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Exclusive | Influencing the Influencers: Forbes' Gurmeet Singh

Forbes India’s latest issue focuses on the celebrity list where in Shahrukh Khan has topped the inaugural Forbes India Celebrity 100 list, a ranking of India’s biggest entertainers based on their income and popularity.  Salman Khan and MS Dhoni, who closely followed SRK in the ranking, might be more famous, but King Khan landed at No 1 in the Celebrity 100, thanks to his earning power.  By Forbes India estimates Shahrukh earned Rs 202.8 crore, compared to Salman’s Rs 144.2 crore and Dhoni’s Rs 135.16 crore between October 2011 and September 2012.  Akshay Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan are the other two celebrities in the top 5.

To understand the content strategy, Adgully caught up with Gurmeet Singh, CEO, Forbes India.

Speaking about the thought behind bringing out an issue like this, he said, “Forbes has always been about influencing the influencers. If talk about people who influence then celebrities top that influencing list. So we thought of bringing this list out with a thought that it would create an amazing impact.”

Forbes is normally seen being associated with tough business issues and this is completely different going towards entertainment. Singh says, “Not really, Forbes is known for its lists that it has been coming out. This list has been there since 14 years in USA and so we thought of introducing it in India as well.”

“Forbes has certain key things in its DNA which include: entrepreneurs, technology, celebrating capitalism and investments. Entrepreneurs are the crux of the celebrity lists. It’s not about movies and films but all about actual entrepreneurs who have made in the list,” adds Singh.   

Forbes India will be seen coming out with all such initiatives that cater to its DNA. When asked about the content strategy he told us that there is no content strategy as such but they believe in coming out with what they think would influence their readers in some different way always. He says, “We have an edit calendar and unlike any other business magazine we pick up content that is relevant for that particular issue.”

The ranking is a part Forbes India’s special edition that decoded what lies behind the success of India’s biggest creative entrepreneurs. The special edition has features, essays, interviews, infographics and snippets on the various facets of Indian entertainment industry.

“Today, India doesn’t quite have a creative economy that is as big and vibrant as a country of a billion people ought to have. As incomes rise and basic needs get covered, spends on entertainment will sky-rocket, as we’ve seen with IPL cricket. The interplay of technology and new forms of creativity will completely transform the entertainment space over the next decade,” says Forbes India editor Indrajit Gupta.

In terms of marketing, Singh said, “The information has already been covered by major publications and TV channels so media plays a vital role and going forward there would be plans for a grand event on the same.”

The list is an attempt to rank the most powerful and the most popular of the players who are at the centre of this sector. The list ranks celebrities across eight categories – Actors, Sportspersons, TV personalities (Malaika Arora Khan, who earned Rs 5.65 crore), Comedians (Vir Das, Rs 1.6 crore), Directors (Karan Johar Rs 10 crore), Models (Esha Gupta, Rs 93.75 lakh) and Musicians (AR Rahman Rs 32.91 crore).

It was compiled based on a rigorous process that considered their income (from the business of entertainment) and fame (as measured by media mentions, online presence, social media followers)

A majority of celebrities fall in the age bracket of 30 to 50. However, that hasn’t prevented a clutch of 12 youngsters like Saina Nehwal, Virat Kohli, Anusukha Sharma and Sania Mirza from breaking into the top 50. In fact, at age 23, Saina Nehwal is the youngest on the list.

The package includes extensive and insightful reports on lives, though processes and businesses of some of India’s most actors, directors, sportsmen and musicians. The cover story reveals an often neglected aspect of the Bhadshah of Bollywood – as a businessman and investor. Managing one’s life and career is a recurring theme, told from the perspectives of a celebrities such as Salman Khan, Karan Johar, MS Dhoni, Boman Irani, Priyanka Chopra, Anurag Kashyap, Gul Panag , but with lessons for everyone.

While concluding Singh explained his vision for the year 2013, he said, “Hopefully it should be a great year and we should build more profit this year and we would look forward towards strengthening our core properties which include Forbes India’s Rich list, Forbes Leadership awards, Forbes India Million, Forbes India philanthropy awards.”

Singh believes in the true fact that content is the king so the more you focus on it the more readers you would add. “Forbes being one of the premium magazines has huge readership which clearly shows the fact that our focus is clear that is our content is strong and of-course being a part of such an amazing group that is Network 18 has been a bonus for us. So we use our network strengths top promote our content , “he added.  |By Aanchal Kohli[aanchal(@)]


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