We are mandated to create content for Asia, not just India: Deepak Dhar, Banijay Asia
The content studio will also get some international shows from its global library, but Dhar shared that the primary focus area will be creating original content
Deepak Dhar, has recently partnered with the Paris-based independent content creator, Banijay group, and is excited to bring scripted and unscripted TV formats in a bid to expand the group’s presence in India and South East Asia.
Emphasising more on their originals, Dhar said, “There will be a lot of reality shows, game shows and talent show formats which are coming to us from the Banijay catalogue. What I am most excited about is the opportunity to create a lot of original formats and original stories. The landscape has just woken up with a lot happening in the broadcast and OTT space. The exciting opportunity lies in the fact that we can just create an idea on a white sheet of paper and then translate it into the next level and take it to the big screen.”
The content studio will also get some international shows from its global library, but Dhar reiterated that the primary focus area will be on creating original content. Dhar added, “It is going to be a mix of both. While we are looking at reality formats which are international, the big focus area will be creating a lot of originals that can travel within the country and Asia. We are mandated to create content for the entire region of Asia and not just India. We are looking at content which can travel to Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore, and across the region and globally as well.”
In his new role as Founder & CEO, Dhar will lead the business, content strategies, partnerships and alliances within the region, with India being the central focus. Dhar said, “The idea is to be an executive producer and creative director; to come together with a bunch of like-minded creative producers under this banner and set up some compelling ideas, stories and formats.”
Banijay Asia is already set to roll out its first set of shows and Dhar indicated that within two weeks, they will make an announcement. The studio is in talks with all players across platforms including TV and digital. Talking about the studio, and the team he said, “It's a creative studio and not a production studio. We are a team of 15 creative producers coming together under Banijay Asia company which will create content for our colleagues in the broadcast space across genres and region. Also, we are bringing some big reality formats in the country, but the focus is going to be on originals.” Dhar refused to reveal the names of the other creative producers and key management people.
Under Banijay Asia, the company will produce scripted and non-scripted content across multiple genres. “As a content studio, it's important for us to create content for all screens. We are looking at the broadcast space very actively, whereas also focusing on the OTT space and taking short steps in the film space as well,” explained Dhar.
The group has also planned to produce children's content. “Live action kids content is a little under-served in our country. We see that as an opportunity and plan to create some great characters and great story lines for our kids,” he said.
Banijay announced the Indian market venture last week, for which, the group chose former Endemol Shine India Managing Director Dhar, to head the India business along with South East Asia. Banijay entered the market in 50:50 JV with Dhar, and the head office has been set up in Mumbai.
On the investment front, Dhar refused to give numbers and said, “The investment is very proportional to the development to this market within India and in the Asian regions, so I can’t put a number to that. If you see our investments in Banijay, we have globally expanded in all parts of US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand and now Asia. So obviously, the focus point of investment is going to be in proportion to our ambition and to grow the business across the region in Asia.”
Dhar also spoke about the challenges lying in the South East Asia market. He believes that no opportunity comes without any challenges. He sees some challenges in terms of language, culture and the content consuming habits, but also thinks that drama and emotions know no languages. "There is already a lot of content that has travelled to Vietnam and other Asian countries," he said.
As for entering the film division, Dhar shared that currently the team is evaluating scripts and will probably green light those in the next couple of months.
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