Masaba is very talented and very cool,” says Madhu Mantena, a smile lighting up his face. The film producer who formalised his relationship with designer Masaba Gupta, considered among the fashion industry’s most promising young talents, on March 10, is evidently smitten. It’s been a whirlwind romance for the couple that took the big step three months into their courtship.
Mantena, one of the partners in the production house Phantom Films alongside filmmakers Anurag Kashyap, Vikas Bahl and Vikramaditya Motwane, started his career as a music publisher in Hyderabad at the age of 16. After his stint at running cousin Ram Gopal Varma’s production house Factory, in his mid-20s, he joined Reliance, before becoming an independent film producer.
Mantena’s big break was Ghajini, the Bollywood film that created the Rs 100 Crore Club. But he discovered that his passion lay in “working with and nurturing talent”.
The talent management agency, KWAN, which Mantena co-owns is one such enterprise. Phantom, too, works with the same philosophy. Since 2013, the production house has edgy titles such as Lootera, Queen and NH10 to its name, and will soon release Bombay Velvet. Phantom is also working on a deal with Reliance Entertainment. Mantena hopes that it will allow them access to the company’s post production company, Prime Focus or their international distribution network. “Then there is Dreamworks through which we hope to engage with international talent,” he says.
Currently, Phantom is looking at their partnership with Blumhouse Productions and Ivanhoe Pictures, the makers of The Paranormal Activity, to make 10 low-budget horror films.