"Technology has allowed us to break the barriers of both geography and language": Rohit Jain, MD, Lionsgate South Asia & Networks, Emerging Markets Asia - The Daily Guardian
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“Technology has allowed us to break the barriers of both geography and language”: Rohit Jain, MD, Lionsgate South Asia & Networks, Emerging Markets Asia

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Rohit Jain
Rohit Jain

NewsX was recently joined by Rohit Jain, MD, Lionsgate South Asia & Networks, Emerging Markets Asia for an exclusive conversation as a part of its special series, NewsX A-List where he spoke about the organization and its unique strategies.

Talking about Lionsgate launch, plans for India and what launching its own platform entail Jain said, “ So a couple of things are taking a step back globally. Our OTT platform runs under the brandname ‘Stars Play’ in large parts of Asia we have branded it as Lionsgate Play, but we are now running across about 55 plus countries, one of the most widely distributed OTT platforms worldwide and within that scheme of things India is among the international markets and prioritize as one of the top 5 focus markets. So, in that sense the entire Lionsgate leadership team , myself, we are extremely focused on India and its opportunity.”

Talking about the USP of the organisation Rohit said, “We have 4-5 things that make us the brand we are worldwide. I’ll answer this in two parts. First, our USP is our content strategy. We are extremely focused on content creation, our curation of best from all over the world is something that is very central to everything we do. One of our learnings in time after time, every research that we do is that this abundance of content sometimes with the consumers. While there is an abundance of content, they are yet struggling to find what to watch next. Our latest marketing campaign is to browse less and play more. So just our curation strategy. The second is in terms of the premiumness of our content. We are about very premium, very cinematic scale content, high budget series, movies, blockbuster movies and all of that. So, I think that is very important to us. Just the experience we are working on in terms of our app engagement, there is a lot of work happening in that area, especially in the Indian market we see there’s a wide gap between experience promise and delivery in many cases.”

“Lastly, I would say specific to India is just the price point. If you look at the premium platform, our global peer group in India is priced between 199 to 299 per month and I am not even counting the 500 rupee outlier. We are priced at 99 rupee per month, with an annual price of 699. I think with the content that we have it becomes very super attractive but the second part to mention in a buzzing market like India and sometimes we get a little overwhelmed with the data but from the way we look at it, we are still a very very underserved market and to give an example, US with a 10 year old OTT market has around 800 OTT apps with at least 80 of them being subscription based and I’d say major premium OTT platforms would be about 8-10 with many more launching every year. You’ve got HBO max launching, peacock and so many more. We are still a market with 6-8 subscription platforms and arguably only 3 premium content. So I think we have, given the budgets that people have, 2-3 who play in the premium content and then a bunch of others who play in TV plus quality. We are still at the beginning curve of the India OTT market and there’s still a dearth of premium platforms we believe that this is a great time for us to come in,” said Rohit.

Speaking about the content strategy for India he said, “Our content strategy is kind of interesting and very differentiated from every other major global platform. Core to that is the belief that technology has allowed us to break the barriers of both geography and language. Today people are watching content across all languages, we are sitting in India watching Spanish, Italian, Korean everything. So, we look at the globe as one common market place. When we look at our originals for example, we look at our originals as a common content slate and a well rounded slate that I want to offer my consumers all over the world. Indians are as global as people in the UK, US or anywhere else. What that means is that I’ll be creating something like we have a fantastic series called ‘Hotel Continental and the production’ which is based on the very famous John Wick franchise. We have something called ‘Vida’ that’s been made on mexican sisters. If there is something being made in the UK called ‘Becoming Elizabeth’ based on Queen Elizabeth I and we have some great Indian stories that are getting produced in India so it becomes really interesting. When we look at a two billion dollar investment in content it just allows us to look at the world a little bit differently. The other is our content strategy and that is worldwide. Unlike some other platforms we are not a family audience network, we are a lot about young to mature adult age groups. Hence, our content is very edgy, very urban and very provocative and stories that are untold. So it is a lot about that and a lot of that will be demonstrated of course and nothing to take away from our great Indian slate that is going to come up in the next few months. You’ll hear more about it but we’re working with very accomplished makers, actors and I’m very excited about how things are coming along.”

Talking about working with Indian actors, writers and directors he said, “We have our first lead of originals going into production. We are working with great makers that we love and believe who have knowledge of the entire digital OTT content, storytelling people who have belief system the same as we have so we’re working with people like Kunal Kohli, we are doing some co-productions with Anil Kapoor, we’re doing some stuff with Endemol. So, again these are the things we are very excited about and in coming weeks you’ll start hearing more about it in terms of a little more colours to all our series.”

Lastly, talking about the response in India and future plans Rohit remarked, “Response has been great. We have followed a unique strategy, all OTT platforms in India have gone from B2C first and then they’ve gone and collaborated with B2B players especially telcos. We followed the reverse, we actually launched our B2B in 2019 and we launched our B2B in November. It has allowed literally 10-15 million consumers to come sample our content and engage with us. There is no academic research that is as fulfilling as actual insights. We’ve had 1-1.5 years of actual data around what people are watching, what they are enjoying. All of that has led us to launch with far more knowledge than a typical launch would be. The numbers with the launch have been great so far, they’re always short of my global CEOs expectation, given the ambition he has around the region. But it is coming along really well so far. We are also launching a bunch of more markets in the next few months. The second big market in Asia has very similar macroeconomic factors like India, is Indonesia and we’re launching that next month. All in all we are very excited for 2021 with the vaccination  drive in the process hopefully this is a great year for everyone.”

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Since I was young, I just wanted to do what Dad did: Rinzing Dengzongpa

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Actor Rinzing Dengzongpa joined NewsX for a candid chat as a part of NewsX India A list. In the exclusive interview, Rinzing shared a lot about himself as an actor, making his Bollywood debut with an action film and the advice that his dad gave him for ahead of his first movie release. Read excerpts:

Speaking about his debut film Squad, which will soon be releasing on Zee 5, Rinzing said, “It was all Nilesh. I think, around 2018, we had met. He called me for a meeting. I didn’t know what it was about. I knew it was going to be an action movie, but that’s about it. After having a conversation with him, I realised that his knowledge of action is pretty damn good. I had full trust in whatever he had coming. He narrated the script to me and I had also like that, so it was just full stream ahead from there.”

Talking about the stunts that he performed in Squad and how prepared himself for all of that, he expressed, “It was fun. We had our team from Poland and China come down to India for a few weeks. It was nice to have them train and do the fight choreography with me. It also made that easier like when we reached Belarus to shoot. We had another five days of training but those five days were just to recoup and remember all the moves that we had already practiced. It was amazing and a lot of fun.”

When asked about picking an action film as his debut film and when did he decide to become an actor, Rinzing responded, “Of course, I myself love action movies. I love action comedies, action thrillers, so it is one of those genres that I am happy that it is my first movie.” He added, “I decided to become an actor when i was quite young actually. I just wanted to do what dad was doing because I wanted to do what I had seen him do while growing up. As I was growing up, he would always be on sets, I would go to visit him on sets. Since I was young, I just wanted to do what dad does.”

He also told us the advice that his dad (Denny Dengzongpa) gave him ahead his debut film and said, “I actually told him after I just about to sign with Nilesh. Otherwise, he didn’t know anything. He didn’t know anything about Squad and Nilo and me, meeting Nilesh, for example. I used to do everything basically on my own. It was easier. It is just like a nice surprise. He called me today at morning and he said he is very proud of me.”

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NANDANA SEN LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN TO HELP VULNERABLE CHILDREN DEVASTATED BY COVID-19

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In a bid to ensure safety and welfare of the most vulnerable children whose lives have been torn apart by the deadly combination of Covid-19 and Cyclone Yaas, writer, actor, and child-rights activist Nandana Sen has launched a campaign ‘For a Safe Tomorrow’ in partnership with Save the Children India.

The campaign has successfully mobilised resources for activating on-ground relief work for 200 children, and Nandana and Save the Children announced that they were expanding the campaign to support a greater number of the most at-risk children of West Bengal, who will gain access to a safe living environment, food security, education, healthcare and psychosocial support.

“I’m incredibly grateful for the overwhelming response to our campaign to nurture and protect 200 of the most vulnerable children, and I’m delighted that we can now aim to safeguard many more. These children, who have lost one or both parents and essentially their lifelines, stand exposed to trafficking, child labour and child marriage—and nowhere has this crisis hit harder than in my beloved West Bengal. Save the Children has the commitment, credibility and expertise to ensure that this initiative will be optimally rolled out to protect children who most need our care. I’m touched and inspired by the success of our campaign, which shows that all of us stand in solidarity when the cause is as urgent as the safety of children in crisis,” comments Nandana.

“Save the Children is equally delighted and thankful to all the supporters for the success of this campaign. We are now gearing up to implement the project to support the most deprived children, to start with. Immediate care-givers of children orphaned/abandoned and at-risk will be provided financial support to meet their medical, nutritional, educational and protection needs,” shares Yasmin Riaz, Director of Resource Mobilisation, Save the Children, India.

‘For a Safe Tomorrow’ will target the most marginalised and at-risk children identified across two coastal blocks in the South 24 Parganas district for the period of a year.

The support, given to each child on a monthly basis, will be allocated following a rigorous screening process to ensure that the funds are being utilised to help the children most in need. The plan will be monitored and reviewed until the vulnerability of each child is addressed comprehensively.

In addition to financial and educational support, trained outreach workers and cadres, employed by Save the Children India, will provide counseling and psychosocial support to overcome the trauma associated with the loss of a parent or caregiver. Children who need in-depth psychosocial assistance will be carefully guided to professional mental health institutions or counsellors.

Save the Children’s Covid responses during the first and the second wave were customised to the changing landscape of community needs. In the first response, the NGO reached more than 15 lakh lives including around six lakh children with its humanitarian response during the first wave, and more than 2.5 lakh people with food and hygiene kits distribution.

During the second wave, it supported public health facilities in 15 states with more than 800 oxygen concentrators. The support was extended in the states of Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh with facilitating dedicated paediatric Covid care wards, along with setting up of an oxygen plant in Shravasti district of Uttar Pradesh. 

I’m touched and inspired by the success of our campaign, which shows that all of us stand in solidarity when the cause is as urgent as the safety of children in crisis.

— Child-rights activist Nandana Sen

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Technological breakthroughs to mark the return of IFSEC India

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The International Fire & Security Exhibition and Conference (IFSEC) India Expo, South Asia’s largest security, civil protection and fire safety show by Informa Markets in India is gearing up for the return of its 14th edition which is slated between December 9 and 11 at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi.Supported by associations such as APSA, ASIS Delhi, ASIS Bangalore, CAPSI, ESAI, ELCINA, FOCUS, GACS, IISSM, World UAV Federation India Chapter along with MitKat Advisory as knowledge partner, the show brings together internationally renowned exhibitors, consultants, business experts and key government officials under one common platform. India’s safety and security industry can be broadly classified into cyber security, electronic security, fire safety/detection/prevention, road safety, private and industrial security, and personal protective apparel and equipment. The safety and security industry in India has been consistent in recent years, and various industry segments in the domain are likely to grow between 10-15% annually. An increase in population, rapid urbanization, expansion of industries, vast infrastructure and mass transportation systems are driving expectations for greater safety and security measures, predominantly in critical national infrastructure projects. Yogesh Mudras, Managing Director, Informa Markets in India, said, “We are delighted to announce IFSEC India’s return in the in-person format in New Delhi, to cater to the security industry in the new normal. While the security market in India has grown at a CAGR of 14%, it is expected to be further driven by the enhanced digitisation during the pandemic and requirement for security along with the construction of industrial complexes, public infrastructure and residential complexes. Proactive policies and initiatives like Smart Cities and Atmanirbharta fueled by the Government of India are allowing an ecosystem where businesses can be developed more easily by granting industry status to further catalyse this growth. Contactless technology is seen as a key measure being increasingly used across industries today in the post-pandemic world. IFSEC India 2021 aims to act as a catalyst for the progress and vision of this proliferating industry, as it provides a stage for industry players to collaborate, ideate, innovate, spot trends and enable the shift in India’s security paradigm from a monitoring approach to a responsive one.”This year, cutting edge technology pertaining to products like CCTV & video surveillance, biometrics & RFID, integrated systems, access control, cyber security, GPS Systems, video management, traffic management & parking automation, physical security, perimeter protection, fire detection systems, intruder alarms and more will be showcased. It will bring together over 150 renowned brands, key government officials, consultants and business experts. The Buyer profile of the expo includes professionals such as CSOs, Admin Heads, CIOs, CTOs, Facility Heads, Purchase Managers, System Integrators and Dealers & Distributors of organisations.Significantly, in an industry where up-gradation of technology is the very key to surviving competition.

With security in India being a continuous effort, this year too, IFSEC India will hold a two-day conference that will discuss and deliberate relevant insights gained in the domestic and global security market with the theme: New-Age Threats to Security alongside the exhibition.

The conference will witness the presence and participation of eminent industry personalities including Lt Gen Anil Chait, PVSM, AVSM, VSM, former Army Commander & Chief of Integrated Defence Staff, Avtar Singh, CBCP, Chief of Security & Intelligence, Aluminium Sector, Vedanta, Air Cmde Kedar R Thaakar, Dean, School of Police science and Security Studies, National Forensic State University, Col (Dr) Gaurav Singh (retd), Head-Security Automation, Adani Group, Jeetendra Kumar Singh, Chief Security Officer, Fortis Healthcare and Col Arun Hariharan, Country Head-Nodal, Security, Compliance & HSE, Bharti Airtel Limited – India & South Asia among others.

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NEERAJ KOCHHAR INITIATES EMPLOYEE’S MEDITATION PROGRAM

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According to research, more than 92% of the workers suffer mental burnouts from stress linked to their working place.The recent Covid-19 situation has contributed to an increase in mental issues, especially amongst the corporate employees. Many thriving companies are using mediation as a tool to empower a community of healthy and happy employees. One such company taking initiative in this direction is Viraj Profiles Limited, the largest Indian manufacturer and exporter of stainless steel long products. The organisation wholeheartedly invests in the development of human capital to utilise the untapped potential and to create opportunities.The company has set up meditation centers across all its office locations in India to improve the mental well-being of its employees.Neeraj Kochhar, Chairman & Managing Director, Viraj Profiles Ltd, who himself has been regularly practicing Yoga and meditation had given an insightful thought before implementing the company’s first wellness program in April 2020 for his employees to cope with the stress. He believes that meditation has many in-office health benefits at mental and also at the physical level.The company organised its first live webinar on 4 May 2020 with the renowned Brahma Kumari Sister Shivani for its employees, partners and suppliers, etc. The program was much appreciated by all the participants and from that day onwards there was no looking back. Since then, Kochhar has made sure to organise regular motivational sessions for his employees. The program has continued to help employees as well as their partners to live a healthier and more active lives. The company, in association with Brahma Kumaris, has organised more than 450 motivational and meditation sessions for its employees in last one and half year covering around 9,000 employees across all levels.The benefits of conducting such sessions for the employees was soon evident with the increased positivity and productivity amongst the employees. Going a step further, the company launched another weekly interactive session called Good Morning Viraj.Talking about the programme, Kochhar said “The program is named as “Good Morning Viraj” and is organised every Saturday morning with the participation of each and every employee in the office and plant location. We also invite a guest speaker from Brahma Kumari to share their views and enlightening perspective to cope up with stress, especially in the current times. In past, we have invited Sister Shivani, BK Yogini Behn, Suresh Oberoi and several other prominent speakers.” Kochhar further adds, “At our Boisar plant, you’ll find a dedicated Meditation Centre with the capacity of more than 150 people and our employees are free to use that facility at all times. You will also find a separate meditation room at our Head Office as well as all other offices. We consider our employees as one of the most valuable assets as they help us scale greater heights. We invest time and resources to ensure that their overall growth and mental well-being is emphasised upon”.He further added, “We offer free consultation and personalised mental guidance to everybody in and outside the office. Initially, the employees felt odd about the meditation program but currently, the session is witnessing regular attendance and encouraging participation from the employees. Health is the focus area for every individual but most people ignore their mental well-being. I always encourage my employees to take care of their physical health, mental stability and follow an active routine”.Kochhar was recently honoured with Golden Achievement Award by Brahma Kumaris during their annual programme at their Head Quarters in Mount Abu. The programme was attended by more than 300 members of Brahma Kumaris and was streamed live all across the globe. Kochhar has been honoured for his dedication and commitment towards bringing in a positive change in society and amongst his Viraj family of more than 9,000 employees.Viraj Profiles Ltd, as a company, has taken responsibility for supporting employees’ emotional stability. Meditation has the power to reduce stress, reduce blood pressure while easing the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Thus, emotional intelligence has garnered considerable attention in the workplace because of its positive association with mental and physical health and its connection to leadership capacity and performance.

We consider our employees as one of the most valuable assets as they help us scale greater heights. We invest time and resources to ensure that their overall growth and mental well-being is emphasised upon.

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‘I wanted to preserve the sense of purity of the script and the team’: Vishesh Bhatt

In this interview, Amol Parashar and Vishesh Bhatt talk about their latest project, ‘Cash.’ The comedy film is set against the backdrop of the post-demonetization period.

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Actor Amol Parashar and producer Vishesh Bhatt have been entertaining millennials and Gen Z audiences with their relatable content. However, their latest comedy film, Cash, is something that managed to tickle the funny bones of people across age groups. We invited the duo for an interesting conversation as part of our latest series, NewsX India A-List. Below are the excerpts from the interview:

We opened the interview by asking Amol about the compliments he has received after the film’s release, to which Amol shared, “I don’t want to choose any one compliment, because, generally, the whole vibe has been very reassuring, very pleasant, very positive from everyone.” Telling us about his family’s response, he further said, “My parents are loving it. My younger cousins are loving it. Anybody who’s seen the film so far is loving it. My dad came up to me and said that he could not find any negative reviews about the film on the internet.” Amol also informed us that it was his first film as the lead actor, Vishesh’s first film as a solo producer, and likewise for the director, Rishabh, and hence the reviews of the film carried a great value for the team. The film’s lead actress Smriti has debuted in the movie.

Our next question was to Vishesh. We asked if he felt satisfied with his decision of backing the project. In his reply, Vishesh expressed his joy about producing the film without the interference of other producers and production houses. “I wanted to preserve the sense of purity of the script and the team,” said the producer. Moreover, he stated, “I started a new brand, as a company, which can promote narratives with a newer team, from a younger audience’s or younger protagonist’s perspective.”

We then asked the team if they felt that the viewers could connect well to the movie because of the struggles they themselves faced during demonetization. Affirming the assumption, Amol said that even though the viewers did find the film relatable, the idea did not strike the team while they were executing the project. “I did not have this in my mind while we were working on the film,” said the actor. 

For our last question, we asked Vishesh if he has found a particular genre that he wants to focus on. To this, Vishesh said, “I have been part of that narrative for quite some time and I did a film called ‘Jannat’ and then I did Murder 3 that was different from the other ‘Murder’ films, but, I have tried to do something new always, something that is pushing the envelope of the mainstream.” Putting forward his thought about OTT platforms, Vishesh said “What I have experienced for the first time is that the weekend and the Tuesday, or the Wednesday, we are talking about, the old world would be talking about the box office numbers. But what with OTT is that, because they are accessible instantly, at the convenience to so many people. What surprises me is that there are, just within a day or two, I have people all over my housing society and various other people who have already consumed the film. They probably could not have made the time to go to the theatres otherwise, but they could easily access it.”

Watch the full interview on NewsX YouTube page:

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‘The idea of doing something with just your voice was very challenging’: Rithvik Dhanjani

In this interview, Rithvik Dhanjani talks about his maiden audio-based project, ‘Buri Nazar.’ He describes the challenges and excitement of acting in this new medium, while also telling us about his journey in the entertainment industry.

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Rithvik Dhanjani

Rithvik Dhanjani rose to fame with his role in Pavitra Rishta, and his dance performances in Jhalak Dikhla Jaa. He is a well-known face in the Indian television and web entertainment spaces. However, ironically, after his latest project, Buri Nazar, Rithvik has been receiving praises, not for his visual charisma, but for the magic he has brought into the show with just his voice. We hosted Rithvik for an impromptu conversation for our latest series, NewsX India A-List. Below are the excerpts from the interview:

We opened the interview by asking Rithvik about how the project came to be, and what aspect of the project was the most appealing for him. Rithvik stated, “I was completely unaware of not just the platform but also the power of the platform and so much that you can do with just audio. The team of Audible reached out to me a couple of times, for multiple projects, and this was one of the productions that they reached out to me for, and they were like, ‘just give it a read and see what it is like.’” Rithvik loved the idea that the project was going to be an audio remake of the Amazon Original movie Evil Eye. “The script was amazing, the platform was great, and the idea of doing something with just your voice was very challenging,” said the actor. This challenging aspect of the project made it all the more interesting for Rithvik.

We were then curious to know if Rithvik had to undertake any special preparation for his first audio-based acting gig. To this, Rithvik shared with us, “I prepped just like I would prep for another script because the script was very self-explanatory, it was written beautifully, the drafting was amazing, the lines were great.” He continued, “So, we had a couple of sessions with my director to, sort of, understand what he is wanting my character to look like– sorry, sound like.” Rithvik chuckled while pointing out the ironic error in his speech. He added that he did not require any particular training for the audio series, however, his voice skills from his training as an actor proved to be of great help during the project.

For our final question, we asked Rithvik about the roles he thinks have been the most important ones in his career. Rithvik replied, “I think Pavitra Rishta has been one of the shows that have, practically, shaped my life to what it is today. Apart from Pavitra Rishta, I think it has to be Cartel which has just been released on Alt Balaji and MX Player.” Further expressing his thought, Rithvik said that he believes that every part he has played has proven to be an important one in some way or the other. He finished his reply by saying, “If I did not do Jhalak Dikhla Jaa at the point when I did it, people would have ignored that I am a dancer as well. So, I think that, too, played an important part. But if you ask me about characters and shows, it has to be Pavitra Rishta and Cartel.”

Watch the full interview on NewsX YouTube page:

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