'Adaptations are smart originals because Indian audiences haven't seen them'

Applause Entertainment’s Head of Content Deepak Segal and Head of Revenue & Marketing Ashok Cherian reveal why synergy between creative and marketing teams is crucial for great content

e4m by Sonam Saini
Updated: Mar 20, 2020 6:11 PM  | 4 min read

Launched in 2017, Aditya Birla-owned Applause Entertainment has been growing strong in storytelling in the digital ecosystem. It has been bringing in differentiated content with adaptations of several books and international shows apart from original shows. In an interaction with e4m, Head of Content Deepak Segal and Ashok Cherian, Head, Revenue & Marketing speak about the content studio's journey so far. The two also elaborate on how the creative & marketing team join forces to bring in great stories that make for quality entertainment.

“We are leaning towards the film-looking content and not the daily soap, quickly turning around content. Hence we needed people with a sensibility of being able to handle that,” shared Deepak Segal, Head Content, Applause Entertainment on building a team for Applause. 

Applause works under multiple approaches to build their content, which includes book adaptations, international adaptations and original content. "Creating original content takes its own time because first of all, Indian writers were, one, not used to writing the ten-episode with all the beats. Getting people to write such content took time. Also, adapting is another art because contextualisation is very important. So one is contextualising and the other is original writing. That is the bedrock of creativity and Applause's story.” 

The studio has brought the rights of several bestselling books of India and is adapting their stories for the web. These include Sucheta Dalal & Debashis Basu’s The Scam, which has been successfully converted to an Indian version titled Scam 1992, Shiv Aroor and Rahul Singh's India's Most Fearless adapted into Avrodh, Novoneel Chakraborty’s The Stranger Trilogy has been adapted into Hello Mini and Rachna Singh’s Band Baaja Boys has been created into a dramedy titled Mannphodganj.

The studio also partnered with studios across the world to create the Indian adaptations of acclaimed shows which includes, The Office and Criminal Justice on Hotstar and Luther with BBCW. Also collaborated with Armoza Format for three show Hostages, La Famiglia and Honey Badgers. In association with Yes Studios to bring in the Indian version of the Israeli series Your Honor and Fauda

On the original content front, the studio has already produced City of Dreams for Hotstar and is now developing original stories in various genres like Taj : A Monument of Blood, Rasbhari, Hasmukh, Bhaukaal. Applause has forayed into regional content with its first Tamil show Iru Dhuruvam

 “Some adaptations always provide speed to market. Also, the writing is defined and we know where the story is going. Of course, there's a lot of work we focus on to adapt to India. There is a lot of work that's not definitely not easy. It's not like you copy the entire show. We believe the adaptations are the smart originals because the Indian audiences haven't seen them.” mentioned Ashok Cherian, Head, Revenue & Marketing, Applause Entertainment. 

When it comes to producing shows, Applause Entertainment follows the self commissioning model. Cherian added, “ We went ahead and created stories which we felt have to be told to the Indian audience. We commissioned line producers and worked with them. The shows we produced were not pilots, we made a full season. What that does is it helps the platform or streaming partner to watch the episodes and make an informed decision.” The IP of most of the shows produced or developed by Applause remains with the studio

The primary revenue model that the studio has is licensing but they are also into syndication the content globally. For instance, if the studio has done a domestic deal, international rights remain with the platform. Cherian added, “There's a lot of interest for Indian content and premium series out of India. There is active interest so we are engaging with some very interesting international partners to put stuff out there.”

At Applause Entertainment, the creative and marketing teams work together to bring out the great content backed by market intelligence. Cherian shared that the teams work closely to deliberate on how is the show positioned and what the poster look and the trailer look like. 

“There is a lot of collaborative work that happens between both the teams. How the trailer looks, what the poster communicates, we agonize on the smallest things and spend a lot of time on them. And that is our differentiator -- Applause versus everything else that has been created in the market.”

Applause has also announced 19 shows, nine of which are already streaming across various platforms. In the lineup of upcoming shows include approximately 10-12 premium shows till April 2021, while a lot more will be in the development stage. 

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