Mumbai Netflix has commissioned 10 new original films for India as it seeks to create more relatable entertainment content, according to the company . This is the video streaming service’s largest content announcement in India, one of its fastest-growing markets, since it launched in January 2016.
Netflix has so far released seven films in India over the last three years. They include Love Per Square Foot and Lust Stories. Sacred Games has been the most popular both in India and across the world among the company’s five Indian original shows.
The company has partnered with top directors and producers in Bollywood, including Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment, Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions and Ronnie Screwala’s RSVP for the new movies.
The original films are expected to release between April and December 2020. They include Ghost Stories, which is based on short horror stories. Johar, Zoya Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap and Dibakar Banerjee would direct the film.
Farah Khan is producing Mrs Serial Killer, a murder mystery. Another film, Yeh Ballet, is based on the story of two boys who discover ballet; Sooni Taraporewala will direct the film. Terrie Samundra would direct Kaali Khuhi, which is based on female infanticide.
“We have a rich storytelling culture in India. Our film industry is over 100 years old, and we have made about 45,000 films till now. We are a film hungry audience,’’ said Srishti Behl Arya, Netflix’s director for international original films in India. “Our focus is to follow our creative instinct to bring the best stories from the most interesting storytellers.” Arya, whom Netflix hired in May last year, said it is the concept that dictates the format.
Indians spend the maximum time watching films (not necessarily Indian) on Netflix, the company said in a statement without giving specifics. Netflix original movies like Lust Stories are among some of the most watched films on Netflix in India, the company added.
Close to 70% of Netflix subscribers watch at least one film a week in India, the company said. “The number of films watched per month/per member in India has grown 50% since January 2018,” the company added.
Netflix is estimated to have around three million viewers in India while over 250 million Indians watch video online.As of January, Netflix had 139 million subscribers globally. It expects to add another 8.9 million by March, according to its latest earnings report. Over 73 million Netflix subscribers are outside of the US.
Netflix has so far in India developed measured content relationships, commissioned shows and selectively acquired licensed content. A quick glance through Netflix’s home page shows Indian films and originals in local languages have gained prominence over the last six to months.
Johar said there is a digital revolution taking place in the country. “Digital platforms are being acknowledged and utilised in a way that has never been seen before. These platforms have empowered writers to write better cinema,” said Johar.
His company’s digital content arm Dharmatic will make Guilty for Netflix. “I see Netflix as a long term partner. While the true celebration of a film is when you watch it in a cinema hall, I think both theatres and digital platforms will co-exist in India,” he added.
In February, Netflix won three Academy Awards for Spanish drama Roma and sparked a debate about theatrical distribution versus Netflix.
Actor and producer Anushka Sharma said the streaming platforms have brought the audiences a whole new world of content, subtitled and dubbed, from across the world. “There is variety, quality and depth to entertainment. Audiences have adapted to this change easily,’’ she said
She added while both Indian cinema and TV are grappling to come to terms with the change, it is also compelling to rethink and redo old ways of working. “I do feel there is a place for theatrical and there is a growing relevance for OTT [over the top or digital streaming] platforms,” she said.
Sharma’s production firm, Clean Slate Films, is producing Bulbul for Netflix.
Apr 15, 2019 11:25 IST