Cinema Entrepreneur

The Queen of South Indian Reality TV Rose from the Ashes to Fly High like a Phoenix

"I am not looking at targets. I don't want to work on numbers. I want to work on what my heart says"
The Queen of South Indian Reality TV Rose from the Ashes to Fly High like a Phoenix
Image credit: Entrepreneur India
Associate Editor, Entrepreneur.com
5 min read
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Television is among the most glamorous forms of media an entrepreneur can get associated it.

When you have a big family name to uphold, fast-growing peers and an unquenchable thirst to try what no one has ever done, it also becomes a herculean task to make a mark in this glamorous form of media.

Not many know this hidden gem from Andhra Pradesh who has not only made a mark in television, but has become the Queen of Reality TV in South India.

The daring & dauntless daughter of South India’s production king Ashwini Dutt, Swapna Dutt tasted success & failure all too soon in her life and is now only proud to have found the balance.

Runs in the Blood

“The reason I wanted to be in this massive ocean of cinema is the inspiration that my father is - the challenges he faced, the passion he had for making a film – it really drove me from within,” Dutt tells Entrepreneur India seated in a cabin whose walls adorn pictures of South India’s film industry dating back 50 years.

Her father's Vyjayanthi Movies is one of the biggest film production houses in Telugu cinema credited with producing some of the most iconic films in Telugu Cinema history.

In her aspiration to make a mark, she ventured into television production and started a company called Vaijayanti Televentures at a time when the whole reality TV concept didn’t exist in Andhra Pradesh.

That’s when I made a reality singing show after a 2 month research with ZEE Telugu; it changed the face of Telugu television, Dutt recalls.

“I was called by all channels from ETV, Gemini to MA TV; I was a channel driver for a couple of years. I then thought if I was the leader in such content why couldn't I broadcast it myself. I went ahead and started a channel called Local TV, a cable TV not a satellite one but failed miserably,” Dutt says.

Riding Solo

When everything collapses, it’s you alone says Dutt who took 8 long years to revive from the failure of her television channel.

“I felt stuck somewhere, in my youth, without even knowing how I would get out of the mess and my peers were searing ahead."

Giving up was not an option for her who had seen her father’s struggles from early days as a child. Her gut led her to emerge victorious like a phoenix from the ashes.  

“I have seen my dad falling & getting up. And I decided I needed to get myself together and go back into television content. Me and my sister started a production house; we evaluated if we lost, how much could we sustain,” says a feisty Dutt.

For her comeback, Dutt again went for the path less taken.

She shot a film at Mount Everest that turned out to be the sunrise of her career.

She is now aggressively working into TV production, making films and is now ready for her feature film, a biopic of a legendary actor called Savithri scheduled to release in March 2018.

Leaps & Bounds

Dutt has now decided to take up a 3-dimensional approach - TV, content-driven films and digital - to become the leader of content in South India.

“I have made a sustainable space in TV I can say, my own mark. In non-fiction space, I have done reality shows based out of Bangkok, Malaysia. So I have made a little mark for myself. I wouldn’t call myself the sheer winner of reality shows. I would say I have certainly made my mark. I want to make films which will be remembered after two generations,” says Dutt.

The graduate from the Ohio University has abundant exposure to realize the potential of digital media and it is her intention to experiment with the new, which is now driving her towards web-based content.

After having done a web-series for an OTT platform called YuppTV, she has signed a new one with Amazon. “I can emerge in OTT, I am hoping to make it big,” says Dutt who believes her ties in TV could be the reason that make her the first mover in the space.

She hopes to be able to put South India on the world map with content like temples of South India, cooking in South India among others.

Does she want to compete with other favourites in the industry such as Ekta Kapoor? She answer is one from her heart. 

“At this time of my life, I don’t want to become someone. I am not looking at targets. I don’t want to work on numbers. I want to work on what my heart says.”

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