Arguably, Prabhat Choudhary is one of India’s most influential men in Bollywood. The fact that not everyone knows of him adds to his charm. A man who prefers to let his work speak for himself, Choudhary is the founder of Spice PR, one of India’s leading media management companies. He is also the brains behind one of 2015 largest campaigns. The line ‘Kattappa ne Bahubali ko kyu mara?’ not only added to the hype around Baahubali, a film that garnered the highest opening weekend gross in India but also kept people hooked till the release of the second instalment, Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, two years later.
The Spice roster boasts of some of the top talents in the country, including Deepika Padukone, Prabhas, Hrithik Roshan, Allu Arjun, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Aamir Khan. Known to throw some of the best parties in B-Town, it is rare to see his name on the trending reels of Viral Bhayani and Manav Manglani’s pap watch. Is this quiet demeanour a conscious decision? “Well, my job is to push my clients out there, not myself,” he says matter-of-factly. “It’s important to remember this because it is very easy to get taken in by the glamour you are constantly surrounded by. I know that I am not a part of that; I’m on the periphery and a support system towards those who are a part of it.”
In the industry, Choudhary is known as one of the most difficult men to meet or hire. Thanks to his hefty clientele, this is understandable. So what is it that sets his work apart from the rest? “The way I see myself, I am a person of ideas. I dedicate a lot of time to generate those ideas, which come from my detailed travels within the country, lots of reading and keeping in touch with the realities around me.” “Making a huge difference in someone’s life is the biggest motivator. I approach my work and my strategy as one would approach a painting. Every day the artist gets up adds a certain colour to his work, and waits for it to come together,” Choudhary says. He believes that this artistic approach towards his work helps him keep up with the changing dynamics of the industry. “The world has been changing so much, especially in my field. Suddenly, PR is extremely relevant, and we have become central in the lives of the people who are central to this country and society,” he adds with a laugh.
“But I have to add that this sense of relevance gives me a rush sometimes. It’s like an addiction. You start thinking that you are an extremely important person (laughs), which is why I always look at this in a detached manner. I am motivated by this need for my job in the industry, but I don’t let it lull me into a false sense of self-importance.” Back in 2004, Choudhary’s first big project was the Rani Mukerji-Saif Ali Khan-starrer Hum Tum. I ask him to define the change he’s seen over the last two decades. “Back then, it was like, okay, this movie is releasing, and this is how we will promote it, and then we are done. Now we are living and breathing movies; a major part of this change has happened in the last two to three years. I don’t think the changes in 2004 and 2019 were as stark as those between 2019 and now. Everything has undergone a shift. Our business and revenue models have changed, and so has the way we look at and do things.” Despite the big upheaval, Choudhary enjoys the fact that more mediums have opened up for films. For him, it simply means that people now have the chance to find work beyond traditional Bollywood films. “I like the fact that everyone around me is busy. Any half-decent actor or writer is busy working.”
What has also changed is our access to stars. Choudhary feels that the unattainable aura around the actors has dimmed, but he doesn’t necessarily see it as a bad thing. “I am a ‘90s kid, and I look at Shah Rukh Khan, and even now, he seems like he’s up there on a pedestal. But I think that’s not the case with the younger actors. The pedestal, the throne, no longer exists. But what we have now are connections. The key is to look for qualities that will connect with people and focus on that,” he explains.
As someone who has successfully grown his company and also launched multiple media projects, I ask Choudhary what his parameters of success are. “It’s a very personal thing. Being able to appreciate every little thing around me remains a measure of success to me. Sitting here, having this conversation, in one of the top places in Mumbai… I don’t take this for granted. I appreciate these regular things. And my aim remains to be joyful from the inside.”
We round up the conversation with a quick round of coffee and a piece of advice for everyone who wants to rule celebrity management. “Your ability to deal with chaos will define your future. Your ability to process multiple things, a barrage of unconnected things, and make sense of that will define and differentiate you from the rest. I truly believe that the future of my job lies in turning each and every crisis into an opportunity and benefiting from it.”
Images: Errikos Andreou
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