Kailash Surendanath, an iconic name in the ad world, has taken the plunge into the OTT platform with Applause Entertainment’s weberies Chakravyuha.
Recalling his journey, Kailash says, “I started making films from the age of 18. My Dad Surendranath was a singing-star of the 1950s. One fine day, I had a meeting in Lintas. My career as an ad filmmaker took off after my Liril film with the legendary model Karen Lunel. I never looked back after that. I kept doing all the major brands. And, well, here I am!”
Getting married to model Aarti Surendranath changed Kailash’s life. “I continued the rest of my journey with her. We did the national integration films. We did Miley sur mera tumhara, Raag desh, Spread The Light Of Freedom… We became known for these.”
In-between Kailash and Aarti had a setback too. Says Kailash, “We signed up with Vijay Amritraj to make a feature film Love You Hamesha which never took off. We had AR Rahman, Akshaye Khanna and Sonali Bendre on board. Unfortunately, Vijay didn’t have a proper producer in the South. The film was stalled. There was some cheating involved. That was sad, but nonetheless all a part of the learning experience, as you go through life. But it disheartened me. I didn’t want to get into the longstory format at that period of time.”
Then came the digital wave and Kailash was keen. “The entertainment industry was far less organized back then. Now it’s different. I’d say getting into OTT with Chakravyuha is one more decisive moment in our career. It is a change. And one more vertical added. I’ve started a new company for the OTT content. Our first product is Chakravyuha which is done for Applause Entertainment.”
Kailash didn’t think he would make the jump. “I never considered going into television production. But when OTT came our way, we knew we wanted to do this. But we didn’t really know anyone at Netflix, Amazon, etc. At this point Sameer Nair galvanized Applause Entertainment into OTT production. This was our cue to enter the OTT field. Sameer has been a good friend for years and his enterprising spirit has followed him wherever he has gone. We kept discussing the various projects. He has amazing experience and so many feathers in his cap. He seemed the ideal person to work with.”
At this point, Kailash made Sameer Nair an offer. “We pitched these Inspector Virkar books by Piyush Jha to Sameer. Sameer took an instant decision. Everything fell into place immediately thanks to his wonderful team. Now there is no looking back. We want to do more content for the OTT space, and better and better. Chakravyuha under Sameer’s guidance was a learning experience. Of course, we know how to make films. But with Sameer we learnt the specifics of the OTT game. Cinema won’t go away anywhere. Streaming and going to the movies will coexist. We will aim to make quality content in the digital space.”
Kailash’s better-half Aarti Surendranath says, “It’s true that Kailash and I work together. But we are very strong individuals and have learnt to respect one another’s space and talent. Kailash’s achievements are all self-made. His Mile sur mera tumhara has become the second national anthem of the country. People think we are on the same page all the time. That’s just not true. We like to meet half-way in our perspectives. It’s a challenging partnership, not as easy as it may seem to the outside world.”
Aarti is all for the OTT space. “We were hesitant to get into television. Feature films also didn’t work out. The OTT came into our lives at the right time. We had no idea of its business angles. Because of Sameer Nair we pushed ourselves into this platform. We had other friends we could have gone to. But we were very comfortable putting ourselves into Sameer’s hands. He was there for us as we took the plunge.”
Aarti sees the OTT as the future. “The OTT platform is where the future is. Of course, we are cinema loyalists. And movie theatres will always be there. But the OTT platform has opened up new opportunities and avenues. It's a tough competition. Movie theatres and OTT platforms will flourish independently. Yes, there is a censorship issue. But come what may, the digital platform is here to stay. The social and digital media make you answerable to the public like no other previous platforms. However, the star system will rule all entertainment platforms because the public listens to them.”
Image source: Instagram/kailashsurendranath
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