What started casually — shooting a commercial for wines, olives and olive oil — snowballed into a full-fledged production house — David & Goliath Films. Launched in 2018, the production company focused on stories, often about the marginalised, the misunderstood to the downright fabulous. In a span of three years, they have won over 36 awards and accumulated approximately 50 laurels. These include the Cannes World Film Festival, the 11th Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival 2021, the California Music Video and Film Awards, the Istanbul Film Awards 2021, the White Unicorn International Film Festival, the London Music Video Festival and the Global Music Awards. As David & Goliath Films turns three, The Telegraph chatted with the chairman of D&G Films, producer Lal Bhatia, about the company’s casual origins and the future.
How did the idea of a film production house germinate?
I have my vineyard in Sicily, Italy. I am a producer of boutique wines, olives, and olive oil and I wanted to make a commercial for these products. The scripts being offered for the ad were not very encouraging. So I thought of the concept myself and thought ‘why not produce it myself?’. From that, things started rolling and we thought of doing a short film and that’s how Every 68 Minutes was conceptualised. We did a few videos and then we did our second film now, which went to the Cannes World Film Festival. For our first film, we won 15 awards and we realised we were doing something right and that’s how we became a film company initially focused on getting awards (laughs).
You are a producer of boutique wines, olives, and olive oil. You have been a banker, you are an author and you produce films. You are also a consultant for the Smart City project in Kenya. How do you juggle all these things?
I take it one day at a time, one project at a time.
What do you look for in a film script when you think of putting your stake in it?
As the name suggests, David & Goliath, what we want is the Davids to take on these big Goliaths and handle big issues, big causes. For example issues like dowry deaths, the Covid pandemic, women’s rights, social issues, political issues. When I read a script, the story has to hit my soul. It’s got to move me first. I believe if it can’t move me, it can’t move the audience. And I am not really looking at a Bollywood kind of a plot, I am looking for socially relevant issues that make a difference. I want to make people aware of social causes through the eyes of cinema.
Yes, your films highlight social causes. Is this a conscious production effort or is it something that you believe in personally?
It is a conscious effort even though it’s a part of me. It’s a part of everybody. When you come across a social cause, it moves you too. That’s our culture. But beyond that, I think, film production companies that focus on social awareness are not that many in number out there. That’s the idea we thought of, that let’s assist the people, understand people and educate them through this medium.
What can we expect from the D&G stable next?
Quite a few things are happening. We have been appointed by one of the world’s biggest streaming companies in the world to do a five-part mini-series of five parts each and we are focused on that now. We have been commissioned to do that and we are very excited about this project. When we got commissioned to go ahead, the organisation was moved by the fact that we were taking on the Goliaths so they suggested why not do this mini-series that talks about it. So it’s an original idea and we will bring in new people on board, new directors, new producers, new scripts, new actors. We want to give new people a chance and go against the issue of nepotism. This project will take us to competing in Bollywood now. That’s the next step. Three films for the Bollywood audience and two films for the Hollywood audience. These are brilliant times for D&G.
How has the journey been so far?
The journey has been very exciting despite the fact that Covid has affected us all in some way or the other. I think the future is bright and beautiful and I want to see our film win an Academy Award sometime soon.
I’m quite elated that D&G has completed three years and what an exhilarating experience it has been truly! None of us had visualised the magnitude with which D&G would gain the traction that it did and we feel extremely honoured by the outpouring and warmth that we’ve received. We shall continue working to uplift the downtrodden and neglected sections as that endows us with a sense of satisfaction
Imran Zaki, director, David & Goliath Films
A few D&G Films’ productions
Tera mera rishta
Every 68 Minutes
A Separate Sky