Since first beginning his career more than a decade ago back home in India with leading media conglomerate Mindshare & Group M ESP, producer and director Jainardhan Sathyan has made impressive strides in the international entertainment community bringing powerful films such as “Harvey’s Dream” and “Dying to Live,” as well the hit music video Dhanush’s “Sachin Anthem” and the series “Oohlalala,” “Natgeo Genius,” “Kaho What’s Your Idea” and “Framed with the stars of Kaminey” to the screen.
Part of what has endowed Sathyan with the dynamic skillset necessary to become a successful producer in the competitive world of Hollywood film is his unique beginnings in the industry. Prior to moving stateside several years ago, Sathyan was busy producing content for major global brands such as Unilever, Pepsi, Lays, Kellogg's, Nokia, Philips, 7Up, LG and other industry leaders.
Using his extensive knowledge about what captures the attention of a particular brand’s audience and makes them stand out in modern times, Sathyan has done a brilliant job of developing and producing brand sponsored television shows and videos that not only interest viewers, but also redefine the brand’s personality in the eyes of the viewer.
Early on in his career Sathyan set the precedent for successful advertiser funded programming in India with the Horlicks’ game show “O Podu” that he produced for the GSK (GlaxoSmithKline) beverage, Horlicks. He then produced the series “Lufthansa Nat Geo Genius,” a 27-episode series that aired on National Geographic and tested participants knowledge about the planet and the world around them. After buying the format from the UK travel show “Geo Genius,” Sathyan helped adapt the program into a series that would fit both the Lufthansa brand and National Geographic's audience.
“The biggest challenge about this show as a producer was to meet the quality and approval standards set by the National Geographic Society” admits Sathyan.
Overall the show was a major success, and Sathyan adds that it “was a path breaking innovative use of media for Lufthansa. “
In 2012 Sathyan produced Dhanush's “Sachin Anthem” music video on behalf of the popular Indian energy drink Boost. With music composed by multi-award winning artist Anirudh Ravichander, the video, which features Bollywood superstars Dhanush and Anushka Shetty, paid tribute to Sachin Tendulkar, who is considered by many to be the greatest cricket player in history.
Sathyan used his masterful approach as the producer of the video to link Bollywood stars and the iconic cricket player to the Boost brand, creating a chart topping music video that broke viral records and pulled in one million views within two days of its initial release.
“From the concept to its execution, including signing renowned Bollywood stars Dhanush and Anushka Shetty, Sathyan played a very critical role as a producer,” says Boost Brand Manager Charubala Seshadri. “Jainardhan Sathyan’s knowledge, creativity and instinctive grasp of what makes an extraordinary filmmaker, a media professional and a branded content producer are second to none.”
In addition to being a major hit among viewers, Sathyan’s work on Dhanush’s “Sachin Anthem” helped the video earn the EMVIE Awards for Best Media Innovation in both the Social Media and Video categories at the Mumbai Advertising Club Awards in 2012 and garner impressive industry praise.
Over the course of a decade Sathyan produced over 22 television shows that aired on major networks and a plethora of films on behalf of advertisers. Having made a shining reputation for himself as a producer in the field, it would have been easy for him to continue producing advertiser funded projects but there were other stories he wanted to tell, narratives that would touch people on the human level.
One of his recent films, “Harvey’s Dream,” based on the Stephen King story of the same name, brings to life an emotionally gripping narrative about an aging couple whose story gets exceedingly more tragic as the tale progresses. Written by Paul H Magid, produced and directed by Sathyan, “Harvey’s Dream,” which stars award-winning actress Roxanne Hart from the film “Highlander” and the series “Hung” and “Medium,” and Golden Globe nominee Philip Casnoff from the series “Sinatra” and “Strong Medicine,” serves as a testament to Sathyan’s prowess as both a director and film producer. In the past year the film has screened at over a hundred festivals, earning numerous nominations and taking home the Judge’s Choice Award and the awards for Best Lead Actress and Best Overall Short from the Women's Only Entertainment Film Festival, Best Short Film from the Chandler International Film Festival, Best Performance from the Sciuridae Film Festival and many more.
Sathyan also produced the film “Dying to Live” directed by award-winning director Ilya Rozhkov (“Sabre Dance,” “We Are Enemies”). A dramatic comedy, “Dying to Live” follows Jesse, played by Aleksander Ristic (“Masterless,” “The Toy Soldiers”), a young man who is diagnosed with a terminal illness and given only a few months to live. A man who seems to have been, up until his diagnosis, a perpetual rule follower never daring to go against the grain, we watch as Jesse transforms into a hospital rebel, with a little help from his elderly hospital roommate George, played by John Colton (“The Day After Tomorrow”). The film, which debuted earlier this year, was chosen as an Official Selection of the prestigious Cannes Film Festival Court Metrage, the Manhattan Film Festival and the USA Film Festival Int'l Short Film Competition.
Regardless of whether he is producing branded content or narrative films, Sathyan has the skills to take every project from the initial concept to completion thanks to his extensive experience in the industry and his ability to get people excited about his projects.
About what makes a good producer, Sathyan explains, “He has to be a leader from a unique breed. It is imperative to know your craft very well, but a producer also needs to excel in people management skills... A problem solver, a natural motivator and a good sense of humor can come in handy driving complex projects. The other responsibilities in the changing landscape on producing is fund raising. A good producer should be well versed with the eco system of crowd funding resources, grants, donations and equity.”
All qualities he has in spades. Although Sathyan’s segway into producing and directing narrative films was rather unique, considering the success he has earned in the film industry in recent years, it’s clear that it was all a necessary part of the journey that led him to where he is today; and with many new projects in the works it’s easy to see that he is right on track.
About what he looks for in the projects he produces, Sathyan says, “Ideally a project needs to be more challenging than the last one. That’s the only way you grow, sharpen your skills and beat your own past laurels. A project should also dig deep into your experience and potential, which is mutually beneficial, but on whose reference they approached you, attractiveness of the cast and crew ends up being a bigger influencer in accepting a project in the real world.”