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Aditya Birla Group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla. Applause Entertainment has been dormant for almost a decade after producing highly acclaimed Bollywood movies such as ‘Black’ and Dev’. Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint
Aditya Birla Group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla. Applause Entertainment has been dormant for almost a decade after producing highly acclaimed Bollywood movies such as ‘Black’ and Dev’. Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint

Kumar Mangalam Birla revives Applause Entertainment for content play

Aditya Birla Group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla has hired former Balaji Telefilms CEO Sameer Nair to revive Applause Entertainment

Mumbai: Aditya Birla Group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla has hired Sameer Nair—who stepped down as CEO of Balaji Telefilms Ltd last month—to revive Applause Entertainment Pvt. Ltd, his privately held production company that has been dormant for almost a decade after producing highly acclaimed Bollywood movies such as Black and Dev.

“We plan to reignite Applause Entertainment to invest in the creation and distribution of content for new audiences and new markets," Birla said. He plans to invest Rs200-300 crore (for starters) on creating this content for distribution across platforms.

Nair believes the Indian audience is completely bored of daily soaps but that there’s a massive new untapped urban audience that is currently hooked to House of Cards and Game of Thrones. There’s no content currently available in “the world between Naagin and Narcos", Nair said, referring to two popular series, one on Indian TV (Colors) and the other on Netflix.

“Daily soaps started as an idea in India in the year 2000, but went on to become so wildly successful that they stunted every other form of story-telling. This resulted in us missing an evolutionary step, that of premium subscription content," Nair explained. Applause will work with content producers in the established studio structure.

“There’s a big audience in India today that is fatigued of TV, but is not necessarily watching Netflix. So, the opportunity for us is to create premium content drama series, in multiple languages and genres, in the shorter format with seasons to feed this new audience," Nair said. 

Applause will roll out the first of such shows in the next six months and 20-30 of them over the next 18 months. Nair is convinced there is a market for them and cites the huge opportunity presented by the growing number of smartphones and mobile wireless broadband connections in the country. “Content has to now play catch-up with technology," he said.

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