Balaji Telefilms joins Indus Media to enter American TV market

MUMBAI: One of India’s leading television and film production company, Balaji Telefilms, has marked its foray into the American television market by inking an American television series production deal with Indus Media. This deal will see Balaji secure rights to the TV series Brown Nation, a satirical comedy based on the lives of Indian Americans.

This will be the first series under the new deal and is being planned for release in early 2015. Balaji has been scouting for collaborations with international players to produce content for various geographies across media platforms and this will be an important step to reach out to a diverse audience.

The production house had recently roped in media veteran Sameer Nair as the group CEO to spearhead its expansion strategy and lead the way for the next level of growth by identifying unexplored avenues.

“India is at the centre of global limelight and the timing is right for us to create path breaking entertainment on an international stage. We look forward to this partnership to extend our creative success to newer horizons,” said Balaji Telefilms joint managing director Ekta Kapoor.

"We are extremely pleased to join with Indus in producing this series,” added Nair. “American sitcoms have influenced urban India and Indian youth across the globe. This will be a good opportunity for us to leverage our creative supremacy to enter a market not sufficiently fed with similar products,” he further said.

“We have been looking to enter India with our proposed entertainment fund and this fits in well with our India strategy. We are absolutely delighted to associate with Balaji Telefilms to fuel our growth,” said Indus Media founding director Naveen Chathappuram.

Added Indus Media founding director Devarajan, "I have had a long standing relationship with Balaji and this deal is a dream come true. We are very excited about our new creative and business partnership with Balaji and look forward to enhance value to all stakeholders."

American television has always been popular with youngsters in India. Be it ‘Friends’, ‘Two and Half Men’, ‘Big Bang Theory, ‘How I Met Your Mother’ and the like. On the other hand, Indian characters have become a permanent fixture on American television sitcoms, as well as in movies. One of the main reasons for this is the dramatic growth in the size of the Indian American community in the past two decades – Indian American population grew from 815,000 in 1990 to 4.50 million in 2013. Most successful shows launched in the past five years feature a prominent Indian actor: "The Office," "The Big Bang Theory," "30 Rock," "Chuck," and "Parks and Recreation".

Brown Nation, directed by Abi Varghese, is currently being shot in New Jersey and has Indian actor Shenaz Treasurywala playing one of the lead roles. The comedy series depicts the everyday lives of south Asians living in America. The target market for Brown Nation is 18-45 year old Americans and NRIs. Recent comedy series such as The Office and Parks and Recreations have skewed to these age segments while casting a strong, universal appeal to all age groups.

Indus Media recently announced its plans to launch a 50 million dollar entertainment fund to invest in films and television in American and south Indian market. With Balaji’s successful run in the film business, there could be more areas of synergy between the two partners especially the growing south Indian film market.

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