Sunir Kheterpal is a Mechanical Engineering Graduate and an alumnus of the 1997 batch of IIM – Ahmedabad, Asia’s premier business school. In a career spanning a little over 20 years, Sunir has worked across diverse job functions and business divisions in the Banking and Media & Entertainment Industry across London, Hong Kong, Singapore & Mumbai.
Picked up as one of the fourteen Graduates from across the world by Bank of America in 1997 for its Global Training Program, Sunir started his career working in the Global Markets Group at Hong Kong specializing in Technical Analysis & Research covering various Asset Markets for FX Proprietary Trading Desk. In 1999, he moved to Mumbai and worked on the FX & Derivatives Sales Desk as a Technical Analyst to advise Corporate Customers of Bank of America.
In 2000, Sunir joined Rabo India, part of the Netherlands based Rabobank, to set up Research & Knowledge Banking Practice covering the Media & Entertainment (M&E) Sector. Between 2000 and 2004, Sunir worked with the Investment & Corporate Banking Teams at Rabo India on various deals involving Strategic Advisory, M&A, Corporate Finance and Acquisition Finance covering the business segments of Cable TV Distribution, Print Media, TV Broadcasting and Film Exhibition. Sunir moved on from Rabo India in 2004 to set up the M&E Banking Desk as Country Head – M&E Banking Group at YES BANK where he led the build-up of Bank’s M&E business covering Print Media, TV Broadcasting, FM Radio Broadcasting, Film Production & Film Exhibition. He was responsible for research, business development and origination of deals for the M&E sector across corporate and investment banking.
After working for more than eight years in the Banking Industry, Sunir moved on to the M&E Industry in 2006 after Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani (Reliance ADA) Group acquired majority control in Adlabs. At Adlabs, Sunir worked with Mr. Manmohan Shetty (MD – Adlabs) as Chief Operating Officer to set up the Overseas and Domestic Distribution Business while contributing actively in the areas pertaining to Film Acquisitions & Co-Productions. Thereafter, he moved on within the Group to manage Film Co-Productions at Reliance BIG Pictures. During the four years spent with the ADA Group, he supervised distribution & marketing of more than sixty films in the International and Indian Markets with combined outlays exceeding USD 75 mn. Sunir was part of the team which launched the Reliance BIG Entertainment Brand at Cannes in 2008. At BIG Pictures, he also led the structuring and closure of the largest bank financing deal (USD 10 mn) ever executed in India for a single feature film project.
Sunir joined the Hinduja Group as Chief Executive Officer in 2010 to set up IN Entertainment (INE), a Content Development & Production Company, where he produced BILLA2, a Tamil language Prequel to a Blockbuster Gangster Film Franchise. This film, in addition to yielding a ROI in excess of 35% for the Group, set up the entry of the Hinduja Group in the South Indian Film Industry.
An avid researcher and writer on the business of entertainment, Sunir has authored several research documents in collaboration with leading Industry Bodies like the CII, FICCI and the Film & Television Producer’s Guild of India. While at Rabo India, he authored Research Reports in the capacity of Knowledge Partner to FICCI FRAMES 2002 & 2003 on the Structural & Financial Perspectives of the Entertainment Business. In 2005, he authored a Sector Report on the Indian Filmed Entertainment Industry, titled “Bollywood: Emerging Business Trends and Growth Drivers”. This Report was officially released by India’s Information & Broadcasting Minister at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2005. Covered extensively by domestic and international media, this Report became the most quoted reference document by various Indian M&E companies in their capital raising exercises.
In a career spanning over twenty years, Sunir has demonstrated a successful Track Record of Planning and towards the end of 2012, Sunir, backed by equity investment from pedigree financial investors, founded AZURE Entertainment. Owned and promoted by The Three Sisters: Institutional Office (TTSIO), AZURE is a Mumbai based integrated Content Development and Production company. Passionate about storytelling, the Company has a dual approach towards Content Development comprising Acquisition of Foreign Language Remake Rights & Filming Rights to Books and a more organic approach on Original Content Development whereby it focuses on spectacular, big ideas. AZURE has an active and an evolving development slate of 8 to 10 properties at any given time.
AZURE, through experiential learning domiciled in Sunir and his team members, has the ability to identify stories from around the world through foreign feature films, real life events, books and original ideas emanating from writers, develop them, package them to produce, collaborate with third parties, market and distribute them.
It has made films with National Award-Winning Directors like Nishikant Kamat for ROCKY HANDSOME and Tigmanshu Dhulia for the soon to release YAARA. AZURE also has collaborations with Dharma Productions (Karan Johar), Cape of Good Films (Akshay Kumar) for KESARI, a Feature Film based on The Battle of Saragarhi and Red Chillies Entertainment (Shahrukh Khan) for a Feature Film based on OPERATION KHUKRI, Indian Armed Forces’ most successful operation on foreign soil. Both these feature films were developed fully at AZURE.
In October 2017, AZURE announced a coveted two picture deal with Warner Brothers to mark Warner Brothers’ re-entry into local film production in India. The first feature to be remade in the collaboration is based on INFERNAL AFFAIRS, the source material on which Academy Award winning Martin Scorsese’s THE DEPARTED was based. On the anvil is a three-picture co-development deal with another major US Studio where a film each from Mexico, South Korea and France is going to be developed by AZURE. AZURE has also negotiated a co-production deal with another US Studio for developing and creating a Hindi Feature Film based on extreme sports. AZURE also has a co-production deal on a Hindi Feature Film with VIACOM Motion Pictures. It is the only Indian Content Company to have strategic multi picture relationships with FOUR GLOBAL FILM STUDIOS wherein Content Development is being spearheaded by AZURE. All achieved with the underlying passion for Stories and strength of an ability to develop Content.
Apart from the collaboration with the FOUR Global Film Studios, AZURE’s current development slate includes a tie-up with Rodar y Rodar for THE BODY (Spanish), Atresmedia for THE INVISIBLE GUEST (Spanish), a Three Film Remake Deal with Gaumont (French), Quad for HEARTBREAKER (French), Filming Rights to Sophie Kinsella’s global bestseller, CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET? (UK) and Sushant Singh’s MISSION OVERSEAS (India).
The Company has also begun exploring Digital Content Creation starting with Short Form Digital Content through a Series each for TIMES GROUP and DISNEY. Gradually, the Company aspires to move definitively towards creating Large Format Series based on Indian stories for Global OTT Players.
Owing to its strengths domiciled in an ability to identify / source Global Content and develop / pitch the same to acting & directing talent as well as Studios / Other Production Houses, AZURE is able to generate super-normal returns on risky Development Capital while creating a positioning for itself as a Creative Content Company. AZURE is all about STORIES and an underlying Passion for Content Development. This is the crux of AZURE’s Business Model, which has been validated by its collaborative associations with Global and India Content Players.