“The only thing that stands between you and your dream is the will to try and the belief that it is actually possible.”
– Joel Brown
Meet Gautam Shiknis, Founder and Managing Director of Palador Pictures which is a content production, programming and publishing company in Mumbai. It deals with the acquisition and distribution of foreign language films through DVD, Television and Theatre in the Indian subcontinent.
Gautam wasn’t born with an inherited wealth and a silver spoon in his mouth. He had to struggle to achieve whatever he possesses today. Withstanding the hardships of living in a Chawl and a constant struggle for survival kindled a desire for knowledge and education in his heart. He was exposed to the somber realities of life at a very young age where he endured frequent beatings and violent disputes. He even sold mojris on the streets at the traffic signal for two years from when he was four. Perhaps his excruciating childhood was one of the driving forces behind his work Meet Moriarty, which is a collection of short stories emphasizing on deviancy and the darker side of humanity.
At the age of six, he was admitted to the Barnes School in Devlali with full scholarship. His mother kept persuading the principal to meet her children and sat outside his office every day until he granted admission. Gautam was an exceptionally bright student and still holds the record of the highest mark earner in his school. After schooling, he pursued his graduation from Symbiosis University in Pune and then opted for an MBA in NMIMS, Mumbai.
Gautam started his career with Saatchi and Saatchi and kept garnering promotions in appreciation of his outstanding performance. But Gautam decided to do something on his own and quit the company to launch Theory M, which was India’s first CRM Company addressing the lack of customer intervention in the country. He started sending mobile alerts to customers on behalf of Star TV and sending messages to customers of Shoppers Stop. He also came up with a matrimonial site named Netrimonials.com, much before Shaadi.com but was unable to get the support of investors who refused to believe that people would get married through the internet. His next venture was an e-commerce website called Dukaan.com which again faced the same problem of lack of investors.
Later he founded Palador Pictures to bring foreign language films in India. The name is derived from the word “Pala” which a fictional island in the novel The Island by Aldous Huxley. The company acquires films through various film festivals. In the Cannes Film Festival of 2007 it acquired the rights to about 300 films. Palador Pictures also had a tie-up with Zee studio where 26 of its films were shown on the channel. The films were made by renowned filmmakers like Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa, Wong Kar-Wai, Francois Truffaut, Krzysztof Kieslowski and Jim Jarmusch. Palador has a collection of award winning foreign language films made by the greatest directors in the world.
Palador was also the first to acknowledge the short film works of aspiring filmmakers. In an attempt to popularize the concept of short films in Indian media, it programmed short films of aspiring filmmakers in the DVD movies of great directors. Palador Pictures wished to create a platform for talented creators who came up with something fresh and unique through their work.
In the past, Gautam has also worked on a concept called Reeload Film Festival with Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and Hiral Kanakia. He also entered the world of mobile payments with mChek, which has become the world’s largest mobile payment service company. In an interview he said, “I wanted to open a bank account for people who couldn’t go to the bank. The idea came about when my maid said that her husband took her money. I saw the possibility of change, real change, rather than a measure of money I could make for myself.” Sikhnis is also a visiting faculty for the Mass Media Master’s program at Symbiosis University since 2004.
Gautam believes that one needs to be a master of their subject in order to do different things at the same time. He doesn’t think a person needs a break to make it big and all that is needed an unshakable belief that you can achieve whatever you want. Before giving up on our endeavors, we should think of people like Gautam Shiknis, who despite very low probability of triumph worked on their dreams and accomplished their goals.