BUSINESS - INTERVIEW
Dr. Sandeep Marwah
Founder and President of Marwah Studios and AAFT University of Media and Arts
Interview of Szilvia Szeszler
Dr. Sandeep Marwah is an outstanding renowned international media personality, with seven World records to his credit. He is the founder of Noida Film City and Marwah Studios and AAFT, AsianAcademy of Film and Television - now one of the best film schools of the World. Dr. Sandeep Marwah is associated with large number of television programs, feature films and training films. He is the producer of largest number of short films in the World. He has trained more than 19000 media professionals hailing from 145 countries of the World. He is the recipient of large number of National & International awards. He has been heading more than 100 national and international media and social organizations. He has been titled as Global Cultural Minister. He is also the President of International Chamber of Media & Entertainment Industry. He is now the Chancellor of AAFT University of Media and Arts and has been appointed as the Chief Scout for India.
„At the end of the day I still believe in Karma. That means you just have to work and leave the results to Almighty..”
It was not easy to organize the interview with Dr. Sandeep Marwah as he is very busy, but finally succeeded when he took a few days break in Himachal province. One main reason of making this interview is to pay tribute to his work and the significant, 30th Anniversary of his Marwah Studios and another important purpose is that we wished to introduce him to our readers – who is one of the the most significant personality of the Indian Media, Art and Movie industry and already keeps a fruitful and long relationship with the Hungarian world of artists.
- First of all I would like to congratulate you for the 30th Anniversary of the MarwahStudios. How could you achieve it, how did you begin, and why did you begin just this kind of activity? What motivated you?
- I have to go back to my school, to my college, where I have always done such extra curricular activities like film, music, tv, dance, drama, recitation and elocution that I participated in my school; when I reached my college, I continued with the same and the Principal of my college was very happy because I brought a lot of energy, a lot of bubbliness at the college by starting a drama society, music society, what they did not have before my enrollment.So for three years of the college we had a wonderful time and I created a wonderful niche for myself. I stood for elections, college and university election which I won and I ruled my college for one year. Later I joined my father’s business, starting with orginizing things for my father but I still made it a point to continue with the theatre which was very close to my heart.
I slowly realized that I did nearly hundred shows on stage, working with the best directors of the country and developed a beautiful taste for myself of acting.That’s how it began. I went to Mumbai, staying there for sometime and I signed three films to start with; but unfortunately before a film could start, the producer of the film passed away. I was very disheartened for a few weeks but then I recovered from that loss, came back to Delhi and decided that why I need to leave my city New Delhi to Mumbai for a job, why can’t we have a job right here in New Delhi and why can’t we have a film and television business here in New Delhi? This I’m talking about 1984-85.
In 1986 I made up my mind and prepared a project report to have a film city in North India. I was declared a madman, everyone thought that he is a crazy film guy and a film lover, that’s all. But somehow I dreamt and I thought somehow there has to be a beginning for this kind of a business. Then I designed this film city and I approched different departments in New Delhi. Everyone outrightly refued my proposal.Many of them did not even open the file.Someone even threw the file on my face. They said, you are crazy,it is impossible to make it in this part of the country.
To my good luck I met the Chairman of Noida and I submited the project to him also. He was overhelmed and overexcited. He said, that a new city is coming up here, we have the land and we are looking for new projects.Make a nice thorough project out of it and submit it to us. I spent some hours, some days, made a big thick project out of it and submitted it to the authorities. It took nearly one year to get the clearance, but in December of 1987 the project got its clearance and in March, 1988 allotments of land were made. Initially we were six people, then later we were twelve people and now we are sixteen people in film city and I was declared as founder of Noida Film City.So that’s the beginning of a new business, a new setup in North India. And then God has been very kind,so no looking back.
- What are you the most proud of?
- I am most proud of Noida Film City itself, because Noida Film City today is the fastest growing film city in the world. Its a hundred acre complex, seventy five acres outdoor, twenty-five acres indoor, 16 studios, and about 17 000 people working in this campus of Noida in three shift of eight hours each. 350 channels are being broadcast, to 162 countries 24 hours by 7days a week. And the cascading effect is that about 150 000 people are earning their bread because of this film city. I am so happy and lucky that I could do something for my nation.
- It is now a media empire and you are the king of this empire.
- I am just the founder, the Government is the owner. I have only one studio out of the sixteen, we are sixteen players now, sixteen different companies running there and I am one of them.When it comes to Marwah Studios, I am proud of Marwah Studios,because in these 30 years we have churned out 4500 television programs for more than 50 channels, I am associated with 125 feature films, I have made about 5000 training films in my campus and my production company has made about 3000 short films which is the highest number in the world and I am the lucky world record holder for the same, in all I have given opportunity to about 10 000 media professionals from more than 100 countries of the world. So that gives me immense satisfaction.
- I was looking around at AAFT University page and I saw that it is very diversified. Not only media but fashion, hospitality and many other field where you give education for the young students. How did it begin to build it up and what were the first classes, the first subjects, how did it develop and why that way?
- Yes, from 1988 till 1991 it took three years to build up the structure. In 1991 I started the studios and during two years I learned the tricks of the trade. In 1993 I realized that it is all right that Noida Film City is built up, but who’s going to work? I realized that what we need is man power from this trade .This was the time when I decided that we must have a film school in this part of the country so that we can create a wonderful manpower out of it. Let creative people come, learn the techniques of the trade and start working for this setup and that’s how we started this media and televison, film institute, so in 1993 we got into it. I started with four courses, forty students and then we slowly extended our media and television courses. I realized that only media and television is not enough because there are a lot of allied and associated educational fields like fashion, design, animation, hospitality, tourism, law, business and then performing arts, acting and all that encouraged and motivated me to establish 14 different departments and 14 different colleges. When I realized that I can handle all this and I can run all these different departments as different schools then we opted that we must have a university because that is the ultimate that is what will give authentication, a mark to my effort in education. Then we worked very hard for it and we were designing, re-designing, adding, subtracting, correcting all of the courses on a quarterly basis, four times a year I used to go through my courses, rectify them, to make them a world-class course and I am now very happy that we have established today the AAFT University of Media and Arts which is the first film university in the world.
- There is a question in me, namely that why was not enough for you with your outstanding look to be „simply” an actor. Your presence and look, performance skills would guarantee the success; so what inspired you to make such a hard work, to make so many efforts, what motivated you for that?
- Acting is only one discipline of the whole show and I realized that I can do much bigger, better and smarter than just acting. Acting, let’s be very frank, is a kind of self-centered job; you have to think about yourself as an actor, you have to think about your own dialogues, you have to think about your positioning and presentation but from the very beginning I had an attitude to work for society, for the people, for the country, so that’s probably where I thought this profession may not suit my ideology.So I decided to go in for a film studio where I could cater to so many film makers at the same time, then I thought of a film school where I can entertain large number of students from all India and abroad then I thought of a university where I can serve the nation in a much better way and then followed by many social, cultural, art, non-political bodies which I was trying to promote and have been running for a longtime.
- Your personality is so much supportive, you always think about others, how to help, how to promote them and not only the young ones, like university students but also others, just like us journalists, diplomats, it is yourpersonality. Do you think it is a kind of mission of you?
- Yes, obviously now, after creating more than hundred different organizations for film, tv, media, art, culture, print, film, myself, students, film makers, professionals I am very happy to create one other very important organization which is called World Peace Development and ResearchFoundation. This organization has given me an opportunity to touch 196 countries all over the world, to invite people from all over the world and my sole aim,thebottom line for all that work which I have put in means love, peace and unity through art and culture.That’s what I believe in, that’s my mission now.I’ve been changing my priorities of mission- from a film city to a film studio to a film school to a university, to probably the best festivals for the nation. We have given 10 festivals to the nation which include among others the Global Film Festival, Global Festival of Journalism, Global Literary Festival, Global Fashion and Design Week, International Week of Cellphone Cinema, AAFT Festival of Short Films, countrywise film festivals, Woman Film Festival,we have large number of festivals which we do around the year and luckily all of them are successful.It has helped me to invite more than 2 million people to Noida Film City from almost 145 countries of the world. And that’s film tourism.
- You pay so much attention for diplomats, for national holidays you are always ready and up-to-date with the events of certain countries.
- Yes, it is because we created a chamber, it is called the International Chamber of Media and Entertainment Industry.Probably this is the first one of its kind in the world which is dedicated to media and entertainment industry. The idea of this chamber is to support all those people who believe that the world is one family and also to support the vision of our honorable Prime Minister to develop the best of relation with each and every country of the world. I am very happy that we have been able to reach to an extent of more than 60 countries and their governments have nominated us as their Cultural Ambassador, Brand Ambassador, Chair for the Cultural Forum and we are working wholeheartedly for each and every country. We are launching scholarships, film festivals for these countries, student exchange programs and we are honoring the people coming from these countries by way of workshops, seminars, symposiums, connecting with people in art and culture especially; it is like a nonstop excercise.So I have atleast one important person from somewhere from the globe talking, exchanging views to give me energy to do the next one.
- Your family is the most significant actor family and dinasty. Your son is also an outstanding actor. Did he ask from you any suggestion, did you influence him to this carreer?
- I feel my self very lucky, my both sons are very keen on television and media. My younger son Akshay is working with me, my elder son is working with me, as well as pursuing acting.It is an open world, I have told them that in case you want to be in acting there is no problem, keep acting on your mind to make some good films but then keep on working hard, he has acted in very import feature films like Fugly and Raagdesh. He has also worked in short films, as well as he was the brand ambassador of Vogue,from here he can fly to any heights.
- What are the next plans and targets?
- Now Iam concentrating on my University. I want to establish this university as the finest international seat of learning, and once this is achieved, I would love to get back into feature films and its production. I’ve got so many contacts all over the world and invitations from all over the world but its so sad that we cannot move because of the pandemic but I think that once these things are over I would like to fly to different countries and would like to see new places, meet new people, that’s what gives you energy to work with that country.
- What are your favourite destinations you like to visit, let it be city or country?
- I love every new country I visit, before the pandemic I visited Central Asia, I was in Uzbekistan, I was in Azerbaijan before that I was in Turkey in USA and in the UK. I am very happy that I have seen 30-40 countries. London is always a centre point every time I visit the western world. Nepal, Singapore, Hong-Kong are also my favourites. My next trip will be to Malaysia, Myanmar then Cambodia and Vietnam, these countries are my next target.
- Do you plan to make a film here, in Budapest or plan any of your activities to do here?
- My relation with Hungary is fantastic, ten years back when the first time I was there and met 10-15 people of creative arts we decided to create an Indo-Hungarian Film and Cultural Forum and they made me the Chairman and the President of that Forum, since then I’ve been handling the show. Probably I am the first Indian to be honored by Hungary 7 times. Seven times I was in Hungary and everytime I visited, there was a surprise, a beautiful award from this beautiful country. I love Budapest, it is a beautiful place, so much of heritage, so much of energy, people are so nice and kind they are so helpful and love creative arts, they love Indians. I attended many significant events, I attended a few festival like Shoot for Life and Shoot for Earth. I have so many friends in Hungary, coming to Hungary is just like coming home. We are promoting Hungary with more than 20 events in India. Anyone who visits India, especially from creative arts, never misses to visit Marwah Studios.
- What more do you think you could achieve, you have endless awards and achieved everything.
- I am a workaholic, I love my work and I believe only in working. I have never worked for rewards, trust me. My organization has been awarded almost 700 times from all over the word.At the end of the day I still believe in Karma. That means you just have to work, leave the results to Almighty. If your intentions are good, if you are on the right path, work for the society, you can never fail, that’s what I believe in.