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From music to films, T-Sequence performs on

With 40 movies on the flooring and one other 30-35 in varied levels of improvement, the 44-year-old is a person in a rush. His day begins early, as he checks 2am messages from writers and administrators, and ends pretty late. “No one works by the watch at T-Sequence,” says Kumar, throughout a Zoom interview. Within the 21 months since November 2020, when Hindi movies resumed theatrical releases put up the covid-19 pandemic, T-Sequence has had 17 releases in cinemas and one other 10 on streaming platforms. To get a way of how busy T-Sequence has saved itself, evaluate it with an older Bollywood studio like Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions, which launched solely three movies in theatres because the pandemic whereas three have gone to OTT. Yash Raj Movies, one other huge banner, launched 5 movies in cinemas put up the pandemic.

A few of T-Sequence’s productions hit a bullseye. Horror comedy Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, made on a price range of 90 crore, earned over 180 crore in box-office collections—a uncommon worthwhile Hindi movie in latest months. Ek Villain Returns, which launched final month, nearly recovered its funding. Three issues labored for Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 and older successes like Kabir Singh (2019) and Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety (2018)—they have been made at modest budgets, had good music and the suitable advertising and marketing push. Within the subsequent few months, T-Sequence productions equivalent to Thank God (starring Sidharth Malhotra, Ajay Devgn and Rakul Preet Singh), Vikram Vedha (a remake of the Tamil hit by the identical title, starring Saif Ali Khan and Hrithik Roshan) and Rohit Shetty’s Cirkus will hit theatres. There’s extra to comply with—from Adipurush, a multilingual mythological that includes Prabhas, Kartik Aaryan’s Shehzada, a remake of Allu Arjun’s Telugu movie Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo, and director Luv Ranjan’s untitled enterprise with Ranbir Kapoor.

For Bollywood watchers, it’s clear: T-Sequence needs an even bigger slice of the film pie. It’s betting huge on theatrical releases regardless of the uncertainty of the enterprise. It’s churning out the tales. What it’s banking on are the relationships it has nurtured with different studios and filmmakers as a music label, its sturdy advertising and marketing experience and simple money stream. However will that be sufficient? Or is it over-reaching itself at a time when the box-office has proved inconceivable to please? Because the dismal destiny of its movies equivalent to Jhund, Radhe Shyam, Satyameva Jayate 2 and Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui, all launched in theatres quickly after totally different lockdowns, suggests, nobody is immune from the viewers’s rejection.

Authentic soundtrack

“This was by no means pre-planned,” says Kumar. His father Gulshan Kumar had made movies sporadically within the Nineteen Eighties and Nineties, churning out a bunch of musical hits equivalent to Aashiqui and Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahi. In 1997, Gulshan Kumar was shot lifeless outdoors a temple in Mumbai, throwing the household and the enterprise right into a disaster. Kumar, then barely 19, was pressured to take over the reins of the enterprise. Naysayers doubted whether or not T-Sequence would survive with out Gulshan Kumar, the mogul of devotional music. The setback meant a short hiatus from film manufacturing for about 5 years. T-Sequence was again quickly sufficient, in 2000, with Papa The Nice, starring Krishan Kumar, Gulshan’s brother and Bhushan’s uncle.

T-Sequence continued to make a number of movies each couple of years, coming into its personal by the mid-2000s. By 2014, it had a sturdy pipeline of small and mid-budget movies like Akshay Kumar’s Child (2015) and Amitabh Bachchan’s Bhootnath Returns (2014). “We noticed success with totally different movies and constructed relationships with producer and director companions. It gave me the assumption that good companions can collectively do nice work,” he says. Within the years earlier than the pandemic, OTT platforms have been rising as one other vacation spot for T-Sequence content material.

Kumar’s ambitions as a film producer may be rising, however he steers away from debt. “We use 100% of our personal cash, we don’t borrow from the market and we’re not a publicly listed firm. It’s an organization privately owned by the household,” he mentioned. Kumar has spent lavishly—and plans to proceed to—on multilingual motion flicks and interval dramas, particularly these that includes prime southern stars. His mythological drama Adipurush that includes Prabhas is touted to be value over 300 crore. However he mixes that up with small- and mid-budget titles, movies equivalent to Kabir Singh and Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, all made underneath 70 crore.

At T-Sequence, Kumar calls all of the photographs. He sits on script periods in addition to edits, particularly as a result of, he says, this isn’t the time to easily ‘go by branding’. “We are able to’t simply go blindly with out approving the script. As we speak, even huge stars aren’t bringing in huge numbers. I’m not saying that no matter we determine works. However now we have to maintain making an attempt to know the style of the viewers,” he says.

Movie and leisure trade specialists say Kumar has taken his time to know the principles of the sport and use his experience as a music label to ramp up film manufacturing plans. “He was additionally the primary to acknowledge the potential of YouTube as a medium and the worth of proudly owning IPs (mental properties),” mentioned Atul Mohan, editor of commerce journal Full Cinema, referring to the immensely well-liked YouTube channel Kumar has constructed for T-Sequence.

In December 2021, T-Sequence turned the primary channel globally to cross 200 million subscribers on YouTube, with 29 channels throughout languages and genres. The entire subscriber base for the T-Sequence community was estimated to be greater than 383 million with over 718 billion views.

In comparison with the 10-12 crore that a mean well-liked channel could make from YouTube promoting income, T-Sequence is estimated to earn round 125 crore per 30 days, guaranteeing the corporate stays cash-rich. “He brings out a minimal of two new singles each month, plus there are the movie soundtracks that he acquires from different producers. He really comes with enterprise acumen to acknowledge that any channel must be persistently up to date to maintain viewers engaged,” Mohan identified.

The music opened doorways to film success. As Karan Taurani, senior vice-president at Elara Capital Ltd, factors out, a number of leisure trade gamers have realized that the price of buying music by way of movie soundtracks is much too excessive, with out vital returns within the quick time period. That’s the place T-Sequence has an edge. Co-production of movies helps monetization by way of rising income streams equivalent to digital gross sales and abroad launch. “As a worth proposition, music rights solely repay in perpetuity, over a interval of a few years. However, licensing movie rights can repay by way of satellite tv for pc and digital gross sales inside 5 to 10 years,” Taurani says. Having labored with producers and expertise carefully through the years, T-Sequence is one of the best place to faucet into synergies between music possession and movie manufacturing. “They already understand how movies are made and what goes into it. Music is a subset of the bigger filmmaking course of,” Taurani says.

Kumar doesn’t converse of a acutely aware technique for YouTube however believes their long-standing presence within the music market helped ease them into movie manufacturing. “All the pieces was there. I simply needed to take that leap and guarantee actors and administrators have that confidence in us. And I’m very proud of all that we’ve gained now. So many actors recognise that T-Sequence is now a spot to be, jahan se itni filmein ban rahi hain,” Kumar says.

Studios equivalent to YRF (Yash Raj Movies) and Zee Studios have most popular to work backwards—they began as a film studio and have now gone on to working their very own music label. That T-Sequence additionally owns the music of all of the movies they co-produce, plus some others, is a bonus. In comparison with the 150 crore they’d spend per 12 months solely on buying music earlier, T-Sequence is estimated to spend round 500-600 crore on content material creation now, with a number of added streams of income. The corporate nonetheless owns 40-45% share of India’s music market and is the most important label within the nation.

Tremendous Cassettes Industries Pvt. Ltd, or T-Sequence, reported a consolidated revenue of 515 crore for the monetary 12 months ended 31 March 2020, In response to information accessed by enterprise intelligence agency Tofler. Income from operations stood at 1,099 crore. As compared, for an organization like Dharma Productions, working revenues vary between 100 crore and 500 crore for the monetary 12 months ending 31 March 2021, in accordance with Tofler.

The regional push

Shahir Muneer, founder and director at Divo, a Chennai-based music and media firm, mentioned T-Sequence is certainly one of a handful of music corporations to have a presence in each regional market. In 2015, it inked a long-term strategic cope with Lahiri Music, a pacesetter in Tamil and Telugu music, to market tv and audio-visual content material, making all of Lahiri’s complete catalogue out there on T-Sequence’ personal YouTube channel. The regional presence makes co-production of movies in southern languages simpler. T-Sequence backed Saaho (2019), an motion thriller that includes Telugu star Prabhas, which launched in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. Additionally it is producing Adipurush with the actor that can even comply with the multilingual route.

Because it churns out movie after movie, the criticism that T-Sequence is taking over far too many initiatives is inevitable. A number of media and leisure trade specialists level out that an enormous slate doesn’t essentially assure dominance for T-Sequence in India’s cluttered and unsure film market. As their latest flops, together with Anek, HIT: The First Case and the high-budget multilingual Radhe Shyam counsel, amount doesn’t at all times translate into high quality. “They might have green-lit numerous movies however none of them comes with the assure of success. A spate of flops will make the eventual losses equally laborious to cope with,” a media and leisure analyst mentioned, declining to be named.

However Kumar disagrees. “Everybody acknowledges the inventive freedom the administrators and producers working with us get. That’s why main filmmakers like Luv Ranjan, Anurag Basu, Sandeep Vanga Reddy, Om Raut, Nikhil Advani or Anubhav Sinha work with us many times. They aren’t doing a single film outdoors our banner,” Kumar says. He has a degree. Aside from assured money reserves and profitable offers with OTT and tv corporations, filmmakers know that straightforward advertising and marketing and model promotions are a given in terms of T-Sequence, contemplating the corporate’s relationships throughout the radio, print and TV ecosystem.

However the firm’s latest foray into internet originals is a method to hedge its bets and placate buyers, when the theatrical enterprise is unsure, the individual cited above added. So far as internet originals go, Kumar has introduced a biopic on choreographer Saroj Khan and likewise has initiatives with Anubhav Sinha, Luv Ranjan and Aanand L. Rai lined up.

At coronary heart, although, Kumar stays a staunch supporter of the 70mm expertise. “I hope movies begin working in theatres. That’s important. There may be clearly one thing mistaken with what all of us filmmakers are doing if persons are not coming to theatres. So we should rectify that,” he says, referring to the spate of box-office disasters Bollywood has witnessed because the reopening of cinemas.

The second problem is the actor price, he admits. All actors had upped their costs, and fairly so, three years in the past, as a result of OTT platforms have been bringing in huge further cash for producers. However now they need to rationalize their charges and make it work for everyone, Kumar says. “Actors ought to comply with a share in income if the movie works or to a extra rational price total. In any other case film making will probably be very, very tough,” he mentioned.

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