Shoma A Chatterji
21 February 2003
Kolkata: Arjo Bhattacharya could easily have fitted himself into the mould of a film star. Why? He is tall, fair and handsome. He is charming, too, and can impress you with his high knowledge quotient.
A non-resident Indian (Bhattacharya was based in the US until recently), he is now creating a new base in the city he was born in — Kolkata. Instead of pursuing his original business in computer hardware and software, he has chosen a new field for himself — producing films. It's true that he knows nothing about films, but he is a technocrat and was the founder and chief executive officer of Arcus Technology.
Arcus was a technology company offering silicon solutions for data communications and the mixed signal-embedded market. Arcus had offices in Bangalore, Singapore and in Fremont, California, where Bhattacharya and his family settled around two decades ago. His interest has now diversified into producing classic films and music albums in his home state, West Bengal, and to bring some order into the chaos that is Tollywood.
To the obvious question —“why films?“ — his answer is: “I explored several other fields but discovered that the film industry in Bengal already has brilliant talent, but needs fresh blood and was suffering for several reasons. They are:
- the distribution system is so poor that for the creative producer, collection problems dog his way right through and after his film has been released;
- lack of profits and good sources of funding force the producer to reduce his budget and produce films of inferior quality, which leads to the narrowing of an already regional market;
- the market narrows further when the audience discovers that the film is of poor quality; and
- directors fail to tap their creative potential for lack of proper business rapport with the producer and/or the distributor.
We thought that with the capital at our service, with excellent local management pros, and creative advisors like actor-director Victor Banerjee on the board, we might still be able to rid the industry of the above problems. And, at the same time, offer quality entertainment to a widening audience.“
The idea is great, but to turn it into reality is no easy task, as any entrepreneur would know. The first movie Arjo Entertainment (AE), the film production company Bhattacharya set up in Kolkata, made turned out to be a damp squib at the box-office, though it had an excellent star cast and was a typical masala mainstream film. The film, Antarghat, dished out the story of a surrogate father and his daughter, and contained a lot of melodious songs.