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Meet Sanjay Chhabria, The Karan Johar Of The Marathi Entertainment Industry Chhabria started Everest in 2003 as a video publishing company and acquired video copyrights of Marathi feature films and released them as VCD's and DVD's.

By Kabir Singh Bhandari

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What Chhabria is most excited about currently is Everest's recently released production, Maharashtra Shaheer, a biopic on the influential Marathi folk singer, writer and theatre actor, Krushnarao Sable.

Marathi entertainment has come a long way since 2003, with the digitization of cinemas opening up business significantly in 2007 when 'Sade Made Teen' was the first widely released film at that time. 'Mee Shivajiraje Bhosale Boltoy' showed the theatrical potential for Marathi films and the Marathi Television industry too has grown exponentially, with Star Pravaah enjoying a TRP of 450 Plus in the urban and rural markets. If you ask consumers of Marathi films about the biggest theatrical hits, they would name 'Pawan Khind', 'Dharma Veer', 'Sher Shivraj', 'Boyz 3', 'Time Pass 3', 'Ved' and 'Vaalvi'.

In this scenario, one name that carries a lot of weight is that of Sanjay Chhabria, founder of Everest Entertainment, known in the inner circles as the Karan Johar of the Marathi film industry. 1. Everest, is by far the largest aggregator of film content to Marathi GEC (General Entertainment Channels), movie channels, music channels, digital and OTT platforms. They have collaborated with Amazon Prime, Reliance Jio, HOOQ, Hungama, Tata Sky and most recently Netflix, and their YouTube channel 'Everest Marathi' has over 2 million subscribers.

Chhabria started Everest in 2003 as a video publishing company and acquired video copyrights of Marathi feature films and released them as VCD's and DVD's. By 2008 they were one of the leading home video distributors of Marathi feature films with the rights of films such as 'Satchyat Aat Gharaat', 'Aga Bai Arrecha', 'Sade Made Teen', 'Valu', 'Matichya Chuli' and many such hit titles.

Around 2006 alongside the video copyrights, they started acquiring the electronic media rights of a lot of Marathi films, one of them being 'Matichya Chuli', produced by Mahesh Manjrekar. That was the beginning of Chhabria's association with Manjrekar, and they went to produce 'Mee Shivajiraje Bhosale Boltoy', (2009) which was a huge success. The game changing steps for Everest came in the form of content aggregation and syndication and later production.

In totality, they have produced 25 films, the latest being 'Maharashtra Shaheer' and they've acquired the rights to over 250 titles, the Dada Kondke Library being the most recent one and their productions have won 3 National Awards and 15 state awards.

But what Chhabria is most excited about currently is Everest's recently released production, Maharashtra Shaheer, a biopic on the influential Marathi folk singer, writer and theatre actor, Krushnarao Sable. Directed by Kedar Shinde, the lead role is played by Ankush Choudhari and the music is by Ajay-Atul. Through his songs and plays, Sable had contributed to the freedom of India and the formation of Maharashtra. Popularly known as 'Shaheer Sable', he went on to sing the patriotic song 'Jai Jai Maharashtra Majha' which was recently given the status of Rajya Geet in Maharashtra. The film employed solid marketing initiatives, with the poster release by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, social media activities, influencer marketing and Instagram filters. MNS chief Raj Thackeray launched the teaser, while NCP chief Sharad Pawar launched the song 'Jai Jai Maharashtra Majha'. The reason it was planned in such a way was because the film is about Marathi pride and culture, and they wanted eminent leaders endorse the film so that it reached out to the target audience.

The author can be reached at bkabir@entrepreneurindia.com and Instagram.com/kabirsinghbhandari

Kabir Singh Bhandari

Former Senior Assistant Editor

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