"I feel every businessman is and always remains an entrepreneur as long as he is open for the winds of change, adapting to newer circle of people and technology with having an open mind towards the nature of business.
The day all this ends he or she shall be termed as an Emeritus than an entrepreneur. My journey started with being an event planner to politics to a digital marketer and then the owner of the first standalone Marathi Digital Channel- PLANET MARATHI." Said Akshay Bardapurkar, Head and Founder, Planet Marathi.
In an interview with MediAvataar India, Akshay poured his heart out on Marathi entertainment industry and how he is trying to pull it all together to fan this fire of emancipation in the world of already enriched regional heritage, his earnest attempt to put it on the global pedestal through Planet Marathi.
Here is the complete Q&A.......
MediAvataar: What made you start Planet Marathi?
Akshay: Planet Marathi was born out of sheer passion towards the Marathihood. The entire gamut of Marathi world was somewhere lost in spite of being known as an ancient language and culture of varied passionate people.
People from this society per say, have reached places and etched names, yet its striving for that recognition which probably a Tamil or a Telegu linguistic society or for that matter even Punjabi have been able to achieve.
Inspite of being the commercial capital, Mumbai which is also known for its film industry was somewhere lost and reduced down to a few Marathi characters played on screen as a police havaldar, a kaamwalibai ( maid servant), a corrupt politician named after a marathi surname or a kind of koli song.
Content and its projection were not in tandem, maybe due to lack of money, infrastructure or maybe it got overshadowed by the Hindi film industry.
In spite of having the best of the culture, drama to literature and sports, rest of the world only identifies us in the above mentioned caracters or maybe as a tendulkar or mangeshkar.
Which also meant that in spite of having raw crude talent and experience what lacked in the marathi world was its projection and packaging. No other Marathi platform did that earlier nor anyone is doing it presently, thus leaving us with a huge vacuum or void to fill in, which is where I decided to take up the mantle and package everything under one roof by creating original new and fresh content to showcase and leave it for the people to watch and decide.
The need and desire to bring Marathi Legacy to forefront by touching all corners of Maharashtra and world through content of Marathi Art, Music, Films, and Culture etc. was the thought that demanded implementation. That's where the thought manifested into action and Planet Marathi was born.
MediAvataar: There is a wide variety of Marathi content available online these days what differentiates PM?
Akshay: I would like to slightly differ with your view, I don’t think there is variety of content available, I would rather say that varied content is available but on different platforms and not under one umbrella like the way Planet Marathi perceives and envisions. The whole idea of Planet Marathi is to create shows in slots and run like a television channel from Monday to Friday, five days a week broadcasting varied content from Shows, Interviews, Music, Travel and Food, Entrepreneurial Shows and so on.
That’s how we would like to differentiate ourselves from others.
MediAvataar: Who do you think are your target audience?
Akshay: The target audience are of the digital age, which also means anyone above the age of 16 who is legally allowed to surf the internet till about the age of 75 should be considered as the TA, simply, because we have content for all age groups, however we focus to keep it youth centric in the future.
MediAvataar: How has been the response like?
Akshay: The response till date has been from average to good, some of our shows due to sheer newness and freedom, which digital media allows are doing pretty well. One can never measure the popularity with the other competing pages or portals due to the availability of bots and other means of propagation.
However the organic response to our work has been exemplary and we would be further escalating it by using high quality production methods.
MediAvataar: Take us through some of the interesting content that you create/curate every day?
Akshay: We started with signing the Master Actor/ Director Mahesh Manjrekar with an interview show known as Manja Bole. Thereafter we launched all premium shows with the protagonists as Amit Bhandari, Raju Parulekar, Ganesh Matkari.
All of the above were created keeping in mind their huge popularity in their own respective fields. All of them have fan followers in lakhs, all put together for a Startup like us it was a huge moral booster to cater the content to an already created user base. Their public image and branding also made a huge difference along with the freedom of expression welcomed by the social media.
In the near future we will see even more established faces hosting, curating and producing many shows in the space of Music, Sports, Literature, Food and Travel, of course something related to start-ups itself.
MediAvataar: Do you ever want it to launch on the more traditional medium?
Akshay: Traditional Medium such as Television has lost its sheen merely due to similar concepts running on all channels. Most of the television channels are run by business tycoons who have tried to impose their traditions and ideas to their respective media houses, thus most of the content remains untouched.
Digital Media provides a neutral platform, different from the traditional one with array of space to create, develop and execute something that we and the presenters of the shows like which is more open, uncensored, youthful and like able than the traditional television.
Moreover with the advent of products like Amazon Fire and Chrome Cast, digital has now come over television so the good old tradition has lost its exclusivity.
You will see the entire television will be taken over by digital medium in a few years from now.
People are watching their favourite news channels through products on Web channels and unsubscribing themselves from DTH so it is self explanatory what digital medium is going to do to television.
MediAvataar: What are your thoughts on the digital media in our country?
Akshay: Well ! According to me we are living in a digital era and whatever we do or happens to us right from net banking, filing of FIRs, ordering food or mapping the next vacation, everything happens under the digital sun. And with the advent of multi national digital media houses like Netflix and Amazon I feel our already well functioning media platform that is still in the nascent stage will get benefited from it. Policies such as Digital India will surely contribute more to the society.
Though we Indians are very creative, converting the same content from the mainstream media to Digital media needs to be monitored and channelized closely.
And the good news is that small enterprises to bigger ones are using digital media extensively, making ventures like us more hopeful.
MediAvataar: Is content really the king or marketing can make you get away with average content?
Akshay: Marketing can make one get away from many things to begin with, but I feel to maintain the momentum and its tempo in the longer run, one needs the real content and therefore, howsoever old school thinking it might be, but if the content is not good and just because it is presented and promoted well, you can have a few viewers attract and lured, but to sustain in the race, content is essential and always play a pivotal role thereby making it the real king.
Moreover International series such as House of Cards and Game of Thrones have proved that so well that a customer in India does not have any qualms on paying for Netflix or Amazon, the amount of 500 Rs as a subscription fees to watch the unimaginable piece of content they have curated. Also one can notice that the entire presentation is done in a way where a viewer ceases to leave that app or portal. Hence for this business to survive in a longer run, content will always be the key!
MediAvataar: How did entrepreneurship happen to you? Share some memorable experiences from your career journey so far.
Akshay: Entrepreneurship happened to me when the word entrepreneur never existed in my dictionary nor did I understand the meaning of that if i were told about it.
For me it started gradually from college days by executing a few inter college events with panache and to be termed later as contractor, because Event Management wasn’t heard during the early 2000s.
The journey thus continued with Globe trotting for work related Events, Celebrity Management thus getting exposed to varied people understanding their way of working and then implementing those experiences in one’s home country with handful of money, limited contacts to make big connections by means of experiential marketing, from becoming a peon to driver to a CEO, I did all by myself, convincing people with big ideas and delivering with hundred percent results.
I feel every businessman is and always remains an entrepreneur as long as he is open for the winds of change, adapting to newer circle of people and technology with having an open mind towards the nature of business.
The day all this ends he or she shall be termed as an Emeritus than an entrepreneur. My journey started with being an event planner to politics to a digital marketer and then the owner of the first standalone Marathi Digital Channel- PLANET MARATHI.
Entrepreneurship means constant change lead by a leader encompassed with an open mind and heart.
MediAvataar: What’s there in the pipeline for Planet Marathi?
Akshay: Planet Marathi has grown three folds in the past 11 months as an App and a Social Media House, from just being a promoter of Marathi language, culture and ideals to being successfully accredited by all walks of life as a one stop shop for general entertainment, our whole idea is to keep creating likeable content for all ages and keeping up to the world’s demand and make it internationally appealing and viable.
So in the near future, one may find, besides the original running content, PM turning into a full time production house creating regional movies, web series and offline properties such as Digital Awards and Conclaves, to setting up one and only Artist Management Wing. By end of quarter 2019 we would ideally like to open it up for public by floating a public limited participation and an IPO. Again the first, in Marathi World or Marathihood!!