Mumbai, Mar 11 (PTI) Mumbai-based content studio Applause Entertainment is betting big on the web series format as CEO Sameer Nair says the company plans to invest Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 crore on expanding its content library of shows and movies.
During its five-year long journey since its inception in 2017, Applause Entertainment made a mark with shows such as Hansal Mehta’s “Scam 1992”, Pankaj Tripathi-starrer “Criminal Justice”, “Hostages” and others on various OTT platforms.
The banner, which belongs to Indian conglomerate Aditya Birla Group, is looking forward to creating another 15 to 25 projects, including web-series and films.
“We are bullish on the series business, which we have done very well. We have a lot more coming up. We are also building our movie and animation catalogue as well and have done some co-production with other studios.
“We have over the next three to five years invested Rs 3000 to 5000 cr in content creation on investment and reinvestment basis, since inception. It is like a virtuous cycle. We earn, we reinvest and we keep going in that format,” Nair told PTI in a Zoom interview.
As a studio executive, Nair is credited for some of the successful shows on Indian television like “Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi”, “Kahani Ghar Ghar Kii”, besides megastar Amitabh Bachchan’s TV debut “Kaun Banega Crorepati”.
The two shows that did exceedingly well for Applause Entertainment, Nair said are “Scam 1992”, that also catapulted actor Pratik Gandhi to fame and their latest series “Rudra – The Edge of Darkness” fronted by Ajay Devgn.
“‘Scam’ brought a lot of attention to us. It was our 20th show to release and before that we had done ‘Criminal Justice’, ‘Hostages’, ‘City of Dreams’ and a lot of them did well. ‘Scam’ was a validation of all our efforts before and after (the work that we did). They (some shows) become highlights and milestones but it doesn’t mean the rest of the journey is not exciting,” he said.
There have been some shows like the Indian version of “The Office”, Vir Das’s Netflix series “Hasmukh”, which Nair said the company hoped would do well but they didn’t.
“Maybe we were not sharp enough in telling it. I loved the Indian version of ‘The Office’ and would like to do all 11 seasons (like the original) but we are not able to build traction. However, by and large we are happy (about our work),” he added.
In the next financial year, Nair said the banner intends to produce 10 to 15 shows and six to eight movies. Each project takes about 12 to 18 to 24 months to materialise, he added.
“The following fiscal (2023-2024) will have similar numbers and few more, the animation projects will kick in too. We are also making documentaries. So, anywhere between 15 to 25 projects,” he added.
Applause’s upcoming slate of projects include Indian adaptation of popular Israeli show “Fauda” and Prakash Jha-directed “Half Lion”, a Hindi-Telugu series based on the life story of former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao.
The company is also developing second seasons of Amit Sadh’s “Avrodh” and “Scam”, and the third season of Pankaj Tripathi-led “Criminal Justice”.
“We have new shows that are in development. Besides, we have acquired some books,” Nair added.
On the film front, the company will release Aparna Sen-directed “The Rapist” on a digital platform, while actor-director Nandita Das’s film with comedian Kapil Sharma, is currently being shot in Bhubaneswar.
Another project, Saurabh Shuklar-directed rom-com, starring Pankaj Kapur and Dimple Kapadia, is currently in post-production and will release in the next quarter on OTT.
The studio is also developing a remake of the Tamil film “Aruvi” with Fatima Sana Sheikh and a biopic feature on Major Mohit Sharma, titled “Iftikhar”.
Nair revealed that Applause recently bagged the rights to popular comic book Amar Chitra Katha and it plans to present it as an animated series. It is currently in the writing and preparation stage.
“The idea is to animate it to an international standard. It will take a longer time to get ready. We have been wanting to do this since 2004,” he said.
Nair is thrilled with the response to their latest project “Rudra – The Edge of Darkness”, which he said has been the most expensive show.
Released on March 4, the Disney+ Hotstar VIP crime-drama series is a remake of the Idris Elba-starrer successful British show “Luther”. The Hindi version comprising six episodes, featured Devgn as a cop.
Nair claimed that according to the data, the company received from media consulting firm Ormax Media, “Rudra” was viewed by nine million people during the opening weekend.
“If this were a movie, and if the average ticket price was Rs 100 or Rs 200 for nine million people, it would be Rs 120 crore weekend. It is astounding. The large part is because of Ajay Devgn.” Speaking about the show’s season two, Nair said there are plans to make the next chapter, which most likely will be made by 2023. PTI KKP RB SHD SHD
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