Mumbai: Venture Capital Fund to Encourage Socially Relevant Films

By Quaid Najmi

Mumbai, May 30 (IANS) Movie makers interested in making films concerning social issues but lacking the necessary funding can now look up to a venture capital fund for help.

Two former investment bankers, Vicky Dhir and Aditya Mehta, have launched a "Cause Entertainment Fund" (CEF) which will invest in socially conscious yet commercially viable films.

The fund by their financial services company, DM Capital Advisors (DMCA), is backed by an experienced corporate board comprising industry stalwarts like Uday Singh, former chief executive of PVR Cinema and Sony Pictures, Conde Nast India's Alex Kuruvilla, Man Jit Singh of Sony Pictures, and Shridhar Subramanium of Sony Music.

Though a new concept in India, venture capital funds catering specifically to social causes are common in developed countries. The CEF founders believe in using cinema as an instrument of social change.

"The entertainment media has tremendous power to make an impact and act as a tool for social change," Mehta told IANS.

Dhir said many people make movies but very few are able to make these commercial successes. Consequently they are forgotten.

"This is where we would like to enter - identify the content, its social action or initiative, how it can help achieve social change and then plan out other things," he added.

"After the content review, we shall carry out a financial review, then other film-related aspects like the star cast, the directors, and all other required inputs that go into making a good film," said Dhir.

Mehta said they would aim at achieving a "double bottomline" - the movie should be a success commercially as well as socially.

In this genre, the duo identified recent movies like "3 Idiots", "Taare Zameen Par," "Lagaan," "Munnabhai MBBS," "Rang De Basanti," and "Lage Raho Munnabhai".

"Initially, we plan to be involved with

2-3 movies a year, and more after a couple of years. Then we shall also look at the regional film industries. There is no dearth of good movies being made in India, but we shall proceed slow and steady," said Mehta.

Asked whether the CEF would assist the promotion, distribution and marketing of films which are ready, Dhir said if such movies fitted into the DMCA's criteria, they would be game for it.

"In fact, we have with us Uday Mehta who is a specialist in precisely this aspect and would go a long way to help such filmmakers," Mehta said.

DMCA also hopes to dedicate a portion of its revenues for social equity, investing in microfinance initiatives and running awareness programmes for various social causes associated with the banner's films.

At a subsequent stage, it will explore the small screen.

The duo, accompanied by others, are on their way to the US and the Gulf countries to conduct road shows, meetings and conferences to raise funds.



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