Bangalore: Art meets money at Chennai-based Evam Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. Run by two young marketing management graduates, the theatre enterprise is all set to change the perception that the stage makes for a pauper, instead, making serious money doing English stage plays.
“We wanted to be in the business of storytelling. Our idea was to make people’s life easy…give them something to laugh about, not just in the auditorium but also when they think about the play,” says Sunil Vishnu K., one of the two Evam founders. He co-founded the business with fellow Mudra Institute Of Communications, Ahmedabad, graduate Karthik Kumar in 2003.
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Evam puts up both adaptations and original productions and runs about 70 shows every year across Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore, selling at least 30,000 tickets annually.
It also runs the “Happy Factory”, wherein it organizes workshops for firms, schools and colleges, taking care of all their entertainment and training needs. The workshops are basically plays, full of humour, targeted at employees and students, designed to energize individuals and bust stress. It also creates customized content for a brand, where they get the chance to tell their stories using theatre. “We are playing a game for a bigger audience. Theatre is a performing art. There is no reason why it should be run on grants,” says Vishnu.
Evam’s future plans include going national with their next two public shows, which are based on Chetan Bhagat’s novels—One night @ the Call Center and Five Point Someone. With these plays, the firm expects to sell 150,000 tickets. Its future plans include “d sound” and “d light”—wherein Evam will show and train people on how sound and light can add drama to life. Evam plans to add cinema to its portfolio in two years. “We would like to make a Khosla ka Ghosla kind of movie,” says Vishnu, referring to a 2006 comedy hit.
The firm, which turned in revenues of Rs65 lakh in fiscal 2008, expects Rs1.5 crore this fiscal and Rs7 crore in fiscal 2010. Vishnu says, though Evam, a profit-making entity, would like to raise capital to scale up, it doesn’t have an immediate plan. “We don’t want to give up a stake at this juncture.” Going public is their long-term plan.
Vishnu says one of the biggest challenges he faces is getting urban Indians to try out theatre. In order to attract people to their plays, Evam gives out free passes to colleges and companies. “Once they come to our show, I’m sure they will come back. The battle is to bring them in for the first time,” he says, counting a cable TV connection, a Shah Rukh Khan movie, a mall, or even a beach as competition.
Investor Tripat Preet Singh says Evam has a unique business model taking theatre into offices and educational institutes. He, however, feels it is important for the firm to concentrate on a few areas and become successful in them, such as public and corporate shows. “The firm needs to grow to a level of maturity. It is still at a very early stage. They need to create success in their verticals to make their venture attractive to investors,” says Singh, senior associate, NEA Indo-US Ventures.
Evam has brand associations with Royal Sundaram Alliance Insurance Co. Ltd and Bharti Airtel Ltd. It has six full-time employees and the actors are mostly professionals, working with them on a contract basis.