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10 Questions on Upperstall's 10th anniversary
The Statesman ran this interview with the founders in their Kolkata edition.

1. Where did the idea of Upperstall come from? Who are the people behind Upperstall.com?

As the internet expanded, one realized in 2000 that there was very little good content one could find on Indian cinema. Finally in exasperation, it was thought why not do it oneself? Thus on 7th July, 2000 Upperstall was born. 7th of July, 2000 marked the 104th anniversary of the first ever film screenings in India at the Watson Hotel, Mumbai on July 7, 1896. The aim was to create a serious and analytical site on Indian cinema, and not just mainstream cinema – but in particular Indian’s alternate cinema had to be given its due as well – documentaries, shorts, off-beat films, indie films, digital films. And one felt that one had to pay long overdue tributes to classic Indian cinema masterpieces as well as the luminaries of Indian cinema, many of whom are sadly forgotten now. It’s a testimony of our times that one had to explain to a youngster today that Raj Kapoor was Kareena Kapoor's grandfather!

Today Upperstall has grown to be much more than that. It now aspires to be the most comprehensive database on all types of filmmaking in Indian cinema – even more exhaustive, reliable, and responsive than IMDb and Wikipedia. The number of films and people being added in all Indian languages grows on a daily basis after thorough research and cross checking; it also acknowledges mainstream films and some of the best unbiased reviews online are found on Upperstall.com. It has also expanded to the world of blogs – and writers comprising of filmmakers, authors, critics, and intelligentsia from across the world contribute on topics that go well beyond cinema. But the core of the site – the content that put Upperstall.com on the map when it featured in Time magazine as one of the best websites in the world – the sections on classic and independent cinema in India are still very much part of the site.

The people currently behind upperstall are:

Karan Bali, a filmmaker working in Mumbai is an FTII graduate with specialization in film direction (1993) and is intensely passionate about Indian cinema. He neatly slipped into the role of content-in-charge and almost single-handedly put together the vast reservoir of information that is Upperstall.com

Karan Anshuman, a filmmaker in Mumbai went to get a computer science degree but ended up in film school in the US and returned to India. This unintentional confusion was the perfect background needed to make the idea of Upperstall into a tangible reality. He bridged the gap between film and technology and besides being a content contributor, handles all the business aspects of the website.

Saumil Gandhi was roped in to oversee at the technical side of the website. His main qualification is that he is a complete film buff and is more enthused about contributing to the site’s content rather than building the complex engine using cutting edge web technologies that power the engine behind Upperstall.com

2. Being FTII graduate/s and filmmakers, how is it that it struck you to design a website on cinema and not just make films and
    television software?

At the time, Internet had broken through in India, and amidst the hype, one thing was clear - it was a medium with tremendous exposure compared to print and TV, and allowed a more democratic and level playing ground for anyone with the skills to use it. Cost-wise, it was more sustainable to run a website because of lower investment needed to start and maintain it.

We’ve never compromised on our filmmaking activities vis-a-vis Upperstall.com and that has always been our priority. As the way it is in the industry, it isn’t a 9 to 5 job and there are periods of intense activity and periods of lull, and we’ve always been flexible and accommodating with each other about the amount of effort we put in.

3. How did you manage to break even and how long did it take you to break even?

Frankly, the site only makes enough money to cover its technical costs. All revenue currently is via online advertising. If we fall short, we put in money from our own pockets as we’ve done from the beginning. Besides the three founders, all other writers on Upperstall contribute to the site more because they believe in the vision of the site, rather than trying to make a buck. They understand that Upperstall is not trying to get ‘eyeballs’ out of actresses in skimpy clothes and get more hits and money from such exercises, but rather it is a tribute to the true Indian-cinema buff.

Had we taken that route, be assured that in these 9 years we would have been millionaires. 9 years is a long time to build a user base for ‘populist web content’ - putting together trashy gossip columns, ‘sizzling hot videos’, silly contests, etc. but we knew we would not be comfortable with this.

And this is not just idealistic talk, a reputed online entertainment portal approached us a while back with a big cheque. We said no thanks because they wanted to put those actresses with skimpy clothes on our homepage.

4. How did you fund the project in the beginning and how is it being funded right now?

Self funded from the first day to now. Primary revenue income has been online advertising, and we’re making enough to keep the site running.

5. Why INDIAN cinema and not international cinema?

The biggest problem dedicated readers of our website have is that our content weighs (in terms of volume) towards Hindi and Bengali cinema. They have a huge problem that south Indian cinema hasn’t got its due on Upperstall. We’re scrambling to fix that now - but as you can see - Indian cinema is more than enough to keep our hands full. For now.

6. How did the idea of blogs running on the same site strike you?

Honestly it was Passionforcinema.com that got us thinking. Passion is a brilliant site at times and some of its content is breakthrough in those cases. And they were using blogs to achieve this. We took the concept and furthered it a little - we would keep our writers exclusive (Passion will invite all and sundry, even people who can barely write English), from different backgrounds and allow them to write on anything they felt like - from political opinions to poetry.

It also helped us get more voices on the site and give it a more diverse personality, there was an audience for it, and needed to give the site a greater dimension that went beyond cinema. All this came together in the form of blogs.

7. What are your future projections and plans for upperstall.com?

Collaborative involvement from our niche audience. We want to encourage a Wiki-style ideology, where ownership for the site and it’s content is given to the users. Taking social networking to the next level, by giving purpose to collaboration. If this sounds like gobbledygook, please wait and watch, it’s a breakthrough unique idea

8. How do you choose contributors to your site?

No real process - if you can write well, are knowledgeable, and have something important to say, you are welcome to write for us. You certainly don’t have to be famous. We’re quite democratic that way.

9. How often is the content updated and put up?

On a daily basis. Reviews happen every week (sometimes twice a week, as we are continuously updating older films and regional films with reviews as well), we have luminaries from multiple languages, and photos, wallpapers are updated every day.

10. What else?

We love all animals.