Leading TV producer Aaron Kaplan, prominent media investor Jeff Sagansky and Florence Sloan have partnered with principals from Indian digital distribution company FilmKaravan to launch Golden Karavan, a Mumbai-based venture designed to create and finance original high-end TV content over the next five years that targets OTT and digital services including Netflix India and Amazon India.

Tapping into the local creative community, the new company already has two greenlighted series from filmmakers Hansal Mehta and Richie Mehta and 10 others in development.

FilmKaravan, founded by Pooja Kohli and Sanjay Bachani, had been looking to expand beyond distribution into original production, an area overseen by the company’s Apoorva Bakshi. To facilitate that, they sought outside financing.

Sagansky is a local expert having done a lot of business in India. In 2015, Sagansky and his finance partner, fellow industry heavyweight Harry Sloan, invested in and took public on the NASDAQ Videocon d2h, India’s fastest growing satellite provider of pay TV.  That company will merge with DISH TV later in the year to become the largest media company in India.

Former President of CBS Entertainment and former co-president of Sony Pictures Television, Sagansky partnered with producer Florence Sloan (Snowflower and the Secret Fan), who is married to Harry Sloan, in Goldenpeak Productions and the duo teamed with Aaron Kaplan of Kapital Entertainment to invest in Golden Karavan. Kaplan has a longtime close relationship with Sagansky who was his mentor earlier in his career when he was an agent. Kaplan continued to reach out to Sagansky for advise after he made the transition to producer. Sagansky also is on the board of Kaplan’s joint venture with CBS Corp.

The trio are providing an infrastructure and bandwidth and bringing TV business acumen and producing experience to Golden Karavan, which will be a self-financing production company. Kaplan, for whom the financial involvement falls outside of his CBS joint venture, will not be an active producer on Golden Karavan projects though Kapital would produce in the U.S. any formats that come out of the Indian production company. Harry Sloan has no formal involvement in the venture but could provide consulting.

The plan is for Golden Karavan to supply local OTT platforms, which have been experiencing rapid growth amid emerging revolution in mobile and OTT/broadband delivery in India, leading to increased demand for original programming.

“Given the access to broadband that is transforming the Indian media landscape, the timing is ideal to launch Golden Karavan, a studio that will provide provocative and high-end, Indian-themed content,” said Jeff Sagansky upon making the announcement.

Added Aaron Kaplan: “We recognize the opportunity to focus on the underserved Southeast Asian market with amazing storytellers and talent, both in front of and behind the camera, and we couldn’t have stronger partners leading the creative than we do with Apoorva, Pooja and Sanjay.”

Here is Golden Karavan’s initial slate of greenlighted OTT projects:

  • A collaboration with indie filmmaker Hansal Mehta to adapt Ashwin Sanghi’s best-selling book, “The Sialkot Saga.” Mehta’s most recent directorial venture, Omerta, recently premiered during the Toronto International Film Festival.
  • Golden Karavan is also collaborating with award winning Canadian-Indian auteur Richie Mehta on a yet unnamed drama series. He most recently worked on a Google-funded Ridley Scott initiative called “India in a Day.”

“Given our extensive knowledge and distribution experience of the Indian film business, Film Karavan wanted to use that expertise to expand into the TV sector,” said Apoorva Bakshi. “We are hitting the ground running with two series projects greenlit and many others in development.”