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We rather put our money where our mouth is: Siddharth Kumar Tewary, Swastik Productions

17-November-2017
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We rather put our money where our mouth is: Siddharth Kumar Tewary, Swastik Productions

November 27 is an important day for Siddharth Kumar Tewary, Founder, Chief Creative, One Life Studios and Swastik Productions as it will mark the debut of his most ambitious show ‘Porus’ on Sony Entertainment Television at 8.30pm.

Speculated to be one of the costliest shows in the Indian television with numbers rumoured to be running up to almost Rs 500 crore. The show is believed to have taken almost two years to reach here. Tewary has held back its property rights with the production house. 

This helps Tewary to now generate money by licensing it to the anchor broadcaster (SET), and through other deals, syndication of the show in other regional languages, foreign telecasts and digital telecasts. The founder, in a free-wheeling chat, talks about the risk of owning the IP, recovering its cost, his distribution strategy and his interest towards mythology shows and period drama:

1. Why the need to own the IP in the first place?

If content creators and producers start owning the content they create automatically they will try to make it better than what they have done so far. When you have your own content, viewer comes first. For me it’s direct accountability. I am responsible to create content that has a shelf life so that we can monetise our costs and investments over a period of time. So automatically the content becomes better. It’s a win-win on a lot of fronts.

2. How are you planning to distribute it?

We started a company called One Life Studios which has distribution, VFX and original IP. We screened ‘Porus’ at MIPCOM (global market for entertainment content across all platforms) where it received great response. People were quite surprised with this kind of content from India. We are going to ATF(Asia Television Forum) in Singapore on November 28. We have sold it to a few countries. Talks are on with a lot of other countries. We are also in talks with certain digital platforms in India and looking to close it this week.

3. How much of a risk was it investing your money on a mammoth show like this?
Of course it’s a risk. No guts no glory. We rather put our money where our mouth is and then we see what works.

4. Why did you choose to license it to SET?
Me and SET were on the same page to create the next level of Indian content. From a broadcaster’s point of view they could not really invest to make it at this scale. So I told them that I will invest it myself and suggested to become partners.

5. When are you expecting to break even?
When you launch a movie you don’t know what’s your box office is going to be. Having said that, we estimate a period of two to three years to recover our cost.

6. Being costliest show in Indian television, can you share more on the scale of ‘Porus’?
It’s definitely by far the biggest production in the country. There are 2000 odd people working on the show. We shot for a month in Thailand. The whole show was shot outside Mumbai, in Gujarat and Rajasthan. It’s a dream coming true on November 27.

7.You are one of the first content creators to own an IP in the recent times. Going ahead do you see this becoming the norm in the industry?
All broadcasters might not want to take this route. It depends on what kind of shows they want to partner with. We are a talent-driven industry. So it varies. So all broadcasters might not do it on every show that they create. Same goes for us.

8.What drives your interest towards mythology and period dramas?
When I first started working on Mahabharata I realised there is so much to learn. Indian mythology is so deep rooted. We don’t really talk about it. I have been blessed to read them, constantly make them and give that message through this super powerful medium. Creating is a big challenge. I try to make every show better.

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