Chennai: Budget-film director turns grocer amid challenging times

WION Chennai Jul 15, 2020, 08.21 PM(IST) Written By: Sidharth MP

Anand who has directed a handful of budget films over a decade, has one film ready for release and another in the final stages of shooting. Photograph:( WION )

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Despite having nil experience in setting up or running a store, Anand took the decision to invest a small sum and get started with his new project.

The film industry is among the worst hit after the Covid-19 pandemic struck India, with many associated with the field struggling without an alternative means of earning a living. But there are also a few who look for opportunity in adversity. It was the mad-rush amongst the public to hoard on groceries and other essentials during different phases on India’s lockdown, that sparked an idea in 40-year old Anand’s mind. “Why not temporarily set-up a grocery shop? With more people staying indoors, isn’t the demand going to spike ?” were some of the film director’s thoughts.

Anand who has directed a handful of budget films over a decade, has one film ready for release and another in the final stages of shooting, but then the lockdown was imposed. This meant staying idle at home and not contributing to his family. “For a week it felt nice to be at home, but after a point I couldn’t remain idle. I was witnessing the high demand for essentials and the long queues at shops. That’s what led to the initial spark” Anand told WION as he attended to customers at his store. 

Despite having nil experience in setting up or running a store, Anand took the decision to invest a small sum and get started with his new project. Observing the crowded shops and the goods they sold provided him considerable insights. Thats when he began to scout for a vacant commercial space near his residence. 

The search led him to a place that was 2kms away from his residence. The vacant space happened to be owned by Anand’s childhood friend. As he was about to get started, the reactions from his known circles were expressing apprehension and disapproval. “While the friend who rented me the place was in support, most of my colleagues from the cinema industry weren’t happy with my decision. But I wanted to go ahead as it would fetch some income and I can help people” Anand recalls about the time he opened the store in mid-June. 

Now, nearly a month after having started the store, Anand says that the going has been good, even quite busy. “I put up a board outside my shop about the price of certain essentials, I also offer a small discount of certain types of pulses and rice varieties. This keeps the crowd coming and there's also word-of-mouth publicity via friends and regular customers. Today there are 5 people working in the store with me” Anand says gladly.

Given how the Covid-19 pandemic has thrown life out of gear for many like him, Anand hopes that people seriously consider an alternative means of earning a living. “At least for 6 months to a year, we must think of doing something else, normalcy seems quite far. In my case I had some savings to fall back on, but surely each one can explore a way out” he says. 

Recalling the five low-budget films he’s done so far and the ones pending for release, Anand feels that OTT platforms and online releases are the way ahead. “For small filmmakers like us, getting an OTT release means a lot. Even the platforms don’t have to spend much to buy our films when compared to that of big names” he says, hoping that his upcoming film ‘Naanum Pei Dhaan’ and the one in the pipeline ‘Thunindhu Sei' find takers.