Our key differentiator is our ‘risk-reward’ philosophy that sees us invest upfront in content creation, to be licensed to platform partners later: Sameer Nair, Applause Entertainment
Sameer Nair, CEO, Applause EntertainmentApplause Entertainment
Applause Entertainment recently partnered with Amar Chitra Katha marking its foray into animation
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Our key differentiator is our ‘risk-reward’ philosophy that sees us invest upfront in content creation, to be licensed to platform partners later: Sameer Nair, Applause Entertainment

Applause Entertainment recently partnered with Amar Chitra Katha marking its foray into animation
  • It is no secret that the Indian OTT space is booming and audiences are spoilt for choice in terms of the content available to them.
  • Applause Entertainment, the content studio responsible for bringing series like Criminal Justice and Scam 1992 has been focusing on creating impactful content that stands out in the clutter.
  • We speak to Sameer Nair, CEO, Applause Entertainment on all that is happening at the content studio and what more they have in store for us.
The last few years have given content studios in India a brilliant opportunity to put their best foot forward. Indians are hungry for good content and OTT platforms have been constantly trying to up their games because it is only strong content that will help them break the clutter and make consumers choose one platform over the other.

The 4-year-old Applause Entertainment, a content studio that is part of the Aditya Birla Group, has been a frontrunner for coming up with content that has been noticed and appreciated. Be it shows like Criminal Justice or Scam 1992, Applause has come up with content that has stood out.

While so far, the studio’s focus has been original series, popular book and international format adaptations like Criminal Justice, Hostages, it has recently partnered with Amar Chitra Katha, a publisher that has been our primary gateway to Indian mythological stories. And with this partnership, Applause Entertainment will mark its foray into animation. Meanwhile, the company is also looking at further expanding its offering with documentaries and small to mid budget films.

Industry veteran Sameer Nair, who was the man responsible for giving us Kaun Banega Crorepati , is at the helm of affairs at Applause Entertainment, and he has his plate full at the moment. He is currently focusing on bringing bigger, more impactful content to your screens. In a recent chat, he told us more about the Amar Chitra Katha partnership, his expectations from the Indian content space and his plans for Applause Entertainment.

Excerpts:

Q) Your partnership with Amar Chitra Katha marks your foray into animation. What will this partnership entail?
ACK is a treasured Indian brand that boasts 400+ stories and comics. Generations of Indians have grown up reading these stories. Now with this partnership, we want to both bring alive these characters in high quality animated episodes for the local audience, as well as take our proud Indian culture to global audiences. We plan to work with quality animation partners and storytellers to help us reimagine these iconic tales for the 21 st century.

Q) Applause has had a lot of success in terms of the content you have been produced in the past few years. Why was this a good time to explore animation?
Applause is a Content and IP Creation Studio. We are storytellers, and we want to tell stories for every kind of audience. Different stories work best in different formats so as a studio, we have ensured that we produce content in the format that best suits the idea, whether drama, documentary, unscripted, film, animation or gaming.

Q) Applause is 4 years old but 1.5 years out of that, we have lived/living through a pandemic. What kind of impact did it have on your business?
The pandemic affected us like it did everyone else. Productions were stalled, theatres were shut, work from home became the norm. But consumption of content online exploded exponentially. Audiences adopted the OTT services and began to consume content across languages and borders. They accepted new forms of storytelling and created a host of new stars. The script became the hero supported by an ensemble of fine actors and directors. We had a pretty fortunate 2020, and 2021 so far, having released over 15 drama series across platforms, including the award winning Scam 1992 and Criminal Justice S2, to name a few.

Q) What have some of your key learnings from these last 1.5 years been?
Our key learning has been in a way a validation of our original premise; that we should obsessively focus on quality storytelling and carefully listen to what our consumers are saying, feeling, doing. That way we will be able to anticipate and create for the gigantic streaming market that is exploding in India and all over the world.

Q) India's OTT industry is booming. People are hungry for bigger and better content. How are you as a production house equipped to meet that demand, and what makes Applause different from other content production houses?
We continue to aggressively invest in incubation and development from an early stage. The audience appetite for quality content will only increase; that’s the key word – quality – and variety and diversity. Our learnings from the past 4 years have also helped us improve on our creative and commercial algorithms, and now allows us to place bigger bets with talent and scale. Our key differentiator from other studios remains our ‘risk-reward’ philosophy that sees us invest upfront in content creation, to be licensed to platform partners later.

Q) Having your content on global OTT platforms also means the world is opening up for the content. From a quality perspective, where does India stand in the global scheme of things? Can we have content that goes beyond geographies and finds relevance across the world, something on the lines of Money Heist/Game of Thrones?
I think the quality of Indian Content is constantly improving. That being said, as the market expands, streaming content will be distinctively divided into a massy AVOD offering and more premium SVOD fare. All content is created for a primary audience; sometimes, some of that content transcends languages and geographies to resonate with a global audience. Obviously, over the years, Hollywood has built this powerful franchise of content that is designed for worldwide audiences, but I think content from other countries will also gradually gain universal acceptance. For example, there was a phase when Chinese and Hong Kong Kungfu movies had become quite the rage. Now Korean drama series and KPop have broken out. It will be no different for India.

Q) Going forward, what will your key areas of focus be? Where will your next phase of growth come from?
Our next phase of growth will come from bigger series, movies, language expansion, global collaborations and animation.

Q) How important is regional content for Applause?
We don’t quite call it ‘regional’ content; for us it remains telling high quality stories in languages beyond our present Hindi/Hinglish slate. The streaming world is increasingly becoming a world without borders and there is growing acceptance for content without borders. This unfolding scenario is also setting the stage for content from India to resonate with audiences all over the world, and not just Indians.