Life is short. We hear that a lot, don’t we? Chances are, you’ve either shrugged off the true symbolism behind it or you’ve made it a point to not take life for granted. People who believe the latter are the ones who have taken the leap of faith and pursued passion over societally imposed drudgery. If the answer to when someone asks you ‘What do you do?’ makes you smile, deep-down you know that you’ve taken the passion route and it’s the best decision you’ve ever made. Such is the story of the three musketeers who joined forces with the vigorous passion to change South Indians’ perception (and tastes) of pop culture.
Meet the brain, heart, and creative mind of Fully Filmy, Anand Srinivasan, Raunaq Mangottil, and Karthikeyan Manivannan. Best friends turned entrepreneurs, Raunaq and Anand were those kids who grew up believing that they could break the status quo by starting up. And let me tell you, their life now is as enthusiastic as their business venture. Raunaq says, “In every middle-class family, every once in a while, there is a mutation in the form of a child who is not satisfied doing what everyone else does. Anand and I are those children, who wanted to start something of their own since a very young age.” It just so happened that both of them shared a common interest in funky t-shirts that reflect their personality. Buying “t-shirts of their favourite bands and football teams from random shops in Chennai’s Spencer Plaza” never, for a lack of a better word, pleased them. Having said that, with every local purchase they made, they “subconsciously wondered why the t-shirt market didn’t have nothing of that sort for Indian movies”. One fine day, they asked themselves – “Why don’t we make Indian movie merchandises?” and thus, an avant-garde idea was born on June 8, 2015. Little did they know that it was about to change their lives and the lives of pop culture enthusiasts in South India. Six months of meetings, discussions, research, and making contacts led to the making of Fully Filmy, an e-commerce business venture that sells curated South Indian pop culture merchandise.
Raunaq, Anand, and Karthikeyan get a nod of approval from us for following their passion. And maybe, you too can get inspired by following footsteps laid down by them. With that thought, I realised the importance of sharing their story, probably because I feel that many people out there should escape the rat race and the five-figure income mentality and experience life in their own terms. So get ready to be inspired, I’m about to introduce the life-story and quirky psyche of the founders of Fully Filmy, Anand Srinivasan and Raunaq Mangottil.
Describe yourself (and your business partner) in 3 words
Raunaq: Creative. Lazy. Opinionated.
Anand: Dominating. Hungry. Calculative.
How did you come up with the name of your company?
It really can’t be explained. It was the first thing that came to my mind as someone madly obsessed with movies. We came up with 17 other names after that, but nothing had quite a ring to it like Fully Filmy did.
Where do you see Fully Filmy in the next 5 years?
To grow from South India’s biggest pop culture brand to India’s biggest pop culture brand.
Can both of you describe your typical day?
Raunaq: Internal meeting with the team, especially Design, Marketing and Video Production team. Ideating, planning, delegation & approvals in terms of new ideas, designs, products and new partnerships/collaborations. Writing screenplays to be produced as films for our YouTube channel. All of this is fueled by countless cups of green tea and mindless scrolling on Pinterest. Lots of replying to our fans on Social Media.
Anand: Internal meeting with the team. Business development meetings to establish new businesses/partnerships. Meetings with existing partners/vendors to make sure everything is going on track.
After work, both of us (try to) hit the gym together, meet some of our friends who we’ve grown up with and talk about the day and the future while making endless travel plans.
Any advice for your previous boss?
I think we were fortunate enough to work with the best bosses possible and we learnt a lot from them about establishing a fun office culture and looking at things from a different perspective. And after 4 years of being bosses ourselves, we understand that while it’s amazing to be a boss, it’s that much more difficult. You have to not only motivate yourself but motivate dozens of other people to share your vision and work towards your vision. Their problems become an addition to your own life’s problems.
While I don’t think we can ‘advise’ them, the only suggestion that comes to mind is that while ‘culture’ is important, a ‘process’ for the team to follow is even more important. Everyone should be on the same page as to what they’re doing and what they’re going to do next. And mind you, we are not perfect at this either; we’re a startup, and this is a work in progress. It is a journey.
If you had a choice between two superpowers, being invisible or flying, which would you choose? And why?
Raunaq: I would’ve chosen ‘flying’ cause I love travelling and I also have a recurring dream where I fly up and down an apartment complex, but invisibility will allow me to get on planes without tickets too and most importantly, since I’m an introvert who loves to observe people and their conversations, invisibility would allow me to do all this and more.
Anand: Invisibility- The world does not need a hero. It needs changes. I feel being invisible will make it easier for me to bring about those changes.
9. What was the last gift you gave someone from Fully Filmy’s merch?
We gifted our brand new Superstar-themed Decoupage Bottle to one of our friends who had visited us from Australia.
What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
Raunaq: That someday I’ll lose my creative abilities. It’s actually an ongoing fear but I think every creator (if I can say so myself) has this constant apprehension.
Anand: The fact that my decisions will impact my 30+ staff and their families.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone?
1) I steal from everything ever made.
2) My only weakness is this unique dish: dosa with milk and beef pickle
Anand: I’m an excellent travel planner
What do you think about Malayalis?
Raunaq: Well, I’m of Malayali origin and while I don’t speak Malayalam fluently because I haven’t been brought up in Kerala, I feel I’m Malayali in sensibilities. Whether in terms of politics, cinema, food, education and urban development, I feel Malayalis preserve a strong sense of ‘identity’ and I believe that’s one of the most important characteristics especially for a creator of any kind. When it comes to Malayalis, I feel we are 1) strongly opinionated and self-righteous, 2) Have a wonderful sense of aesthetics, and 3) make the best food in the world. I believe every culture can and should learn the positive aspects from other cultures, and when it comes to Malayalis, there’s a lot that others can learn from us.
Anand: Have a couple of extremely talented Malayali guys in the office. But I don’t see them separately.
Who would win a fight between Dosa and Idli? And why?
Raunaq: I’m going to try and avoid being diplomatic and say Dosa because 1) It’ll take a far lesser time to prepare for the fight and 2) Versatility is another key virtue and there are very few others who are as versatile as Dosa.
Anand: Dosa. Any day. Dosa can blend with almost anything and gives you a new flavour.
If you had a magic stick, which are the three things you would change in the world?
1) Abolish the concept of money; re-introduce barter system and make ‘good deeds’ as the main currency system
2) Make men AND women think they are equal in every way
3) Introduce ‘time travel’ but only with a ‘view’ feature…not ‘edit’
Anand: I’ll just go with one. I would basically change/remove any divisions brought by man – language, religion etc.
Tell me about a time when both of you had to slog your way through a ton of work. How did you get through it?
The entire first year was just the three of us (Anand, Karthikeyan and I) doing everything from designing the product to creating purchase orders to receiving sacks of t-shirts from the railway station to carrying it on our backs to packaging the orders to even delivering the orders to Chennai customers. In the middle of all this, we managed to write handwritten letters to each of our customers to go along with the other. But the thing is, we didn’t view it as a difficult time or something we had to ‘get through’. That was just our reality and we only saw it as something we could learn from.
What movie (and/or book) do you think everyone on the team should watch/read?
Wow, this could be endless, but we’ll give it a shot.
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Conversations with Mani Ratnam by Baradwaj Rangan
Johnny Gone Down by Karan Bajaj
I don’t think this article will ever end if I start talking about all the movies I’d like the team to watch, so I’ll go with ONE film at the top of my head right now which is ‘Searching’ by Aneesh Chaganty. It is such a simple thriller told in such a unique, creative way and I believe the takeaway from it is that while stories are essentially the same, there will ALWAYS be a new way to tell it. It’s all a matter of perspective.
Books: Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
Movies: Wolf of Wall Street by Martin Scorsese
If you could sing one song right now with your business partner, what would it be?
‘Oruvan Oruvan Mudhalali’ from Muthu
What piece of advice would you give to college graduates who want to become entrepreneurs?
Raunaq: I receive a lot of messages and emails from college kids or even professionals who want to start something of their own, but they’re scared of their parents objecting or stopping them from doing it. In these cases, the real obstruction is themselves and their self-doubt. If you’re really, really passionate about something AND you know how to convert that passion into a money-making venture(to an extent), you’ll find a way to make it happen. To make your parents trust you and for you to work hard enough for them to trust you, start working on your idea as early as possible, convert that into a plan, and set a deadline for yourself as to when you’ll start making your first rupee and present that to your parents. Parents are only concerned about your security and if you convince them that you’re taking care of that department, they have no reason to not let you follow your dreams.
Anand: Jump in with a leap of faith. But, don’t be naive. It’s not always about the best-case scenario.