Karan Johar’s production company, founded by his father Yash Johar in 1976, is a
romcom factory if you ignore two films where romance is not the pivot of the stories (Kurbaan and Wake Up Sid). The company got its first hit in 1980 with Dostana, with Amitabh Bachchan and Shatrughan Sinha in the lead. The Johars are hit-makers: Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kal Ho Naa Ho, Dostana. Their last, I Hate Luv Storys, also did fairly well at the box office. The next scheduled release under the banner is We are Family, a remake of the Hollywood film Stepmom. A 2010 reincarnation of Yash Raj Films with technically superior skill productions, Dharma is now a launching pad for young directors.
Amitabh Bachchan Corp
Amitabh Bachchan launched his own banner, Amitabh Bachchan Corp. Ltd (ABCL), in 1996, as a company that would produce big-ticket commercial films, as well as music and DVDs. Its first production, Tere Mere Sapne, bombed at the box office and after a few more unsuccessful films the company was mired in financial difficulties. In the early 2000s, Bachchan relaunched the company as Amitabh Bachchan Corp. In the last two years, the firm has entered the regional language film segment with Umesh Kulkarni’s Marathi film Vihir, and it made Paa last year with both father and son in it. The company has shifted its focus many times over the years, looking for commercial success.
Red Chillies Entertainment
Shah Rukh Khan (SRK) and his wife Gauri Khan launched their banner Red
Chillies Entertainment in 2002, and followed up with films such as Chalte Chalte, Paheli (a commercial failure, but India’s official entry to the Oscars), Om Shanti Om, a blockbuster, Billu and My Name is Khan (with Dharma Productions). No longer just a film production company, it has ventured into special effects with a specialized banner called Red Chillies VFX, as well as entertainment related to sports and television programming. Red Chillies has never promoted films of a certain kind. The only criterion so far: SRK has to be in it. The next, being filmed now, is Ra.One, a superhero film directed by Anubhav Sinha.
Anil Kapoor Film Company
After nearly two decades as an actor, Anil Kapoor launched his banner in 2002 and
its first critically successful film was My Wife’s Murder, starring Suchitra Krishnamoorthi, Nandana Sen and the actor himself. He also launched theatre director Feroz Abbas Khan’s debut feature film Gandhi, My Father, based on a play of the same name in 2007, which was received well by critics but was a commercial failure. In his next, Aisha, releasing on 6 August, his daughter Sonam Kapoor plays the lead opposite Abhay Deol, a romcom adaptation of the novel Emma. Just eight years old, Anil Kapoor Film Company is still struggling to find an identity.
Actor Saif Ali Khan teamed up with the producer of Homi Adajania’s Being Cyrus to launch Illuminati Films in 2007. Its first film Love Aaj Kal, directed by Imtiaz Ali and released in 2009, was the first major hit of the year and Khan, in a double role, had his first major star success. The banner’s second film, on the floors now, is Sriram Raghavan’s Agent Vinod, a crime thriller that spans more than two cities, with Khan himself and his girlfriend Kareena Kapoor in the lead. Khan has often said that he has plans to introduce niche films under his banner but there have been no concrete announcements yet.
Balaji Motion Pictures
After the success of Balaji Telefilms Ltd, Ekta Kapoor launched Balaji Motion Pictures in the late 1990s with a few box-office winners such as Kyaa Kool Hai Hum and Bhool Bhulaiyaa in its nascent years. The company has turned more experimental, beginning with Dibakar Banerjee’s Love Sex Aur Dhokha this year—it attained cult status and did well at the box office. Kapoor says she wants to encourage a variety of writing and sensibilities. The next film, which releases on 30 July, is Milan Luthria’s Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai, based on the life of Haji Mastan—in look and music, an interesting throwback to the 1970s.