It would be perhaps easy to say "I fell apart, and survived". But then to live through the killing torments of such a process requires unbelievable courage.
Shebin Backer, the producer of hit flicks like Dulquer Salman starrer 'Charlie' (2015) and Parvathy Thiruvothu's highly decorated 'Take Off' (2017) was fearless in the pursuit of success, even after the disastrous flop of his very first, very ambitious production venture. This 41-year young Thrissur man attributes his achievements in filmdom to director Lal Jose, who made him taste both failure and success for the first time in his life.
Shebin Backer narrates his rise from a driving instructor's son to a hitmaking movie producer to Onmanorama.
Early life and education
I was born as the eldest of three sons to Aboobacker and Subaida, at Thycaud, a rural pocket near Guruvayoor. My father was a driving instructor and my mother, a homemaker. Father migrated to Karama, Dubai back in 1969. After completing graduation, I joined for MA in History, which I couldn't complete. I had to accompany my father to Dubai, to support my family. I ventured into real estate business and wholesale trading there. Later, my siblings joined me in my business.
First step blues
Film producer Sagar Sherrief is my first cousin and best friend. It was way back in 2008 that Sagar asked me to co-produce 'Mulla,' a Lal Jose movie, with him. Even though I arranged him one of my friends to serve the purpose, I had to take up the project as my friend backed out at the last minute. There was severe opposition within my family against taking up this task of co-producing 'Mulla'. I strongly believed that the movie will perform well at the box office, like the previous Lal Jose-Dileep movie 'Chanthupottu' did. All hopes were in vain as the movie starring Dileep and Meera Nandan was an utter box office flop. We lost almost all the money we invested. It took me four long years to bridge the financial loss 'Mulla' caused.
Second time lucky
Although I fell apart emotionally and financially after 'Mulla,' I had earned good contacts within the industry. Lal Jose became one of my best friends afterwards. He visited our Karama residence whenever he came to Dubai. Lal Jose kept motivating me telling that the money lost in film industry should be retained from the same industry. He even came up with a script three years later, so that I could make a meaningful return into movie production. Thus it was that I picked my next production, 'Pullippulikalum Aattinkuttiyum.'
It was rather a small movie, both in terms of budget and in terms of star cast. Starring Kunchacko Boban and Gouthami Nair, the movie released in 2013 was produced by myself and Zulfi Hasis. Against all odds, the movie ran for consecutive 100 days in the theaters earning us a huge profit. That was when my family finally started accepting movie production as a business (laughs.)
One of the big misconceptions about film production is that it could be pursued as a passion. Movie production is a full-fledged business that demands high level of focus, intelligence, smartness, foresight, and not to speak of capital. Unlike other professions, you cannot become a producer first and get rich – you have to get rich first and then become a producer. It takes high level of passion to keep your dreams apart and work hard in another realm in order to achieve it.
Finally, take off
My career as a movie producer took a new turn after I invested in 'Charlie', a trendsetting Dulquer Salman movie. Later, 'Take Off' became another milestone in my career. At present, I am awaiting the release of my latest project starring Vineeth Sreenivasan. The film, yet to be titled, will reach the movie halls by the mid of July this year. I co-produce this project along with Jomon T John and Shemeer Mohammed.
I am married to Rejina, a homemaker at present. We are blessed with three children, a son and two daughters.