Globalisation of Indian Content : A Paradigm Shift
By Sunder Aaron
In this Industry Spotlight with Creative First, Sunder Aaron, co-founder and principal of Locomotive Global; joined Lohita Sujith, Sr. Director, Copyright & Digital Economy, Motion Picture Association discussed the globalization of Indian content.
After leaving Sony Pix—where he was the executive vice-president—Sunder co-founded the company Locomotive, Inc. with the intention of creating Indian content with global relevance. He began this journey years before streaming made content extremely accessible.
Sunder challenged the common misconception that when Indian content goes abroad it’s only consumed by NRIs. Citing Sacred Games, Delhi Crime, and many others as examples, Sunder argued that viewership of Indian-made content extends beyond the diaspora. Still, he admitted that India still has a lot of work to do to draw in a bigger non-Indian audience. He noted that countries like Turkey, South Korea, and even Spain have done this quite well.
Sunder attributed many industry changes due to the globalization of content. Now everyone gets exposure to international content, and, according to Sunder, has influenced the way every filmmaker; whether a writer, cinematographer or actor, grows in their profession.
Later, Sunder shared news of his Locomotive Global’s much anticipated project, the remake of an American classic series, Ray Donovan, as Rana Naidu. In the original story, the main character brings his family from the East coast of the United States to Los Angeles. While many pressed Sunder to change this for the Indian adaptation, he insisted that they stay true to the original storyline. Hence, in the remake a South Indian character brings his family to Mumbai. Sunder and the show’s streaming partner, Netflix, see this as a strategic way to gain viewers in the south. It will be the first time actor Rana Daggubati shares the screen with his uncle Venkatesh Daggubati.
Next, Sunder explained how states can benefit from pushing tax incentives to the film industry. He used the US state of Georgia as an example. While far from Los Angeles, the state has aggressively carved out a name for itself as an affordable place to shoot. As a result, major productions like the Avengers have created jobs, and added millions of dollars to the state’s economy.
The talk ended as Sunder acknowledged that india’s film industry is growing more aggressively than anywhere in the world. He advised all professionals to continue to hone their craft. Further, he was hopeful that India would continue to make great strides in protecting intellectual property rights, what he called the lifeblood of the business.
For the full interview, please watch the video.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sunder Aaron is a principal with Locomotive Global Inc. (LGI), the media company he founded with its investors in 2012. LGI was recently acquired by Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment (NASDAQ: CSSE). From 2002 until 2012, Sunder served as Executive Vice President for Sony Pictures Television Networks India. He was Country Manager for both AXN and Animax from 2005 to 2008, and his primary responsibility was as General Manager for PIX, the Sony network group’s English language movie channel in India, which he conceptualized and launched in 2006. Sunder Aaron also co-owns and manages “The Q India”, a Hindi language general entertainment television channel aimed at Young Indians, 20-30 years old, which is broadcast nationwide in India. Sunder also conceptualized and produced several Original TV Series while working with Sony Television Networks. Prior to that, he was co-founder and chief operating officer (COO) of Cinema Entertainment Group (CEG), a start-up entertainment media company with a Board of Advisors that included Mike Medavoy and Bob Pisano. In the past, Sunder has also held positions with Encore International, Liberty Media Group, Gotham Entertainment Group and J. Walter Thompson, NYC. Sunder Aaron has lived and worked in India for the past 19+ years.