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Aditya Chopra contributes in totality to all the creative activities and other fast expanding business activities of the company. His hands-on approach in running the organization to create a professional environment is complemented by a hand-picked team of seasoned professionals, each with a very enviable track record in his own sphere; along with select consultants, including the former CEO, Sanjeev Kohli. While each of the professionals function independently, the uniqueness of their performance comes from a sense of belonging to a company that they are proud to be associated with.
A movie buff since his childhood, Aashish Singh is in charge of the crucial department of film production at YRF. Born in a family that produced films, Aashish grew up breathing the language of cinema at home. A meritorious student who also won Best Student of the Year during college, he chose to pursue film production with his father to live his passion. Given the changing landscape of the business of cinema, Aashish joined YRF in 2005 as Executive Producer of DHOOM:2 and soon followed on that as Executive Producer of CHAK DE INDIA. He became Head of Production at YRF and has been a part of all the films since then.
His responsibilities include overall production of films, with control and management of budgets, coordination of artistes and crew and able handling of minute details related to production. He is instrumental in building partnerships with international locations for films shoots. He also handles co-productions, acquisitions, production services/line production of international projects in India and liaises on legal aspects related to film production. So far, Aashish holds the record for having helmed the maximum number of films in Hindi as an Executive Producer.
Akshaye Widhani oversees and manages business affairs for all verticals at YRF. A banker who saw real value and potential for maximum revenue from quality entertainment, Akshaye joined YRF as a studio manager in charge of setting up operations of YRF Studios in 2005, 11 years ago. During his tenure, he has been instrumental for optimization of value from diversified verticals within the company.
Ever since, he has built cross-functional media experience in corporate finance, strategy and operations, overseeing matters related to finance, legal and strategy in business verticals. In a recent endeavour at the studios, Akshaye played a key role in launching the company’s own in-house Visual Effects facility – yFX. Presently, Akshaye is Group Business Head and is responsible for management and handling of corporate and business development activities inclusive of finance, TV licensing, global business extensions, such as YRF Entertainment, strategic alliances, joint ventures related to the company’s content properties and studio facilities.
A graduate from Kelly School of Business, Indiana University with a degree in Finance and Entrepreneurship; Akshaye Widhani continues to focus on business development and asset maximization for YRF’s entertainment properties.
Mr. Sahdev Ghei is a veteran who has witnessed the gradual evolution of the Indian film industry for over two decades. He serves as Vice President - Distribution at YRF. In helming distribution, he is instrumental to key strategic decisions in the core business aspect of films.
For 25 years, he has handled domestic theatrical distribution business for YRF. During his tenure, he has helped guide the studio into the era of multiplexes and mass-scale release patterns, and along with the studio’s excellence in creative, production and marketing, have made YRF a consistent market leader. He joined the company in 1992 and has held a series of executive positions at YRF since then. Prior to that, he has honed and developed his variegated experience across established film companies, including the legacy banner of Navketan Films. He works closely with the studio’s network of domestic offices and affiliates on scheduling of film releases across global markets. He oversees all matters relating to domestic movie distribution and release functions, competitive positioning, tracking of box-office grosses and movie rentals, exhibitor trade relations, tracking content performances and market data and trends, as well as domestic on-ground anti-piracy efforts for YRF.
Avtar Panesar is a veteran with rare experience of helming international film and home video distribution for Indian cinema overseas. As Vice President - International Operations for YRF, he has developed sustainable relationships in the complex space of international film distribution and contributed towards building the YRF brand. Since 1997, Avtar has gradually seeded and developed inroads in film, home video and music markets in challenging international markets like UK and UAE as well as others. He set up distribution networks for home video and music products for all the diaspora markets across the globe. Using his previous professional learnings, he spearheaded design and print for DVD packaging out from London. In charge of overseeing international operations at all levels, he has executed fresh marketing and PR ideas and campaigns to popularize films and content distributed by YRF. His holistic approach to transparent, professional and lucrative international film distribution has helped bring Bollywood films to mainstream multiplexes in key diaspora markets abroad.
Prior to joining YRF, Avtar began his career with HMV/EMI Records London, following his passion for entertainment and music. Working in various capacities, he grew to different key positions in HMV/EMI Records, London. From sales to talent spotting and local artiste management, Avtar has been instrumental to presenting Asian origin talent, in the music and entertainment space, at a global level. His wholesome understanding of Indian entertainment in foreign markets is both insightful and valuable to YRF ventures.
Ashish Patil heads the unique talent pool at YRF as Vice President - Talent and Brand Partnerships. He also wears a creative hat as the Business and Creative Head at Y- Films, an innovative content start up within YRF.
As head of Y- Films, Ashish manages a division that makes motion pictures & original digital content of the youth, by the youth, for the youth. He wrote and produced three feature films under the banner including MERE DAD KI MARUTI. The digital content from Y Films has made considerable impact with the 2016 Cannes Grand Prix Glass Lion + Webby + EMVIES winner – India's first transgender band – 6-PACK BAND. It has also delivered cutting edge web series like BANG BAAJA BAARAAT, MAN'S WORLD with Richard Curtis & the United Nations; LADIES ROOM & LOVE SHOTS. Ashish has directed a first of its kind fiction based web series on sex education that launched in 15 languages titled SEX CHAT WITH PAPPU & PAPA. The talent management division handles endorsements, events, films, PR & digital for the most promising and popular talent in Hindi cinema including Rani Mukerji, Anushka Sharma, Ranveer Singh, Parineeti Chopra, Saqib Saleem, Saba Azad, Arjun Kapoor, Vaani Kapoor, Ayushmann Khurrana, Tahir Raj Bhasin, Bhumi Pednekar among others. This division adopts a unique 360 approach to creating talent led content solutions like RANVEER CHING RETURNS with Rohit Shetty. Brand partnerships bring in all in/out-film placements; associations across the YRF slate covering large franchises like DHOOM besides FAN, SULTAN, BEFIKRE and more.
Before joining YRF, Ashish ran India’s #1 Youth Entertainment Destination - MTV where he successfully rebranded MTV beyond music and television, delivering record high viewership, market share and building franchises like Roadies, Splitsvilla, Stunt Mania and extended their valuation through Licensing & Merchandising. Ashish has experience in advertising with agencies like Contract Advertising and SSC&B Lintas.
A veteran with an extensive experience of 35 years in the business of Indian entertainment, Vijay Kumar helms Home Entertainment and Licensing at YRF. Since 2004, he has set up the YRF Music and Home Entertainment labels, optimising value from the company’s quality film content. The licensing division is entrusted with the task of protecting its vast repertoire under the copyright act and monetizing content through licensing to all possible mediums such as television, radio, consumer products, films, print media etc. and through public performance licenses, which covers a wide range of shops and establishments, hotels, restaurants, ground events etc. It also liaises with outside parties on the use of YRF intellectual property (IP).
Prior to his stint at YRF, Vijay has worked on advertising before moving on to EMI/HMV (known as SaReGaMa). Here he was responsible for formulating strategies for business growth in film and India music, with region specific management and coordination of on ground artiste based performances. He has also worked with Universal Music in A&R (Films) in the marketing space. His holistic experience and network within key players of the Indian music and film music industries has brought value to YRF properties over the years.
A digital evangelist with over 20 years of experience, Anand Gurnani manages the Digital & New Media business at YRF. He spearheads all new digital business initiatives & oversees monetization aspects through internet, mobile and other emerging digital revenue streams worldwide through strategic alliances. Integral to YRF’s digital vision for 15 years (since 2001), he created a robust digital presence for the brand. His responsibilities include digital licensing and monetization, digital community building, audience engagement development, identifying emerging digital trends and YRF online brand management; through a 360 degree approach to disseminate, amplify & monetize its rich catalogue, upcoming films & original digital content.
Amongst the first players in Indian entertainment and media to deploy movies and music in the digital ecosystem and simultaneously build a solid digital presence for the brand, his sustained efforts have brought extensive visibility and brand recall to YRF. His love for music and cinema has been inherent in his dedication to value maximization of YRF digital.
Anand is a graduate in Electronics Engineering and holds a Diploma in Computer Technology from Mumbai University. He developed an understanding of dynamic internet technology right since web’s advent in India in 1996, when he joined an internet start-up (DBS Internet Services Pvt. Ltd.). DBSi was a premier web solutions company that worked with over 100 corporate brands and helped device unique web strategies for maximization of value. Prior to YRF, he worked with E-City Entertainment (a part of the Zee Group) as Head of Internet Operations for a year. During this stint, he formulated the entire web presence strategy for their Family Entertainment Centres vertical, which included community building and enabling online ticketing functionality.
Manan Mehta spearheads YRF group’s marketing efforts across products (corporate brand, business verticals, films and web content). The youngest member of the key leadership team of YRF, he handles additional mantle of developing and strengthening merchandising. During his tenure at YRF, he has helmed marketing innovation with films like FAN, SULTAN and BEFIKRE. A crucial division in ensuring visibility and outreach for films and content in the digital era, Manan has displayed innovative thinking, resource management and creative ideation in film distribution for YRF.
Manan has extensive experience in building and marketing over 100 Indian brands across various positions. Having worked at the Publicis Groupe, he was mandated to establish Razorfish in India. A global innovative digital transformation agency, Manan managed partnerships with key business leaders and delivered transformation using cutting edge technology, creatives and media. Before Razorfish, Manan was the Founding Member and Managing Partner of the highly esteemed creative agency, Taproot India. Manan takes big pride in building the most successful start-up venture in the advertising industry in shortest time. Taproot India was successfully sold to Dentsu Group - a Japanese media conglomerate in 2012. Prior to Taproot India, he has also led multiple Indian and global brands as Business Director and Brand Partner at Leo Burnett India.