Contiloe’s Abhimanyu Singh on retaining IP, foray in South, and digital challenge

MUMBAI: Contiloe Pictures’ founder Abhimanyu Singh wants to be the master of his own destiny. Therefore, the production will try to retain the intellectual property (IP) rights of the show that it produces.

It has already made a beginning with historical comedy show ‘Tenali Rama’. While the show airs on Sony Pictures Networks India’s Hindi GEC Sony SAB, Contiloe has sold the telecast of Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam markets to ZEEL.

The Tamil and Telugu versions of the show are already on-air on Zee Tamil and Zee Telugu. The Malayalam version will air on ZEEL’s soon to launch Malayalam GEC.

The production house is also looking to expand into the Southern market by creating original TV shows for regional GECs down South. It is in talks with a leading broadcaster to produce a mytho show.

Contiloe is the second production house after Swastik Productions to retain the IP of the show. In most cases, it is the broadcasters who own the IP. Interestingly, SPNI is the broadcaster in both the cases.

So why did Contiloe Pictures decide to retain the IP of ‘Tenali Rama’? Singh said that the production house took the decision after seeing a positive response to its show in the global market.

He further stated that the content created by Contiloe is resonating beyond India and is not just limited to Hindi speaking markets. He cited the examples of ‘Chakravartin Ashoka Samrat’ and ‘Sankat Mochan Mahabali Hanuman’ which are doing well in Indonesia and Thailand respectively. Both the shows air on Sony Entertainment Television (SET).

“We have started acquiring IPs and we intend to carry it forward because of the kind of shows that we do whether they are historical or mythological they have wider appeal across India and lot of our shows have done very well within South East Asia,” Singh told TelevisionPost.com.

However, Singh noted that retaining IP is a risky proposition as one has to invest in it.

Talking about the expansion in South, Singh that the discussion with the network is in a very advanced stage and the project will be announced soon.

“South market is quite relevant to us because Contiloe is known for creating historical and mythological shows and both these genre does really well in South India. Dubbed versions of our shows like ‘Hanuman’, ‘Ganesha’ and ‘Tenali Rama’ has worked very well in South India. Our content is being accepted there as they are resonating well with the audience and we would like to maximise that opportunity,” he added.

So what is driving production houses to retain IP considering the risks involved? Singh said that the decision to own an IP depends on the shelf life of the content.

“Every piece of content doesn’t have a shelf life. It is important to identify which content has shelf value. Mythological and Historical shows have definite IP value,” he averred.

Talking about the content trends in Hindi GEC, Singh said that soap operas continue to rule television, however, producers are now experimenting with several sub-genres to offer variety.

“Now with the new platforms emerging there are many stories that can be told, the biopics and real incident stories will be seen more and more. In future, strong content won’t be bounded by the barriers of language and territories. Creating content catering to global content is another emerging trend. Also, I feel now people will love to stories in a shorter and better manner and we are there to deliver so I am happy with it,” he stated.

Singh also noted that the 4G roll-out and the crashing of data prices, digital is bound to cannibalise into TV viewership. “Currently the cannibalisation is taking place at the top end of the pyramid but with an increase in bandwidth, it is going to go deeper. I think it will work both ways. It will compliment as well as cannibalise,” he said.

Considering the opportunity that digital provides to content producers, Contiloe also plans to foray into digital content creation. It wants to create content that is global in nature.

“As an entertainment brand, we would like to tell the stories to the wider audience across the globe. A lot of Indian stories have an ability to travel across the world we want to tell those stories,” he said.

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