Ashwin Gidwani’s banner, AGP World, has showcased productions across the world. Here, he talks about his selection process, his business model and what’s coming up next
Ashvin Gidwani likes his theatre big. His production house/ event management company, AGP World, mounts plays on a large scale, as well as concerts and comedy shows. He runs it as a business, describing some productions as “commercial experiments” and sprinkling his speech with boardroom jargon. It doesn’t make him the most popular figure on the theatre scene but Gidwani couldn’t care less. “I don’t need recognition from the fraternity here,” he says. “I don’t hang with any of them. My fraternity is in the global space.”
Having brought British percussion troupe STOMP to India last year, the Mumbai-based producer recently brought British a cappella group The Magnets to Delhi and Mumbai as well.
Gidwani’s selection process is methodical. A team of five consultants, including a doctor, a lawyer and an artist, screens scripts before they are passed on to him. “I will only read it if it gets at least three out of five votes,” says Gidwani. On the odd occasion, he goes with gut feeling—such as when he selected Saurabh Shukla’s latest play, Barff. As founder of one of the biggest banners in theatre, Gidwani is sometimes seen as a man with moolah. But he’s not a soft touch. “I don’t feel comfortable when people say you have money so you can pay us,” he says. “I want you to say you can give flight to our dreams. You bring vision, scale and script and I will bring production value and marketing, and allow you to fly.”
Gidwani aims to expand AGP World’s presence as he sticks to the model of roping in stars to ensure he breaks even. He has 24 productions in the pipeline, to be unveiled in three years, including a New York production of Blame it on Yashraj. He is reviving Double Deal, a Hindustani thriller, with Manjari Fadnis and Mahesh Manjrekar. And next year his company will give grants to writers and directors as well as set up a Veteran Artist Fund. The ambitious streak won’t wane, Gidwani says, as he wants to do “what’s not been done in theatre before”.
IMPRESSARIO AGP World founder and managing director Ashwin Gidwani