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India’s Applause Entertainment and Israel’s Yes studios seal partnership

Hitmaking Israeli producer Yes Studios and Indian content producing giant Applause Entertainment are extending their existing agreement into a full-scale partnership.

Applause, the content studio of the Aditya Birla Group, has previously adapted Yes’s “Your Honor” for SonyLIV and “Tanaav,” the reimagining of Yes’s “Fauda” bows on SonyLIV on Nov. 11. Applause also has a relationship with Armoza Formats and has adapted its “Hostages,” “La Famiglia” as “Mind the Malhotras” and the upcoming “Honey Badgers.” Earlier this year, Armoza’s head of international sales Sharon Levi joined Yes Studios as managing director.

“We’ve been just talking to Sharon about a whole new slate that we want to work with and in fact approach this business in an even more evolved manner where we get in faster and talk more about development at an early stage where we can do things together and collaborate, co-fund and build out content, because I think what everybody needs is a very distinctive kind of storytelling, distinctive kind of thinking, stories that are unique and local and authentic, but yet universal, and that can travel so that they can both be viewed by wider audiences and also be reimagined for different audiences,” Applause CEO Sameer Nair told Variety.

Levi added: “There’s a lot of uniqueness in the way that Applause do business, their business models, their creativity, the high production value, which, coming from Armoza, I’ve already seen this before in adaptations. And above everything else, it was just a great partnership, we worked really well together creatively, from a business perspective. And it’s not a given – I’ve been doing sales for more than 10 years and I truly appreciate partners that understand creative deal making. And I think with Applause it was as easy for that matter. They know their business very, very well. They know what the viewers in India are appreciating and what they would like to watch. And they’re very creative in their deal making and very passionate.”

“Tanaav” is not a co-production, rather it is a format licence obtained by Applause from Yes. Going forward, the plan is for Yes-Applause co-productions. The companies are looking at a three-pronged approach of originals, including pure fiction and ideas based on true events, format adaptations and book adaptations. Yes Studios is the distribution and co-production arm of Yes, a leading broadcaster and streaming service in Israel, and Levi says that one of the advantages of a co-production is that anything that they are developing, if they are co-producing with a partner, will get a commission and will go on air in that territory.

“It makes sense for us since we’ve had such great experience with Applause to continue that partnership and look at things that we have in development on a wider scale and see how early we can bring Applause into our ideas if they are attractive and make sense,” said Levi. “And then we can also have us doing a local version in Israel and Applause doing a local version in India. We can sell it worldwide, either as tape or format, or both, and split income and both of us can enjoy that and share the IP.”

Meanwhile, though “Fauda” is a hit worldwide, it wasn’t simple to transpose the format to India. “It’s not your obvious format – when you watch the original show, it’s not clear how this can travel. The fact that Applause are able to find the right story that would make sense culturally is a great challenge that they managed to triumph so well,” said Levi.

“Fauda,” created by Lior Raz and Avi Issacharoff, based on their experiences in the Israel defence forces, follows a military commander and his team as they pursue their adversaries and tells the human stories of both sides of the conflict in the region. “Tanaav” tells the story of a covert ops unit and looks at either side of the tensions in the sensitive area that is Kashmir.

” ‘Tanaav’ stays true to the original thought, but is reimagined. Our context is different – Israel and Palestine versus Kashmir – it’s not really an India-Pakistan thing, it’s a Kashmir story, they’re all the same people, it is something what is happening within, not without, it’s not really about cross border terrorism, and it’s taken some deft writing,” said Nair. “Kashmir is quite different. It’s a complex mix of the people, the land, the religion, the state and then the center [central government]. One of the early conversations with Avi and Lior was about that – this is supposed to be a significant show and so hence should be treated like a significant show. And it’s not just another crime action thriller. We’ve tried to do that.” Variety

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