The Show­man

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

India Today - - LEISURE - —Suhani Singh

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”.

DANESH JASSAWALA

IMPRESSARIO AGP World founder and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Ash­win Gid­wani

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