Sunil Shetty has had a blockbuster stint in the Indian film industry. Not just Bollywood, the superstar has starred in over 100 films across languages and continues to inspire all those who wish to make it big in the entertainment industry. In an exclusive conversation with NewsX for its special segment NewsX A-List, Anna says that he aspires to give back to the entertainment industry with his new venture FTCTalent.com.

The actor turned entrepreneur expresses that nepotism has become a topic of discussion now but he strongly believes that this word doesn’t exist at all. Atleast in his dictionary, it doesn’t.

Shedding light on his journey as an outsider and the conception of FTCTalent.com, Sunil said, “I realised that I was very lucky in my journey. Though it was tough in the beginning, I realised I was very lucky because I got a good break, got people who backed me, skills of an action hero, physique that set me up, opportunity to learn acting as I went along even though I was a weak actor. That’s when I realised that I have got so much and now it’s time to give back. If I did 150 films, 70 were with first-time directors, actors and producers. I took the risk and I also lost. The process to work with new people was a part of my DNA. I questioned myself ‘How can I give opportunity to children across the board and give back to the industry?’. That’s how FTC talent.com was born.”

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When asked his vision for FTCTalent.com, Sunil responded, “To connect the entertainment world- For any recruiter who is looking for talent and any talent that is looking for a jobs. I’d say stay at home, complete your education and if you have the passion for the entertainment industry then give auditions from your home and find opportunities. It is a platform that is a marketplace for talent. Not just acting, but camera, art direction, hair & makeup- anybody to do with the entertainment space and anybody who is willing to give the job. Come onto the platform and take the talent from there because they are very good.”

Unlike other businesses, the pandemic proved to be a boon for FTCTalent.com. Sunil shared, “Come the pandemic, FTCTalent.com became more relevant. Come the pandemic and the announcement of Aatmanirbhar award. I told my team that we got something different, let’s pitch. I stayed away. Team pitched and after rounds and tough rounds, we came up at the top in the space of jobs. People call it a good move, not realising that I struggled, as nobody was willing to give new kids an opportunity. Not because they don’t want to but because it is a business after all.”

As FTCTalent.com goes strength to strength, a lot of brands are looking towards them to do user-generated content rather than sticking to an agency. “We are putting out challenges and asking the world to take part. The best creatives are getting paid directly by the company. You could be an agency running from a small town in a remote corner of India. So, we are bringing opportunities to your doorstep. The brands are enjoying this journey because it’s fast, it’s more interactive, it’s more real, it’s more real people. At times when kids are facing tough times, auditioning online is a huge opportunity, “ Sunil added.

Along with FTCTalent.com, Sunil Shetty has also been promoting home grown brand BodyFirst. Speaking about his love for the brand, the actor said, “BodyFirst means a lot to me. If you see me, I’m an India-centric guy. Even in my films, it may not be a brilliant performance but my heart goes to the uniform- the army, the navy, the airforce, the police. I am very passionate for my country. I was finding it difficult to look for supplements in the lockdown. Suddenly everything had stopped and there was no supply in India and abroad. A friend of mine came across BodyFirst and asked me to try their products as they are unbelievable. When I asked why are they unbelievable, he responded that they are 100% homegrown and organic. When I called them, I realised that they were unbelievable and doing unbelievable work. They asked me if I would like to get involved and I said ofcourse, give me equity, let me work on the brand, let’s push it as a proudly Indian brand and I’m with you all the way. I started mentoring them and today they are doing phenomenally well. Anything that is homegrown and natural- are all the products that are being used. In a few years, they will give a tough fight to some of the most top most brands in the world because our products are better.”

On a concluding note, Sunil expressed confidence in PM Modi’s mantra of going ‘Vocal for Local’ and working towards building an Aatmanirbhar Bharat. He said, “We all know that whether it is the performance of individuals, India’s economy on the whole or the world in general, are going through some tough times. If we don’t protect and support what we have, we are not going to grow and come out of it. We have everything here, whether it is IT, finance or products. We just need to focus and make sure that we push and buy homegrown products and focus on manufacturing homegrown products. Throwing China and Chinese products away is not the solution. The solution is to make products better than they do, finishing products better than they do, delivering products as the customers expect from us, promising less but delivering more. That should be our mantra. My plea to the entire film industry is to shoot in India. Encourage our locations. Give people more work and travel within India.”

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