The Indian entertainment industry has gone through a colossal change in terms of content and distribution in the last couple of decades. With the emergence of new and alternate media, which spread like an epidemic among the youth of the country, many new outlets and enterprises have sprung up now to provide changing audiences with a variety of fresh content on a daily basis. This week, in our special Offbeat, Newsd speaks to Vijay Nair, the founder of Only Much Louder, popularly known as OML.
Started as an artist management firm for Indian bands in the country, OML is now one of the biggest entertainment firms in India. From producing massively successful live music properties such as NH7 The Weekender to eclectic and award-winning music shows such as the Dewarists for television and also pushing the envelope in the comedy scene, OML has quickly moved from handling leading Indian bands to producing live, televised and digital content that spreads across a variety of genres. Its founder, Vijay Nair, is a college drop-out who started OML at age 18.
Here are some excerpts from an exclusive Newsd interview with the entrepreneurial wonder:
1. You’ve stated in interviews that you started managing bands during college days. Was it a hobby or a step taken as a career prospect?
No, not really. I never viewed it as a career option nor was it a hobby. But it is something which I kind of stumbled upon and it really took off from there.
2. You dropped out of college without getting your degree, how did your family take it?
Well, I kind of broke it to them in little parts than telling them directly that I am dropping out. So in the first year, I told them that once my career takes off, I will get back to studies. Then that became two years. So I think, they slowly listened to it and finally figured out that I am probably never going to go back. I think that worked out for me than just telling them that I am quitting studies.
3. How did OML come about? Whose brainchild was it?
The name actually came in after the first few months. Vishal Dadlani and I wanted to kind of start a record company, which is when we came up with the name Only Much Louder. But then I started using it even more. So this came in the first few months itself then I had a few bands and some 40 people to work with. Though I started the venture with just two or three people; eventually started using that name to start pushing work.
4. What are the obstacles faced in putting together a music festival in India?
It depends on where you are doing it and on what stage are you doing it. There were no obstacles as such but there are challenges. Challenges in terms of—you need to get a guest, you need enough sponsors to get the cash flow right. Other than this, there are challenges which are beyond your control! Such as dealing with police and the authority, this turns into a fairly big challenge from time to time.
5.What can we expect from NH7 Weekender this year?
We have been following a new format called NH7 express. It will be a one-day format which will be taken to towns that we have never thought of, or to towns where the culture of concerts is not so popular. So, NH7 will expand to a couple of more places in India. The two main additions of the venues, as it turns out to be in the last couple of years— Shillong and Pune have been quite a success. Now we are slowly kind of expanding, from more than just music. We have to do a lot more in terms of art and push that up. So our plan currently is to make the experience wholesome for the spectators.
6. You’ve also been playing a role in pushing the envelope in the comedy scene by managing clients like AIB, Kanan Gill, Zakir Khan etc. What is the biggest challenge? Legal hassles like after the AIB roast?
There is always that kind of challenge when we are talking about roasts. But the whole idea behind roasts or such humour is to be able to laugh at yourself. So there are challenges that come by. However, legally there hasn’t been that many problems, a little with the roast maybe. But more or less, the comedians also have a sense of self-censorship. People now know what kind of stuff you can talk about.
7. What are your future plans?
I think the content part of our business becoming more and more important. We are trying to do fiction shows, concept shows. We are expanding our talent base; especially in the case of comedy.