He is the young gun who expanded the business his late father and music industry tycoon Gulshan Kumar created with T Series. Today, under his leadership, T Series is the world’s largest YouTube channel and is a leader in content creation. Here is what he told us about the Mogul, the biopic on his late father who was mercilessly slain by the underworld.
You were thrown into the business due to the untimely murder of your father, the late Gulshan Kumar. What was the first year like, years back?
The first year was my biggest struggle. I was still studying and was thrown into work that was completely different. I realized there is so much more to the business than buying and selling music. It sounds very easy but there is so much to it. My father was an expert in creating devotional content as well film songs. He had already bought the music of 18-19 films at that point and I started by marketing them. The journey was slow, was well received and then we started replicating his model. People were reluctant initially but then they took to it well. I had no idea of policies and taxation too that I learnt at that point. We made non- film albums, remixes, devotional music, bought music. The core team of 5-6 people are still with me.
When did you feel that you could now manage the business?
I kept learning from my mistakes. In those days everyone had relationship with a certain music label. For instance, Rakesh Roshan sir used to work with Saare gaa maa but soon he started working with us. So, did Vidhu Vinod Chopra who did all his films with me. Mahesh Bhatt and my dad already had a strong association. It was my father’s dream to be known as an entertainment company rather than just be associated with music. In 2000 I started venturing into film production – we did Tum Bin, Bhool Bhulaiya etc but it was an occasional thing. But for the last few years, we are into it majorly.
Tell us about your future films?
We have several films such as Bhuj – The Pride of India, which is based on a real story on the bombed Bhuj runway that was recreated by Kutchi artisan women in one night amidst bombings around. Then we have Balakot with Gatuu and Sanjay Leela Bhansali. We are also remaking the Hrishikesh Mukherjee classic Chupke Chupke with Rajkummar Rao playing Dharamji’s role, Thank God, Ek Villain Returns and Adipurush. You would know that we won 13 Filmfare awards this year. While Anubhav Sinha directed Thappad starring Taapse bagged 7 awards including ‘Best Film’, ‘Best Story’, ‘Best Actor-Female’, ‘Best Background Score’, ‘Best Editing’, ‘Best Sound Design’ and ‘Best Playback Singer-Male’, the historical action film starring Ajay Devgn-Saif Ali Khan Tanhaji : The Unsung Warrior directed by Om Raut won 4 awards for ‘Best Director’, ‘Best Action’, ‘Best Actor in a Supporting Role- Male’ and ‘Best VFX’.
What about the much talked about Mogul?
Mogul based on my late dad’s life and is a dream project – the best thing we will do for our company. It is an emotional film. Subhash Kapoor has written it. It needs a lot of prep. The actor needs to adapt himself to look like my dad. It will take him 7-8 months to transform. Aamir Khan is essaying the role and will co-produce the film as well. He is finishing Laal Singh (Chaddha) and once he finishes he will get on to our film.Tentatively we will start the film in 2022. It should be a 2023 release or end of 2022. Because of the lockdown, the film was delayed by a year. I have to be involved in the writing because writing is the crux of it.
How inspired are you by your dad?
His passion for music was unbelievable though we never had music playing at home. He used to listen to songs in the car, outside etc. So many songs were composed in his car especially the Aashiqui songs. Today we are replicating what he did with cassettes and cds on the digital space. We are the world’s number one Youtube channel and we are present across all streaming sites. Now OTT platforms are approaching us to create content because they know our strength in music as well. We will master that space too!