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Audience rejects content which is produced only for provocation or titillation, says Applause Entertainment’s Sameer Nair

With the rise of OTT content creation, Sameer Nair, CEO, Applause Entertainment emphasised that Indian content should be consumed by international audience in the same way as Indians consume international content

Sameer Nair

The audience is wise enough to understand when a content is produced only for titillation and it rejects such content as it gets a sense of the motive, whereas if it’s the demand of the story the public has no issues with it, said Sameer Nair, CEO, Applause Entertainment.

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Nair added that the content on OTTs might come under government scrutiny in the days ahead, and it is the duty of those producing content to ensure it doesn’t demean any of the stakeholders.

Nair said, “The minute you create any content for titillation or for provocation, you will get into trouble as it is usually the audience which rejects such type of content. In the fight between obscenity and a ‘scene’ the root factor is the motive and if the sole purpose of the scene or content is titillation, it is wrong. But if it is a part of the story, then there is not much of an issue because people accept it in that manner.”

He also went on to add, “As the government enlists a certain framework, this obscene and unbridled content will come under scrutiny. As a storyteller, it is our responsibility to cater to all three consumers, society, and government alike and produce content which is not demeaning to any one of the three at the same time.”

Nair was talking to BestMediaInfo.com on the 5-year anniversary of Applause Entertainment. He spoke about the upcoming projects which had the team excited and also on other topics such as how the shows created by them end up on varied platforms, the process involved in creating sequels and the opportunities in the market.

Talking about the new and upcoming content slate of Applause Entertainment, Nair said, “A lot of subsequent seasons of popular shows like ‘Scam’, ‘Undekhi’, ‘City of Dreams’, etc. are lined up.  We have also announced a show on the adaptation of Ram Chandra Guha’s ‘Gandhi’ which will be directed by Hansal Mehta. We are working on animations now as we have received the rights for ‘Amar Chitra Katha’.”

In fact, with the exclusive rights for the animated adaptation of the Amar Chitra Katha, Applause Entertainment plans to target the grown-ups who like animated content. “We want to do it as a cultural export of the mythological stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata and put it out for the world to view across the globe. Like we watch Greek mythology, the world should watch Indian mythology,” he asserted.

According to Nair although the pandemic posed many problems it also gave a much-needed push to OTTs, he said, “When the pandemic happened, there were multiple challenges posed by the lockdown on the production side, be it the delays in shoots or the subsequent falling ill of the cast and crew members. But the good side of the pandemic was that the OTT content consumption increased dramatically. In the last five years, we have carried the release of 40 series and movies altogether.”

Since the situation has improved in the new normal and the working population has resumed work from office, Nair is hopeful that the OTT upsurge will not diminish. “Unlike TV, the streaming platforms are not time-bound and linear, and you can watch it anytime. It is also not bound by language or geography and that’s the beauty of streaming and the revolution that it has brought to the world,” he said.

“Especially with the entry of 5G spectrum in India, as more and more connectivity and audience will increase across the nation, streaming will find its own new levels and will continue to grow,” added Nair.

Furthermore, Nair also pointed out, “In the internet connected world, it is the digital mediums which are gaining prominence and technology is being used at every aspect of life.”

Talking about how Applause decides whether to release a subsequent season of any of their shows, Nair stated, “A lot of it depends on the performance of the Season 1. If the show has done well for the platform in terms of critical acclaim, popularity and on the business metrics which include new subscribers, engagement, etc. We have been very fortunate as we have done a lot of subsequent seasons as the initial seasons did well.”

But with the good performance of Season 1 comes a lot of pressure as well for the subsequent season, as per Nair. “If you are successful, then you are under a lot of pressure. However, if you are not successful, nobody cares. So, it’s not just about the pressure but about telling a good story every time that needs a lot of effort, especially in the business of storytelling,” he added.

Nair also threw light on the profitability angle of several OTT platforms and said, “Most players have a longer-term view of amassing a major chunk of subscribers which is why they plan out a long-term investment horizon.”

Upon being asked about how the decision to air a show on a certain platform is taken, Nair  said that this decision lies in the hands of the OTT players. “The process of selecting an airing platform, depending on first-come-first-serve basis, is not a price war, but a love war,” he stated.

Elaborating on the company’s plan of producing a lot of international adaptations, Nair pointed out, “There are stories that can travel, but there are also stories which a large part of the Indian audience might not have seen because they perceived it to be more obscure or cultish. Even if it has been seen in India, there is only a limited audience which would have seen the original content.”

“The idea of an adaptation is to re-imagine a story, translate it, and take it to a much larger mass audience. The originality of the story must stay, but one also needs to re-imagine it and do it legitimately rather than ripping off the originality part of the content,” he added.

Nair also pointed out that in the next five years, Applause Entertainment expects to witness an increase in the number of streaming subscribers for both AVOD and SVOD models across platforms and that there will be a lot more content consumption with a vibrant content slate across genres and languages. “A lot more international consumers will consume Indian OTT content as much as we consume international content in the coming future,” he said.

“The streaming technology is such that anyone from anywhere can view and consume content on their mobile phones or laptops or any other devices. As more and more people view content, the streaming technology will make it possible to consume regional content across several platforms,” he said.

Moreover, Nair also pointed out that Applause Entertainment targets the entire streaming business in a way that it produced content for individual viewing and not family-viewing.

Nair further went on to elaborate that Applause Entertainment’s core audience belongs to the age group of 18-35 years, male and female urban audience, but with the passage of time the base has been growing. “It’s not a one size fits all when it comes to successful content since it’s a mass of niches, but the one thing that draws the most eyeballs is the power of storytelling,” he said.

He also went on to add that it’s not the genre or the scale or the amount of money put into the production cycle or even the actors or actresses that make a good content piece. “If you are telling a good story that resonates with the audience, the chance of your success is higher. The aim and objective of each content piece is to first tell a good story and then when you get bountiful responses from the public, you realise how good of a content you have produced,” he concluded.


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