Published November 18, 2014
Volume 22, Number 11

Divine Arts Delivers India to the World
Company Provides Digital Distribution and Original Programming
Divine Arts
Manu Kaushish, Founder, Divine Arts

By Zoe Francis

Manu Kaushish’s homesickness as a college student studying abroad led the entrepreneur to found a company that has become the leader in exporting Indian entertainment to America.
The India native came up with the ingenious idea to make Indian music, movies and TV shows available to ex-patriots living in America. He launched his company, Divine Arts, right as this country’s Indian population was exploding and Americans were embracing Indian entertainment.
“It is Life of Pi, Slumdog Millionaire and that Indian guy on Big Bang Theory,” Kaushish said of Indian features popular in America. “A lot of Bollywood movies have done fairly well. It’s these crazy musicals that don’t really make sense, but they’re extremely fun to watch. People are starting to relate to it or just watch it for the amusement value.”
Kaushish is not new to cross-cultural sharing. In the 1960s, his grandfather opened the first big-screen movie theater in the Indian capital of New Delhi. While Indian movies were the theater’s mainstay, his family also imported American films.
“My family started distributing films from Paramount and Universal and MGM in India,” Kaushish recalled. “We still own that theater. It’s a thousand seats with one screen. People love it.”
When Kaushish went to college at Michigan State University, he stocked up on tapes of his favorite Indian shows to remind him of his homeland.
“I was an Indian student in Michigan and there was no access to any kind of content from India,” he said. “When I went to India, I used to record radio shows and listen to them back here so that I could feel connected. I figured other people would want to do that to feel connected.”
It was an idea that stuck with him as he finished his degree in computer science and finance. He ultimately moved to the Bay Area and worked in the tech world before striking out on his own.
Kaushish readily admits he was in the right place at the right time in 2001 when he got the opportunity to import music to America from Saregama, India’s largest and oldest music label.
“They were looking for digital distribution and Real Networks was looking to expand their world distribution,” he recalled. “I said, ‘Hey, what if I set up a company that aggregated the content and formatted the content.’ We basically signed a deal. I was a small distributor that they used to get the deal done.”
That first serendipitous business deal is what launched Divine Arts, a phenomenally successful company that recently has enjoyed 100 percent year-to-year growth.
“It’s been very successful,” he said proudly. “When we moved to Dublin about 10 years ago, the Indian population here was small. People didn’t know much about Bollywood and Indian movies. The Indian population has increased in the Bay Area and as a whole in the United States.”
Americans are also embracing Indian entertainment.
“As that grows, the views to our content are just going to grow over the next few years,” he said. “Right now, it’s just a starting point of a massive Indian content that’s coming to the U.S.”
Divine Arts moved to Hacienda four years ago. It has a staff of a dozen people – software engineers, graphic artists and other tech workers – who diligently convert digital masters into the proper files to fit each specific delivery format, whether that is Hulu, YouTube or Netflix. The media outlets that distribute Divine Arts’ content are almost endless.
“When you go to iTunes and you go to the Indian section, the top albums are powered by us,” Kaushish noted. “Most people don’t even know that the content is distributed through us. “We want people to be able to know and find the content. We’re way in the background.”
Divine Arts is also starting to generate some of its own content, both in Hindi and English languages. Kaushish would ultimately like to compete with media giants like Showtime and Netflix when it comes to generating original programming.
“We are going to keep growing,” he said. “Our aim is to deliver this content to every media service. Right now, we probably cover about 50 percent of the services, so there’s still half left. I knew this was a market that needed to be tapped, but frankly, in the last two years, the growth has been way beyond what we expected.”
Learn more about Divine Arts at divine-arts.com.


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