What’s Kwan, the talent agency at the eye of the storm

The Bollywood drug probe has thrown up a host of A-lister names. Amid these names is Kwan, a well-known talent management agency whose employees Karishma Prakash and Jaya Saha have been probed by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB). Jaya Saha’s reported conversation with Rhea Chakraborty and Karishma Prakash’s reported conversation with Deepika Padukone were made public by investigating agencies.

Kwan is a talent management platform that manages leading celebrities, influencers, scriptwriters, sportspersons, directors, producers, composers, comedians, authors, digital stars  across categories including cinema, OTT, television, music, sports, digital as well as regional categories. Brand endorsements, influencer marketing, brand consultancy, and strategic advisory are some of the services it offers.

Also read: Sushant Singh Rajput case: NCB to grill Deepika Padukone in drug probe case today

Kwan was established in 2009 by Anirban Das Blah, along with his brother Indranil Das Blah, Madhu Mantena, Vijay Subramanium and Dhruv Chitgopekar. Anirban Das Blah who was the face of the talent management agency stepped down after he was named in the metoo movement. Hailing from Shillong, Blah was a student of Delhi University’s Kirori Mal College. He headed the North Eastern Students’ Federation of India and was part of AISEC during his college years. Inspired by Jerry Maguire, Blah joined sports event management company Globosport, set up by Mahesh Bhupathi. Aakash Chopra, and then junior tennis players Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza were their first clients. Blah had worked with Jaya Saha at Globosport. She eventually joined Kwan in 2010.

Once he moved his focus to Bollywood, Blah managed to sign Saif Ali Khan and Genelia D’Souza. Khan, however, left in a week of signing them. Blah eventually left Globosport and established Kwan in 2009. By 2018, Kwan had generated more than Rs 3,404 crore in business annually. By then Kwan had signed 115 creative artists and had represented stars in around 50 films in 2017.

In the years since its establishment, Kwan went on to sign big names in the industry including Hrithik Roshan, Ranbir Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor, Kriti Sanon and Deepika Padukone who has been their exclusive client since 2013. Akshay Kumar had signed them to be his brand custodian in 2014. Anurag Kashyap and Phantom Films were also some of their clients.

In 2012, Kwan went on to partner with Los Angeles-based Creative Arts Agency and came to be known as CAA Kwan. In 2016, the partnership ended with the agency buying CAA out for an undisclosed sum.

Also read: ‘No request from Ranveer Singh to be present with Deepika Padukone in interrogation’: NCB

In 2018, Anirban Das Blah was accused of sexually harassing several women, following which the board asked him to step down. His brother Indranil took over the management and Vijay Subramaniam became the CEO. Following this, six more partners were introduced including Jaya Saha, who holds 2 per cent stake in the company. Blah’s stakes were bought out by 10 partners.

Jaya Saha who started working with Sushant Singh Rajput in 2016 landed him six films including the acclaimed Chhichhore. Kedarnath, Sonchiriya, and Drive were some of the other films.

Also read: Bollywood drugs case: Deepika, Sara, Rakul, Shraddha summoned by NCB

After Blah’s exit, CEO Vijay Subramaniam spent the next year getting the agency back on track. In an interview to a daily, Subramaniam thanked his employees for working harder towards the goal and said that they converted the crisis into an opportunity. In 2019, Kwan under Subramaniam launched a dedicated unit for the South Indian entertainment industry in partnership with Rana Daggubati. It has also started a music label with Sony Music, called Big Bang Music. It launched an influencer marketing unit recently and has also been associated with leading global sports franchises including Chelsea FC, FC Barcelona, NBA, IPL etc.

Kwan has offices in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Delhi.

Also read: Sushant Singh Rajput case: Deepika Padukone under NCB lens in drug probe

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