Shashi Kapoor spent all his earnings from commercial potboilers in producing memorable films like “Junoon”, “Kalyug”, “Vijeta” " Utsav" and “36 Chowringhee Lane”. under his banner Filmvalas. All of these films were critically acclaimed but were commercially unsuccessful. The last film under this Banner was Ajooba starring Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor was a disaster.
Shashi Kapoor and his wife, , wanted to make accessible arthouse films. They decided to start their own banner, The name was inspired by “Shakespeare Wallah", the title given to Shashi Kapoor’s father-law directed by Shyam Benegal. The film is based on Ruskin Bond's fictional novella, A Flight of Pigeons, set around the Indian Rebellion of 1857. The film's soundtrack was composed by Vanraj Bhatia and cinematography by Govind Nihalani. The film was critically acclaimed and got many Awards. Won National Film Awards for Best Feature Film, Best Cinematography and Best Audiography. The film was an average in Box office. Junoon cost 34-odd lakh. It was a happy experience even though he didn’t make any money on it. Junoon eventually covered its investment. It would have even made a profit had he been a good businessman.
After Junoon came Kalyug and 36 Chowringhee Lane both released in 1981. Aparna (Sen) came to him with the story. He loved the script, and he wanted Shyam Benegal to direct it, but she said she was going to direct the film. That was a suicidal film—it was in English, made for between 18-24 lakh. (Its) cinematographer Ashok Mehta wasn’t cheap to work with. Vanraj Bhatia gave the music—whatever was state-of-the-art had to be used. He never compromised with the budget.
Kalyug was released on 24th July 1981. It was known as a modern-day version of the Indian epic Mahabharat, depicting an archetypal conflict between rival business houses. Kalyug went on to win the Filmfare Award for Best Film in 1982. The film was not a flop but recovered its cost.
Vijeta was the next film of this banner but Utsav was also planned simultaneously. had written a great script. Shashi wanted Amitabh (Bachchan) to play the part he eventually played. But Amitabh couldn’t do the role. The movie got postponed because of dates. In January 81, Shashi went to Delhi for a film festival, where he met Dilbagh Singh, chief of air staff of the Indian Air Force. The Air Force was celebrating its golden jubilee. Dilbagh Singh said I will give you whatever you want to make a film promoting the Air Force. Govind (Nihalani) too wanted to do something on the Air Force. Vijeta happened overnight. The shooting started in April. The Air Force provided the facilities, but Shashi paid for the film. The film was once again an average earner. It got Filmfare award for Best Cinematographer, Best Editing and best sound recording.
Utsav released in 1984 started on a disastrous note. A set near Udupi in Karnataka was blown off in a cyclone. The income-tax department raided Rekha on the first day of the shoot. It cost 2 crore, though it was originally supposed to be about 1.2 crores. Utsav also had an English version, so there were two takes of everything. Shashi dubbed the film in London. His wife was in a hospital at the time (Jennifer Kendal was suffering from cancer, and died in London in 1984).
Shashi Kapoor was financially wiped out by Utsav. Instead of filling his coffers, it worked him into a completely negative zone. He was in debt, he now wanted to make a commercial film to wipe out his debts. He started Ajooba with Amitabh and Rishi Kapoor this time he directed the film. The film was made in Russian also. This film was produced in association with Gorky Film Studio in Moscow. There are several Russian stars whose speech is not in sync with Hindi dialogues. Supposedly Amitabh Bachchan worked in this film gratis, as a favour to his longtime collaborator and friend Shashi Kapoor. The film had a budget of ₹80 million, which was amongst the highest at the time.
In India, the film flopped at the box office, despite managing to do a net business of ₹45 million. Later, by selling the satellite rights Shashi Kapoor able to recover all his investment and subsequently it became an earner as of today. In contrast, the film was a financial success in the Soviet Union, where it was released in two parts. It was the last successful collaboration between the Indian and Soviet film industries.
Shashi Kapoor's son Kunal Kapoor said in an interview "Ajooba wasn’t and isn’t a good film. We didn’t let him make another one after that. We were so much in debt. Sanjna (Kunal Kapoor’s sister) was still a child. Karan (his brother) and I were supporting the house. I started making commercials. We are all bad businessmen. We are brilliant at spending money".