The face behind India’s most expensive film ever set to be made, ‘The Mahabharata’, is Shri Kumar Menon, a distinguished personality in the ad world, having created ad films with stars like Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Mohanlal, Akshay Kumar.
Not many know that this ace ad filmmaker from Kerala has an insatiable entrepreneur’s appetite. Known for his golden touch in advertisements that work wonders for brands, Menon’s journey from an ad maker to the director of India’s biggest motion picture to be made has been an arduous one.
In an exclusive interview with the Entrepreneur India, Shri Kumar Menon revealed what propelled him into the entrepreneurial journey at very young age and how he climbed his way up the ladder?
From An Ad Maker to India’s Biggest Motion Picture Director
“I was a student of chartered accountancy when the entrepreneurial bug bit me. I started my advertising journey at the age of 22,” he said.
The director-cum-entrepreneur is also the Managing Director of PUSH Integrated Communications, a creative agency.
“With time, the organization has spread to many key areas of communication, including strategic planning, public relations, experiential marketing, digital marketing and many more. Today, we steer communication strategy and make creative ad films for many regional, national & global brands,” Menon added.
Raising Investment For The Film
The mother of all potboilers ‘Mahabharata’ is yet to go on the shooting floor and the director has already raised a massive investment of INR 1,000 crore from a UAE-based Indian entrepreneur, BR Shetty.
The period film ‘Mahabharat’ is an adaptation of ‘Randamoozham’, a masterpiece written by Bharatiya Jnanpith awardee M.T Vasudevan Nair. The film will be produced in two parts and is scheduled to go on the shooting floor by September 2018. A media report stated that it would be released in early 2020.
Sealing a deal of such a huge amount at a dinner table is not easy. Menon’s relentless hard work and undeterred passion towards adding creative touch to whatever draws his attention, made it easy for him.
Menon told the Entrepreneur India, “Ours’ was a chance encounter at a family get-together in Dubai and we happened to get engaged in a conversation, which sort of veered to mythology, Indian epics. I was surprised when he expressed his wish of bringing ‘The Mahabharata’ on the big screen. At that very moment, I told him about my pursuit of making a film titled ‘Randamoozham’ based on the Sanskrit epic.”
“It so happened that Shetty, too, showed his interest in the movie making and asked whether he could be a part of the project. That was a divine calling,” recalled Menon.
In course of time, Menon gifted him a copy of M.T Vasudevan Nair’s novel and asked him to read it before taking a call. Luckily Menon received a call from Shetty within a week. The UAE businessman sought to enquire about the possibilities of turning the novel into a big-budget film.
“That one phone call was the breakthrough of our entire conversation, which we had a week before on the dinner table,” the gifted film-maker added.
“There Is Nothing That This Great Epic Doesn’t Have’
Asked about what made him and Shetty select ‘The Mahabharata’ out of a host of epics, Menon said, “The Mahabharata is the epic of all epics and I have grown up listening to the unending welter of stories that filled my childhood and youth.”
“Unlike other world epics like the Iliad and the Odyssey, Mahabharata is not known to the world. It is a great challenge attempting a movie on the same and I am blessed to have been provided the opportunity. It is my lifetime dream,” he said.
“With Shetty, things were too easy to manage. I just gave him a visual narration based on my perspective of the movie as a director and he was readily convinced,” Menon said and added, “Love for Indian epic mythologies has no boundaries for Shetty. He told me that money should never be a deterrent in bringing this epic to the celluloid as this has to be remembered and celebrated till the end of times.”
Menon On His Relationship With Mohanlal, The Lead Actor
“I admire Mohanlal as an actor and have worked with him on multiple projects. When I started thinking about ‘Randamoozham’, Mohanlal’s was the only image that fitted Bhima’s character in my mind. Veteran writer Nair also visualized Mohanlal for the role. There are several nuances to Bhima’s personality that can be brought to life on screen by the genius of Mohan Lal,” Menon stressed.
“I have watched most of his films and have been spellbound by his onscreen performances,” he added.
Will ‘Mahabharata’ Take Over 'Baahubali 2: The Conclusion'?
Whether it’s Bollywood or Tollywood, the diverse Indian film industry has broken all its previous records with one after another big-budget films that have set very high benchmarks worldwide. The recent epic drama ‘Baahubali 2: The Conclusion’, directed by extraordinaire SS Rajamouli, is one such film which has left audience mesmerized and completely astounded with its brilliant scale of production.The question which bothers all of us after the announcement of India’s biggest motion picture is whether Shri Kumar’s ‘Mahabharata’ will outperform ‘Baahubali 2: The Conclusion’ in terms of box office collection and in spreading its magic all around?