Saregama’s Carvaan on a song and going places

Vinay Kamath Chennai | Updated on March 01, 2019

Vikram Mehra, MD, Saregama India, with the Carvaan

To soon unveil mobile-size device Carvaan Go, loaded with songs

Saregama’s Carvaan is on a red hot streak. With over one million sets of the radio-cum-music player with pre-loaded evergreen Hindi songs sold in 16 months since launch, the music and movies company is looking to segment and cater to different users in the market.

Soon, as Saregama’s Managing Director Vikram Mehra says, the company will unveil Carvaan Go, a device the size of a mobile phone that will be pre-loaded with songs with bluetooth streaming and earphones for music on the go.

“Every likely point of use of the product, we would like to be present,” says Mehra.

Last year, Saregama launched Carvaan Mini, a smaller set with pre-loaded songs of MS Subbulakshmi, Gurbaani (songs of Sikh gurus) and collections in a few regional languages such as Tamil and Telugu. Then there is the Carvaan Gold, with a metallic body and Harman Kardon speakers for the premium market.

Consumer interest

Looking back on the success of Carvaan, Mehra, who was recently in Chennai for the MMA annual convention, says the product came about after gaining deep insights on what consumers wanted, rather than presuming what they wanted.

“Many, especially those over 40, articulated that fast changing technology and overdose of options in every category were daunting, some even said they were too scared to use complex gadgets. People just wanted to lie back and listen to music the way they used to when they were young. Availability of curated music at the press of a button was the driver. This was a huge learning,” explains Mehra.

Saregama conducted surveys in 23 cities across different SEC groupings.

Movie dive

Last year, Saregama also ventured into film-making with Yoodlee Films. When Mehra was doing a deep dive into music research, a few questions were tagged on what people wanted from the Indian film industry.

“The feedback was the opposite of Caravan; people above 40 said they wanted to watch escapist, feel-good movies. When you are above 40 you have seen enough of reality! But the 18-35-year-olds wanted realistic, gritty cinema. Yoodlee decided we will make cinema only for this age group; hard-hitting, high entertainment quotient movies that could be consumed on devices,” elaborates Mehra.

Five of its movies have been released on Netflix. Another seven are in the pipeline and there’s a 12-film output deal after that.

“We have read over 950 scripts. Every script is read by a team of 17 script readers, people from all over, all age groups, gender, who evaluate the script on a quantifiable scale.

The maximum time period within which we say ok to a script is 45 days. The film has to be ready for commercial viewing in nine months post the go-ahead,” he says.

Mehra says that in Yoodlee-produced movies, the story is the only hero. They have no big stars and no movie has a cost or time overrun. “We put in a 30 per cent profit sharing with the writers, and they decide in consultation with us who to share the 30 per cent with. Artists also have skin in the game,” he emphasises.

Cost cut

The film-making model, too, is changing with Yoodlee. There’s a strict handle on costs. Nobody flies business class, travel is mostly by train, no vanity vans, there are no sets and it’s mostly real-life, natural settings, to give it a realistic feel. Only 10 per cent dubbing is allowed, so most of the audio is recorded on sets to give a real, on-site atmosphere.

“Unlike a studio model where somebody makes a film and we buy the rights, here we make our own films. We have a profitable model and we’re out to prove that the film business, if it’s based on sound management principles, can make money,” avers Mehra.

Published on March 01, 2019

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