In conversation with Mr. Anant Roongta, Managing Director at Famous Studios, India. Set up in 1946, Famous Studios provides a legacy of world class tech, talent and infrastructure, and continues to thrive and flourish in the Media and Entertainment industry. It aims to unlock, inspire, and nurture the imagination of creative storytellers
Managing Director at Famous Studios
Market Positioning and Competitive Edge
Anant Roongta: The overall consensus about India as a global power is growing in the ranks in almost every segment. One of the biggest takeaways for the M&E sector from a global perspective has been the soft power, be it music, or reaching the Oscars or Golden Globe. That itself speaks volumes of how thought processes and ambitions have changed in the content creators in India. They are not just thinking local anymore, they are thinking global.
Even if you look at India as a country – massive country, multicultural, multi-lingual, films like RRR (not in Hindi) are being enjoyed across the globe because technology allows it to be localised and dubbed. At the end of the day, it’s about relatable stories, be it mythology, or what we go through in our daily lives.
Anant Roongta: It’s been quite a ride! I have had two stints at Famous.
From 2009 – 2014 : predictable stuff was going on in the industry and there was not much innovation
2014 – 2018: I was part of a sports tourism company where I was exposed to raw entrepreneurship.
2018: I came back to my family business as the industry was changing. It was the right time to come back and re-energize the business.
My father came into the business in the mid-1980s – at that time post-production was happening in the traditional way, and not digitally. But in Germany, a couple of big companies launched telecines and we were one of the first companies to bring in telecines in India and applied for a licence to the Ministry of I&B in 1985 which started the post-production revolution.
We also entered the rentals business like camera rentals and overall the idea was to build the business as an ecosystem. At that point in time, the TV commercials business started picking up and Famous came to be termed as the “Mecca of Advertising”.
The journey continued and we had the first international grade Sound Studio built by renowned acoustic consultant, Andy Munro. We also entered the animation business in India including, stop motion and clay animation in 1998. The brand Famous House of Animation has now become Famous House of Artists wherein we have retained FHOA.
The business has expanded since then and now we have three facilities in Mumbai and one in Hyderabad.
In 2018 we tried to change the thought process and also launched a co-working space with the idea for it to become a creative ecosystem where external mentors, investors and new film-makers can come in.
We produced a film that was sold to Disney+ Hotstar, to get a taste of filmmaking in today’s generation. We put a lot of effort into new tech including Unreal Engine, Blender. We almost secured a partnership with Epic Games who were to open their Unreal Engine Lab in Bombay. Unfortunately the partnership fell off because of COVID.
However, post COVID, the industry has exploded even further and we will enter the Events segment as well in 2024 and offer value there as well.
- Broadcasters (Studio Rentals) – Last year’s IPL was fully broadcast from here
- Post-production for Brands
- Film and long formats
- Potential international collaborations both for Services and IP
Partnerships and Collaborations
Anant Roongta: Since we’re primarily in the service business, any strategic partner globally will help because if there’s a big studio out of say Brazil, US, there is a certain quantum of content that needs to be churned out which needs to be processed and serviced. They’ll always look at APAC countries for a good deal and reasonable level of quality so that opportunity will always be there. It’s just that certain traditional outsourced businesses are too commoditized now. We can take a step further in the creative side of things than that and do more – understand their requirements and then build a team around it and partner so that there is a comfort factor.
There is a huge Asian diaspora living in the US and there is a great deal of interest about history, culture, food, etc. They are hungry to consume content coming out of India. There is an opportunity to co-produce content there and we will welcome that approach because of our reach within the market here and the legacy of 78 years we can offer to foreign customers and are happy to collaborate as we have the insights and the processing capabilities.
Next step for expansion would be to pick up work for outsourcing in commercials and long format and immersive. Other side would be the actual content creation , IP and production side, which could be a catalyst.
Anant Roongta: The key pitch is the country itself. Last 2-3 years, every city/town has a story to tell – there are unique perspectives. The city is only 10-15% of the nation and outside that there are so many stories to tell. We have enough creative people who can make it look fascinating on the screen. I think the country is the selling point.
Anant Roongta: How I get the pulse of any market is by studying the diversity. If you look at the UAE, 85% of the people are not Emiratis and are from across the globe. End of the day, they have money and are investing in high quality infrastructure but how does the infra yield an ROI? You need the right people to run the show. In Saudi, a classic example is NEOM and how they are pushing the media side of things. Culturally also MBS (Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia – Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, also known by his initials MBS or MbS) is making an effort to open borders, boost tourism, make it easier to shoot, open theatres – things that were earlier no-no in that part of the world.
Dubai is easy to do business, connectivity is good be it from the US or India. I believe the culture in ME and North Africa overlaps with India, taste, food, culture within families. In Egypt, Turkey, UAE there is a big fascination for Bollywood. SRK (Shah Rukh Khan) is a name for himself. Dubai is going to be the centre of the world in the next 4-5 years. Also whatever content is getting produced in that region, some part of it is going via Dubai – be it finance, post production, or actual generation of content or distribution. So it’s an interesting time to explore where a studio like us with all the infra, innovation and creativity add value to that market. There are many other industries apart from M&E like Education, Healthcare, Defense which need content production as well and we can explore that.
Anant Roongta: Yes, and the accessibility as well. Today it’s very important to have one foot outside. We have never done it – we have been a family business traditionally run, with certain core value, principles. But why not take those values and systems and offer it as an edge to content creators outside. So, we are aggressively looking at meeting consultants, meeting people who can guide us in a straightforward and blunt way. And if we need to develop some capabilities to enter those markets then we are happy to do it. We are continuously doing so.
Studio Facilities & Technological Innovations
Anant Roongta: The two facilities in Mumbai are for Advertising and Long format while the facility in Hyderabad is for Visual effects and the future of VFX, and can handle both an ad commercial as well as long format.
Anant Roongta: Yes, it has been so till now. If I look at my Balance Sheet, Commercials business last year was at 60:40, next year it should be more like 30:70. The per client ticket value for a long format is much larger than a post or TV commercial.
Anant Roongta: The industry always has a point of view. Many research papers come out all over the globe. But there’s a gut feeling that one gets. Immersive is not only Augmented, XR, Mixed, VR. I’m talking of augmented more as sensory experience for a consumer. We’re looking at exploring opportunities from a B2B side of things which means expanding offerings to brands which we are already working with in the TV commercial space. Or totally a greenfield business where we launch our IP in building consumer experiences around creativity, tech that impact the world and create 2-3 day events.
Everyone is looking for the right collaborator, right partner. We have the infra, we have the space, towards a certain degree the team strength to create content around a new idea. Any collaborator who comes in will always find value. Hopefully will launch a couple of new products by the second half of the year.
Visual Effects in Films & Post – Production – Carefully building a team who have shared vision. We are also committed to help them achieve their own goals.
International expansion: There is both a B2B and B2C angle in both advertising and long format. Looking at MENA, USA and the West. We don’t want to spread ourselves too thin. We want to first figure out what the opportunities are and then pick 2 or 3 and go from there. It has to be a focussed approach. 2024 has started well and we’ve had a great few meetings already. Next 6 months are going to be about meeting people, narrowing down and taking the next step.
Famous Studios' Latest Work
About Famous Studios:
Founded in 1946, Famous Studios emerged as a beacon in Mumbai’s dream industry, epitomizing a dream-turned-reality. Initially venturing into Indian cinema during pre-Independence India, it has since evolved into a 110,000 sq ft hub, recognized by the Dadasaheb Phalke and Indian Motion Picture Association, providing turnkey content solutions. Awards aside, the true reward lies in the joy and fulfillment of countless dream-weavers within its walls.
- All-Inclusive Post-Production Expertise: Famous Studios offers end-to-end post-production services, covering editing, color correction, finishing, and more, providing a comprehensive solution for diverse media needs.
- Cutting-Edge Facilities: With Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos certifications, Famous Studios ensures advanced audio and video post-production quality, prioritizing best practices and content security.
- Visual Effects Mastery: Specializing in VFX, CGI, and animation, Famous Studios excels in various techniques, including rotomation, animatics, and fluid simulations, catering to a wide range of projects.
- Trusted by Industry Leaders: Collaborations with major clients like Disney+ Hotstar, Prime Video, and Netflix showcase Famous Studios’ reliability and ability to deliver high-quality content consistently.
- International Recognition: As Asia’s oldest award-winning film studio, Famous Studios has received prestigious accolades, including the Dadasaheb Phalke and FICCI BAF Awards, solidifying its commitment to excellence in media and entertainment.