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Akshat Gupt’s Gully Life

In conversation with Akshat Gupt, the director of 'Gully Life: The Story Of Divine’

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Akshat Gupt has directed films for brands like Dolby, Estee Lauder, Red Bull, YouTube, Smashbox, Nike, Volkswagen and L'Oreal. Doppelgangers, the documentary made by him won the Webby Award in 2018. Gully Life: The Story of Divine is the latest documentary directed by Akshat, Businessworld caught up with him for a chat. 

How did Supari Studios come into being?
In 2011, right about the time I came back from film school and had started working in advertising, I noticed that YouTube and the internet were taking off. Brands wanted to have a conversation with their audiences online. Basically, consumption patterns were changing. I sensed a gap in the market - traditional production houses were making television commercials but no one was making online videos. Video content was not really being used as a marketing tool. Seizing the opportunity, my brother and I started Supari Studios – a fully integrated content studio. At Supari Studios we help brands create differentiated video content properties to engage audiences online. 

  • Globally, IP video traffic will be 82 percent of all IP traffic (both business and consumer) by 2022. 

Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Trends, 2017–2022 White Paper

How did Gully Life happen? 
Red Bull approached us in early 2018 to cover an upcoming artist they were looking at collaborating with. We (Supari Studios & Red Bull) had just finished working on a three-part documentary series called Doppelgangers that won a Webby at the 22nd Annual Webby Awards - one of the highest awards for the internet.  The artist they wanted us to cover happened to be a young rapper named Divine, who was on the rise and apparently even had a movie about his life in the pipeline. 

The Divine story agreed upon, I decided that deep diving into the story of his life would be the right thing to do. As I was discovering his story, I figured that making a short documentary would not do justice to him, and that's when we decided to be around him for a year and get to know the real Divine. The film took fifteen months to shoot and edit. It was an awesome experience to be part of his life for that long, and to be able to tell his story with such authenticity. 

‘Gully Life: The Story of Divine’, premiered on the Discovery Network, on July 1. It will be released on Red Bull TV and Divine's YouTube channel mid July.

Trailer Views For Gully Life -  more than one million across all social platforms

What was the reach for Doppelgangers?

On social platforms, we had a reach of over 6.1million touch points, with over 1.68mn views across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The episodes generated over 850,000 social engagements. The series also premiered on Red Bull TV where it was the #1 viewed series in India for six months.

Why the Red Bull pick Divine? 
The brand picked divine because it believes in supporting artists that are doing good work. Red Bull invests in stories that are in the space of sports, music and culture. Divine is someone who's been breaking barriers and this resonated with the brand. 

Were there any challenges you faced during filming?
The challenges were almost positive - He is a person who never backs down from a challenge. Through his journey as an artist, he kept evolving and kept achieving newer and better things, that just kept evolving my narrative and edit. 

What do you like about Divine (Vivian Fernandes), the person and his music? 
I learnt that one should not take no for an answer. Had he accepted ‘no’ as an answer, he would have been a different person. He broke many barriers. Being ambitious as well as being grounded are both very important attributes for a successful person . His main focus has always been his family and friends. 

His music is relatable, it's real. It is what everyone is going through and that's why people relate to it.
Video content continues to be an important digital marketing tool – how have things changed over the last few years? 

The entire landscape has changed, at the time we started people couldn’t believe videos could be an effective marketing tool, and now everyone with a smart phone is a content generator. Today, our competition ranges from large production houses to freelancers making videos with their phones. Distribution is definitely fragmented. 

  • Global IP video traffic will grow four-fold from 2017 to 2022, a CAGR of 29 per cent. 
  • Internet video traffic will grow fourfold from 2017 to 2022, a CAGR of 33 per cent.
  • Live Internet video will account for 17 per cent of Internet video traffic by 2022. Live video will grow 15-fold from 2017 to 2022. 

Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Trends, 2017–2022 White Paper

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