-minute walk when this eureka of an idea hit me. Why not get the artists to go live and entertain their fans at 8 pm each day.” He shared it with his team whom he calls the real custodians of the brand. And each one of them “Pallavi, Aniruddh, Yama, Pritam and Abhishek (Dhruv insists on naming each adding that he is lucky to have these bright minds who indulge all his waywardness) lapped it up. Ashish Hemrajani, the CEO from BookMyShow, was in too. The team put together a DIY poster, lined up the artist and voila the act was alive.”
Dhruv the explorer has now turned LIVE FROM HQ into a platform that will scout new talent and give them a voice. “Honestly it is my ulterior motive of listening to something new, something fresh,” he laughs.
So how does he view the world of entertainment in these bleak times when congregations are not going to take place and festivals are out? He sends all preconceived notions out of the window when he retorts: “If festivals are the only parameter of survival how do you explain the billions who listened to Kolaveri Di on a loop? Or who made Gangnam style such a rage.” If that is not logic enough, he adds, “The pandemic is not a question, it is a fact. What we need to find is an ecosystem to overcome this reality. Just like in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean, we have to also bring all the pirates together, to make the ecosystem robust. We need to talk to each other.”
To the eternal question of how will the economics pan out, he turns on an intense tone: “An artist is an ‘alag sa’ being. By opting for this path he has taken the empirical decision to be judged for the rest of his life. Whether it is a singer, songwriter, or a guitarist, people wait for that one wrong note to make them fall. Artists are simple-minded people who face a slew of difficulties. Today they have to turn the narrative from ‘why me’ to ‘why not me’. This pandemic has united the world like never before and we entertainment people also have to unite to walk that extra mile for each other.” He insists, “While brands cannot position themselves as just sponsors, artists too have to take a step or two extra.” And above all he hopes that this reverse engineering will filter down to the folk artist who is in the real doldrums.
A kingmaker, Dhruv calls himself just a carpenter! “I did not carve the figurine but I sure do make the cask that transports his work to its audience.” Ask him how did he master this carpentry, and he blames it on his life in school as a backbencher that made him acquire skills to the nonce. Once again distracting you from his brilliance, he insists he was a “useless student” whose father taught him to respect every realm of work. “All through New Year eve I would be working at the packaging department of his factory with the workers.” His mother, a friend first, prodded him to work as an apprentice with Sanjoy Roy whom he openly calls his real mentor.
“Just imagine the delight of this Punjabi boy. There he was working with a maverick boss who let you think, wore his salt and pepper hair with élan, told you that you were actually in the business of ‘carving dreams’ and appreciated you when you got your ears pierced!” That to him was a game changer. At Teamwork was born this energy house that acted, directed, played radio jockey and even hosted a show on Vintage cars for NDTV Goodtimes.
It’s incredible what made him a reluctant artist. “I replaced Randeep Hooda in a play last minute when he got a role in Monsoon Wedding and our attempts at casting failed. It was the role of a loud Punjabi boy, which I could mime easily but trust me I almost escaped before curtain call out of agripping stage fright. If it weren’t for a kind co-star, the late Pooja Mukherjee, who first introduced me to the power of chants, I would have run for my life. Literally thrust on stage with a comforting opening line of ‘oh f**k!’, Dhruv charmed the audience and went on charming his way through acting for the next 40 productions and 400 shows he took part in.”
It was after jockeying for Radio Mirchi, anchoring for Goodtimes and being a line producer for films that he found his company which today works with most success stories including Indian Ocean, Karsh Kale, Karan Singh Magic, etc.
His newest avatar, that of a film producer, also follows the trajectory of getting into a realm by default. Anurag knew of him due to Indian Ocean and met him at the time he had come for the screening of a documentary on the band made by Jaideep Verma. However, it was his pal Zoya Hussein who inadvertently re-triggered the tie by inviting him to the screening of Mukkabaaz and then to Kashyap’s home for dinner. There when asked by Anurag to rate the film he responded: “From a layman’s point of view I liked the movie but wished my pal Zoya had a bigger role.” To which, “In the most surreal experiences, Anurag read me a whole new script.” This was followed by Kashyap’s request to handle Zoya’s career. He waited that thought out and agreed once she acknowledged a route that he mapped for her in a two-page letter.
Then he met Anurag again and found himself in the middle of his meeting with Bira Beer. “I was with Anurag at that time. I knew these guys well and I simply rattled off with them to see myself negotiating the waters for Anurag who was now playing on his phone.” Next came the offer to handle Anurag to which another two-page letter was written by Dhruv and Anurag accepted all points…
The role as producers was a natural corollary and today he works closely with the director whom he calls a “fantastic institution. A man who lets you charter the route.” As for Dhruv, his eternal quest for asking a million, hapless questions continues and the universe’s un-satiating desire to give in to his question continues too.
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ARJUN MATHUR TO ADARSH GOURAV: HERE’S LOOKING AT THE TOP THREE OTT NEWSMAKERS
MUMBAI: The past few years have been a revelation for Indian cinema with the influx of OTT content. From handling an out-of-box idea to bringing forth a crucial issue in the limelight – our actors are going all out with their digital ventures!
While we saw some of the finest performances on the streaming platforms last year, there are a few names that define the space with their path-breaking performances, unconventional takes, and impeccable cinema sense. So, here’s rounding up the top four OTT newsmakers.
ARJUN MATHUR: You cannot have a list of the ground-breaking stars without Arjun Mathur. The international Emmy Award-nominated actor has pushed the boundaries with his non-conformist choices, like playing a gay wedding planner in Made In Heaven or shooting a show in a lockdown with The Gone Game. Now, he has Made In Heaven S2, Gone Game 2, Lord Curzon Ki Haveli, and Lionsgate Play’s next series.
PRATIK GANDHI: Pratik Gandhi became a household name with his blockbuster series, Scam 1992. The actor earned massive acclaim for his apt and flamboyant performance of Harshad Mehta. Later, he stunned the audience with his brave selections – Bhavai and Shimmy. Coming up next for the actor are Atithi Bhooto Bhava, Woh Ladki Hai Kahaan?, and Six Suspects.
ADARSH GOURAV: With his solid performance in The White Tiger, Adarsh Gourav has made it into everyone’s watchlist. The new-age actor bagged the BAFTA nomination for his performance and is all set to step into Hollywood with his next venture, Extrapolations, starring Meryl Streep.
PANDIT BIRJU MAHARAJ WAS MY GURU BUT ALSO MY FRIEND: MADHURI
NEW DELHI: Behind every successful person, there are unfailing efforts of teachers. Kathak legend Pandit Birju Maharaj played the role of that guru in actor Madhuri Dixit Nene’s life.
After learning about the demise of Pandit Birju Maharaj, Madhuri, on Monday, took to Twitter and opened up about her relationship with him. “He was a legend but had a child like innocence. He was my guru but also my friend. He taught me the intricacies of dance and Abhinay but never failed to make me laugh at his funny anecdotes,” she wrote.
“He has left behind grieving fans and students but also left a legacy we will all carry forward. Thank you Maharajji for everything you taught me in dance along with humility, elegance and grace. Koti koti pranam,” she added.
Alongside the note, Madhuri posted a throwback picture of her doing mukhdas with Pandit Birju Maharaj. For the unversed, Pandit Birju Maharaj, who breathed his last on Monday, had worked with Madhuri in films like ‘Dil Toh Pagal Hai’, ‘Devdas’ and ‘Dedh Ishqiya’.
Bollywood in awe of Pushpa & Allu Arjun
Mumbai: Pushpa star Allu Arjun, the talk of the town, has absolutely impressed
his fans,audiences, actors in the South and also many bigwigs in Bollywood. The
stylish star with his emphatic performance has won the hearts of many in the Hindi
speaking regions. Now, Bollywood is all praise for Pushpa Raj aka Allu Arjun and
the movie, reiterate what the stylish star has said in the film, ‘Pushpa is not flower,
it is fire’. Completely entranced by Allu Arjun’s splendid work in “Pushpa”,
and also as the Hindi version in the North belt alone grossed Rs 100 crore
in box office collections in 25 days of its run, actors and big producers
in Bollywood have taken notice, and are now speaking about the
stylish star’s ability to charm viewers.
At a time when Allu Arjun has amassed a big fan following in
Hindi-speaking regions, there are reports of Bollywood producers lining up to cast him in their next Hindi films. Also, many
Hindi actors are showing interest to act in his upcoming pan-India movies. It is also reportedly said that producers are looking
to get Hindi dubbing or remake rights of the icon star’s upcoming films as they feel he will dominate the cinema space now.
The passion Allu Arjun put into his Pushpa Raj character is
so evident that people are just captivated by him.
LATA MANGESHKAR TO REMAIN UNDER SUPERVISION FOR A FEW MORE DAYS
MUMBAI : Giving a health update regarding legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar, her doctor on Sunday shared that the megastar will still remain in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), under the supervision of doctors for a few more days.
The Bharat Ratna recipient was admitted to Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai last week and her treatment is still going on. The 92-year-old star is suffering from corona as well as pneumonia. Dr Pratit Samdani who is treating the veteran singer said that “Lata ji is still in the ICU, she still that is why she is kept under the supervision of the doctor in the ICU.” “Lata ji will remain under the supervision of the doctor for a few more days, it is difficult to say how many days it will last. No one is allowed to meet.” The doctor also said that there is a need for people to pray for her recovery.
MOUNI ROY TO RETURN TO SMALL SCREEN AS A JUDGE ON REALITY SHOW
MUMBAI : After working in films like ‘Gold’, ‘Made in China’, and the yet-to-be-released ‘Brahmastra’, actor Mouni Roy is back to the small screen — the place where she first made her acting debut. Mouni is all set to appear as a judge on ‘Dance India Dance Li’l Masters Season 5’. Talking about the same, she said, “For me, dance is an expression. It is an amalgamation of various art forms. I am incredibly excited to be a part of Dance India Dance Little Masters as a judge. I can’t wait to watch the young kids showcasing their talent on such a huge platform.”
Mouni started her acting journey with TV shows and rose to fame with supernatural ‘Naagin’.
KURUKKU VAZHI IS A CRIME THRILLER: SHIRA GAARG
CHENNAI: What started as a surprising opportunity for actress Shira Gaarg to explore her passion became her career path once she started getting good reviews from reputed film critics for her role in her debut Tamil film Baby. Hailing from Bengaluru, Shira Gaarg was pursuing her college studies when a photoshoot caught the attention of director Balaji Sakthivel and his production team. They were looking for a fresh face for the movie Baby. She did not have any experience in acting then but after motivation from the director and support from her family she accepted the offer. Later after completion of her MBA she decided to take acting as her full time profession. Actress Shira Gaarg has recently completed the shoot for Tamil film titled Shot Boot Three directed by Arun Vaidyanathan and is currently shooting for her next movie Kurukku Vazhi directed by N.T. Nantha. In a candid conversation the actress avers, “Kurukku Vazhi is a crime thriller. It describes about what happens when people take short cut in life and how it would impact others. It is a very emotional role and the character has to go through mix of emotions. The story is about four people and what choices I make while dealing with them.” The film is produced by K Singh and A. Sharma. Apart from writing and directing the film, N.T. Nantha has also handled cinematography and composed the music. Apart from these projects, Shira Gaarg has also played the lead role in a Tamil web series Chewing Gum for Hotstar Network. She further added, “All my roles are unique and distinct. I am looking at playing meaty kind of roles. Fortunately the roles which I have played are all different and diverse.”
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