Keshet Asia establishes office in India, appoints Arpit Agarwal & Mihir Karlekar

MUMBAI: Keshet Asia, the Hong Kong-based subsidiary of Keshet International (KI), has expanded its footprint in India with two major hires and establishing an office in Mumbai.

Arpit Agarwal will lead the Indian operation on the ground as director, India and SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) reporting to Gary Pudney, head of Asia. Mihir Karlekar joins Agarwal as the senior sales manager, India and SAARC.

Together, they will seek to increase the volume of KI’s scripted and non-scripted formats being adapted for the Indian audience, and uncover local IP for international distribution. They will also co-develop with Indian creators and begin to lay the foundations for an eventual local production business.

The Indian operation has been established following the launch of two flagship KI properties in the country; the epic 110-episode adaptation of 'Prisoners of War' (Bandi Yuddh Ke) which aired on Star Plus and was the no.1 trending topic on Twitter during its premiere; and the country’s first-ever live voting talent show 'Rising Star' which is airing on Viacom18’s Colors, and peaked with a rating of 2.4 in prime time. With live voting powered by the Screenz Platform, the Color's app garnered 3.6 million downloads at launch, and is steadily rising as the format sets the bar for innovation in TV engagement.

Pudney said, “India is a vibrant market in which we see huge potential. The success of 'Prisoners of War' and 'Rising Star' has demonstrated our catalogue’s ability to resonate with local viewers, but as well as selling more content into the region, we are equally keen to begin producing and acquiring IP. With Arpit and Mihir on board, we feel we have the right people in place to capitalise on our success and drive the business forward.”

Agarwal said, “Keshet International has made rapid inroads into the Indian market in the last year and I’m hugely excited at the prospect of further expanding its footprint in the SAARC region – home to over a billion eager TV viewers.”

With more than 20 years’ experience, Agarwal joins Keshet Asia from Singaporean distribution and production company Bomanbridge Media where he was the director of business development & sales across south Asia and licensed more than 450 hours of finished tape and formats in the region. Prior to Bomanbridge Media, Agarwal was the business head at general entertainment channel Sahara One where he commissioned two major prime-time drama series. Agarwal also headed operations at FremantleMedia India, and was an intrinsic part of the launch of The X Factor India, and the roll-out of Indian Idol V and India’s Got Talent III among others.

Karlekar joins Keshet Asia from consumer electronics conglomerate LeEco where he was the senior manager - content business development and strategic alliances, a role which saw him closing partnership deals with leading domestic and international OTT platforms. Prior to this he was the commercial manager, acquisitions at Zee Entertainment, where he managed all linear/non-linear content acquisition for three OTT platforms, FTA and niche channel clusters and format licensing for GECs, before stepping up to head of commercial at Zee TV’s digital convergence arm.

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