Home / Industry / Media /  Applause eyes feature films after OTT success
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NEW DELHI : Aditya Birla group company Applause Entertainment is set to produce feature films after 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 investments by five to 10 times over the next decade to produce 6-8 films and 12-15 web shows every year, Nair said in an interview.

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

“When we started five years ago, the OTT ecosystem was at a nascent stage with around five million paying subscribers in India.Today, we’re looking at a subscriber base of 40 million including (through) partnerships with telcos. This massive audience base will dictate the kinds and genres of content we create," Nair added.

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

Unlike television, streaming platforms allow production houses to experiment and take risks, he added. “We’re bullish about growing our topline by five to 10 times over the next 5-10 years and it will obviously need higher investment, more shows and collaborations with partners," Nair said, without divulging details on its investment plans.

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

Upcoming web series from its stable include a biopic on the life of Mahatma Gandhi, to be headlined by Pratik Gandhi based on historian Ramachandra Guha’s books, the Indian adaptation of Israeli hit series Fauda, titled Tanaav and the returning seasons of Scam and Criminal Justice. Nair said it is also looking at documentaries.

Media analysts said the likes of Applause manage to deliver high-quality content that few others can replicate, and the cost of tent-pole movies may go up to 80-90 crore. “Very few production companies in India can churn out originals with the kind of international standards that foreign platforms want, with movie-level production values," said an analyst seeking anonymity.

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

While TV has become a one-size-fits-all kind of medium, “streaming allows us to target different audiences even within the wider base. All platforms have their own algorithms that allow users to personalize their viewing. There is a lot of work happening in terms of segmentation and pricing to cater to these different cohorts," Nair said.

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