Applause watching feature films after OTT success

NEW DELHI : Aditya Birla Group company Applause Entertainment set to produce feature films following the success of its shows Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story, Criminal Justice and Undekhi on over-the-top (OTT) platforms such as Disney+ Hotstar and SonyLIV chief executive officer Sameer Nair said.

The company is looking to increase its investment by five to ten times over the next decade to produce 6 to 8 movies and 12 to 15 web shows each year, Nair said in an interview.

The content studio, which completed five years of operations in August, will branch out into regional language content and has purchased the rights to Amar Chitra Katha’s comics and graphic novels to produce animated web series.

“When we started five years ago, the OTT ecosystem was in its infancy with around five million paid subscribers in India. Today, we envision a subscriber base of 40 million, including (via) partnerships with telecom operators. This massive audience base will dictate the types and genres of content we create,” Nair added.

He announced three feature films including Jab Khuli Kitaab starring Pankaj Kapur and Dimple Kapadia, an untitled film directed by Nandita Das starring Kapil Sharma in the lead, and another project starring Vidya Balan, Pratik Gandhi, Sendhil Ramamurthy and Ileana D. ‘cross.

Unlike television, streaming platforms allow production houses to experiment and take risks, he added. “We are optimistic about growing our revenue five to tenfold over the next 5 to 10 years and that will obviously require greater investment, more shows and collaborations with partners,” Nair said. , without disclosing details of its investment plans.

The feature films will be released first in theaters and then on streaming platforms, he said. The Rapist, directed by Aparna Sen and produced by Applause, screened at the Busan International Film Festival, Indian Film Festival London, Kolkata International Film Festival and Kerala International Film Festival.

Upcoming web series from his stable include a biopic on the life of Mahatma Gandhi, to be titled by Pratik Gandhi based on the books by historian Ramachandra Guha, the Indian adaptation of the hit Israeli series Fauda, ​​titled Tanaav and the returning seasons of Scam and Criminal Justice. Nair said he also watches documentaries.

Media analysts have said the likes of Applause manage to deliver high-quality content that few others can replicate, and the cost of tentpole movies can soar to 80-90 crores. “Very few production companies in India can produce originals with the kind of international standards that foreign platforms want, with film-level production values,” an analyst said on condition of anonymity.

However, inflation has been a major challenge as the cost of everything from equipment to talent has increased, especially with multiple shows on the floor, Nair said.

While television has become a unique type of media, “streaming allows us to target different audiences, even within a broader base. All platforms have their own algorithms that allow users to customize their viewing. There is a lot of work going on in terms of segmentation and pricing to cater to these different cohorts,” Nair said.

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