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A true maverick wizard

Dhruv Jagasia is a music whiz, entertainment professional, film producer and add to that the reluctant role of a star creator who can turn dust into gold.

Anshu Khanna

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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.

Dhruv Jagasia
Dhruv Jagasia

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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