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Kumar Mangalam Birla revamps Applause Entertainment, ropes in Balaji’s Sameer Nair

Aditya Birla group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla has hired Sameer Nair, the former group chief executive of Balaji Telefilms to revamp its production house Applause Entertainment to make entertainment content for telecom operators and digital platforms such as Netflix, Amazon and Hotstar, reports ET.

The publication reports that Birla will invest up to Rs 300 crore in his personal capacity in Applause Entertainment in the first year of its operations to make 15-20 shows across the drama, romance, crime and thriller genres, and it may occasionally produce movies. The content will be made in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu initially.

Applause Entertainment is Kumar Mangalam Birla’s privately held production company that has been defunct for a long time and produced Amitabh Bachchan starrer movies such as Black (2005) and Dev (2004). Birla had shut Applause Entertainment in 2009 after it struggled to turn a profit.

Sameer Nair stepped down as the Group CEO of Balaji Telefilms last month. Nair had joined Balaji Telefilms as Group CEO on the 15th of July 2014. Prior to joining Balaji Telefilms, he had been the CEO of NDTV Imagine, for five years. Before that he was the programming head, COO and eventually the CEO of Star India, in a career spanning 12 years.  Nair was also the programming Chief at Star TV when Balaji’s shows went on air in 2000.

Note that Nair is also a co-founder and a director on the board of One Network Entertainment, a YouTube MCN, running several channels.

Alt Balaji

During his tenure Nair helped launch Balaji’s video streaming app ALT Balaji, which received 4.2 million downloads for the quarter ended June 2017 (Q1 FY18) , up from 2 million downloads in the last quarter. Last week, ALT Balaji said that it made Rs 2 crore in gross billing during the quarter, via free to paid conversion of ALT Balaji users.

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