Viacom18 India Names Ajit Andhare Head of Film Unit

The joint venture of Viacom and Indian group Network18 says he will take over as COO from the outgoing Vikram Malhotra.

NEW DELHI -- Viacom18 Media announced Monday the appointment of Ajit Andhare as COO of its film unit Viacom18 Motion Pictures. Andhare takes over from outgoing COO Vikram Malhotra, who recently announced his resignation to pursue “entrepreneurial interests.” Andhare will report to Viacom18 Media Group CEO Sudhanshu Vats. In addition to spearheading Viacom18's domestic film production activities, Andhare also will lead the unit’s distribution alliance with Paramount Pictures.

Viacom18 Media is a joint venture between Viacom Inc. and leading Indian broadcasting and media conglomerate Network18. Viacom18's businesses include television channels such as flagship Hindi entertainment outlet Colors, MTV India, Vh1 and Nick India.

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Andhare was CEO of content and production outfit Colosceum Media, a venture he founded with Network18's venture capital arm Capital18.

“In Ajit, we’ve found the right leader to drive Viacom18 Motion Pictures to the next level of growth and profitability. His passion for films, coupled with his education and experience across varied fields like engineering, marketing and creative production, give him the edge to build a business that would become a benchmark in the industry,” said Vats.

Added Andhare: “The fundamentals of the motion picture business in India are improving with growth in digital distribution, multiplex screens, emerging digital platforms and, above all, success of high content cinema. It's a great opportunity to lead one of the country's premier studios recognized for its distinguished work in this exciting context.”

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Viacom18 Motion Pictures has had a successful slate over the past two years, including such titles as Gangs of Wasseypur (which premiered at Cannes in 2012), comedy hits Tanu Weds Manu and Pyaar K Punchnama, youth drama Shaitan, hit thriller Kahaani, crime caper Special 26 and Son of Sardaar, among others. The banner's upcoming titles include sports biopic Bhag Milkha Bhag, Madras Café and Boss, among others.

Through its strategic alliance with Paramount Pictures, Viacom18 Motion Pictures has released major Hollywood tentpoles in India such as Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol.