Mitrajit Bhattacharya was early at the Ad Club’s Emvie awards gala this month. The Joint Secretary of the Club, Managing Committee member for a decade and club member for well over two, would not have missed it. But there are some industry events he is forced to miss these days. You wouldn’t blame him if you looked at his passport.
In the last 10 months or so, the traveller, writer and Founder-President of luxury consultancy firm ‘The Horologists’ has made multiple trips to Dubai, flown to Maldives, London, Jamaica, Singapore, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Kenya and of course, Switzerland.
Why ‘of course’, you ask? Because luxury and Mitrajit Bhattacharya are inseparable, much like Switzerland and luxury watches. It is the connoisseur’s passion for watches and the finer things in life that paved the way for him to emerge as a co-producer, playing a key role in bringing several film projects to life today. It is a fascinating journey that started with – believe it or not – a magazine published in Gujarati and Marathi.
Becoming one of them…
When the former President of Chitralekha group was in Switzerland many years ago, he recalls foreign delegates not being aware of an Indian language called Gujarati. But he was convinced that there was buying power in the community back home and internationally, and of its appetite for luxury. He also realised that to be taken seriously by the experts, he had to become one – one of them.
His passion for watches saw Bhattacharya make multiple trips to Switzerland to master the game. Chitralekha became a publication that attracted ads from the likes of Rolex and Omega – something that other media houses noticed. The expert became a consultant as luxury players sought to enter India, and later other markets. The Horologists was born in 2008. The publisher who had worked in market research, brand management and ad sales earlier, had found his calling.
His love for watches, which was born during his Chitralekha days, continues even after his stint of over 18 years. He started dabbling with TV shows during the time, and also contributed to several media houses. He continues as columnist and commentator on watches and luxury, and continues consulting for luxury brands.
Connecting the dots…
The brush with luxury has meant partying with the likes of George Clooney and Leonardo Dicaprio, but Bhattacharya spent more time gazing at the watches on their wrists, drinks in their hands and the fashion labels of their choice. He consumed luxury as it consumed him.
When you’re deep into luxury and media, can Bollywood be far behind? His friends in Bollywood saw Bhattacharya as an ally who could connect the dots – between brands, talent, production houses, international shoots and more.
For films like Manoj Bajpayee and Sidharth Malhotra starrer Aiyaary (2018), Bhattacharya assisted production on the international hospitality front. In 2019, short film ‘Laddoo’ went live under the ‘Royal Stag Barrel Select Large Short Films’ umbrella. Bhattacyharya’s name appeared in the credits as ‘Media Consultant’. Several more films followed, as did designations like ‘Supervising Producer’.
“My association with the film industry started in a small way with in-film placements, logistics management etc. Being an ardent traveller, I was able to help them with the foreign locations, getting the shooting permit etc. After moving out of the Chitralekha group, I had more time and hence I started working a lot more with bigger production houses to create content in fiction and documentary segments,” says Bhattacharya.
His work now spans across formats – short films, documentaries and features – with multiple production houses. He underlines that he is not a ‘filmmaker’.
“Every day I get calls from writers or authors saying they have a story. There are production houses that are looking for good stories. But it’s not that simple. You need to know which director is capable and inclined to doing what kind of film, what each studio is looking for… My job is to work as a catalyst to bring them all together. Even when it comes to stories, it needs to be brought to a certain stage as a script that is ready to be presented. The writer or author needs to be guided correctly,” explains Bhattacharya, when asked about his role in the world of films.
His upcoming trips will take him to Dubai, Hong Kong, London and, of course, Switzerland. Ask him about international projects and Bhattacharya’s response is that it is too premature to talk about them. But yes, that means there are some in the pipeline.
Getting Bollywood to talk
During the Covid pandemic, when Bollywood was largely shut down, Bhattacharya got A-listers from the film industry talking. Interviewing Anupam Kher, Anurag Kashyap, Taapsee Pannu and many more, Bhattacharya turned host for the online show published on Outlook Magazine’s digital channels. Teachers Glasses was the presenting sponsor. There were 37 episodes, non-stop, weekly.
“We are looking at reviving it in a new avatar. The next phase will see shorter seasons, of maybe 9 to 13 episodes. But it will be in the form of physical, on-ground events, with audiences,” reveals Bhattacharya.
‘Life money can’t buy’
The love for luxury saw him pen his first book ‘Life money can’t buy’ in 2014.
“The book was launched by Shabana Azmi and in 2015. We launched the book in Mauritius. It is the chronicles of a luxury segment observer, and meeting interesting people around the world and doing interesting things,” he adds.
About the next book, Bhattacharya says, “I would like to have an updated version of ‘Life Money Can’t Buy’ because I have travelled a lot since the book got published. So new chapters and experiences have been added. Hence, I would love to publish a new edition with updated content. It might happen next year; by the time let me collect more experiences,” he surmises.