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Keshet Asia makes two major hires, opens office in Mumbai

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

Arpit Agarwal will lead the India operation on the ground as director, India and SAARC. He will report to head of Asia Gary Pudney. Mihir Karlekar joins Agarwal as senior sales manager, India, Saarc.

TelevisionPost.com was the first to report that Keshet would set foot in India and open an office in Mumbai this year.

Mihir Karkelar PhotoAgarwal and Karlekar will seek to increase the volume of KI’s scripted and non-scripted formats being adapted for Indian audiences 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 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 primetime. With live voting powered by the Screenz Platform, the Color’s app garnered 3.6 million downloads since 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.”

Arpit Agarwal PhotoAgarwal 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 director of business development and sales across South Asia and licensed more than 450 hours of finished tape and formats in the region. Prior to Bomanbridge Media, he was business head at general entertainment channel Sahara One where he commissioned two major prime-time drama series. He 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 from consumer electronics conglomerate LeEco where he was 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 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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