Is there space for Konkani on online streaming channels?
Online streaming channels like Netflix and Amazon are providing quick, quality content that reaches a wider audience. Goans too have got hooked on to this new addiction and many are also part of various documentaries and short films. Can these channels give Konkani a new life online?
As the world is available on a click of a button, so is great viewing content. From web series, short films, documentaries and feature length films, online streaming channels are providing the best of the art world for any viewing device. Netflix will be releasing ‘Typewriter’, a Netflix original series directed by Sujay Ghosh, on July 19, 2019. The series will be bringing back the magic of the ‘Nachom-ia Kumpasar’ duo, Palomi Ghosh and Goa’s very own Meenacshi Martins. The horror thriller is set in Goa and was shot in Goa as well as in Film City, Mumbai. The cast also features Purab Kohli, Sameer Kochhar, Aarna Sharma, Mikhail Gandhi, Palash Kamble and Aaryansh Malviya.
Previously, Meenacshi had also played a small role in the web series ‘Four More Shots Please’, an Amazon Prime original series and its season 2 will be coming out soon. “That was a very short role of two episodes, shot over two days in Goa. ‘Typewriter’ is a new web series, where I got a slightly bigger role; my greatest joy was that I was getting to work with Sujoy Ghosh, an acclaimed director, and Palomi, a colleague and a wonderful person. We became very close while shooting ‘Nachom-ia Kumpasar’ and she visits me whenever she is here and she still calls me ‘Mai’. It was an opportunity I couldn’t give up. I got selected for an audition and they wanted a Goan Catholic character,” says Meenacshi. Speaking about her experience with one of the giant online streaming channels, Netflix, Meenacshi says, “‘Typewriter’ was a welcoming experience with an international audience. The whole team was very professional and highly educated, from various film making schools. The whole unit of Netflix was supervising the production. You get a different feel when you are working with a large company. They were discussing stories and ideas and it was a very nice experience. They gave me respect and my own vanity van. An artiste has to be respected if you want to perform well.” While these channels are open to new content, what are the chances of Konkani as a regional language making it to online streaming? “I have submitted one project but now they have made some particular company in charge of meting out the projects. They have asked me to rewrite it as that is how the process goes on. They take your concepts and put on their own writers and screenplay writers and it goes on a different level. They want good products so if someone has one, they will accept it. Netflix has movies from all over the world. I am watching a Welsh TV series, ‘Hinterland’, which was shot in Welsh and was made into English and brought onto Netflix. People get a wider exposure to other cultures and I like watching this particular serial because I will never travel to Wales. They would welcome something from Goa with a different story. But we need to have good writers. I am making an attempt; I am not a trained writer so it may take a few years for us to get through. Somebody has already liked the concept and that is why I am rewriting the whole thing.” Agnelo Wayn Rodrigues’s documentary, ‘The Portrait of a Goan Collector’, is the first Goa centric film on Amazon Prime. The 13-minute documentary is based on the life of Victor Hugo Gomes, the curator of Goa Chitra and Goa Chakra in Benaulim. Based in Dubai, Agnelo’s aim was to tell his story through his filmmaking skills. “I met Victor in 2016 and he struck me as a man with an interesting story. In October 2018, I filmed him for two days and edited the same footage for two months. Victor is this unstoppable force on the preservation of Goa,” says Agnelo, whose film is selected for six film festivals across the globe – Berlin, San Francisco, Dubai, Amsterdam and the 13th Annual San Francisco Frozen Film Festival from July 17-21, 2019. A user of Amazon Prime, Agnelo found it a great platform to showcase his work. “Amazon Prime was accessible to small producers like myself so thought I give it a try. It helps studios, distributors and independent budding filmmakers to reach audiences worldwide. Films are submitted to them either directly or through their distributors. They need to clear certain criteria in terms of visual quality to certain technical requirements. Amazon decides the content on their platform. The film is currently approved for UK and US audience,” he says. Siddesh Naik was a student of Whistling Woods International and has worked as scriptwriter for Konkani films like ‘Juze’ and ‘One Last Time’. Explaining the advantages of having your content on these streaming channels, Siddesh says, “Netflix and Amazon Prime are platforms for good content and even I watch content of various languages. It reaches a wider audience sitting at home and you don’t need to spend money on promotion and distribution, theatre expense, etc. Lately, it’s quite a pride to have your content on such platforms. Also, you get your returns, not full recovery at times, but it gives you a recovery at once and without the efforts to supervise your film after release.” However, the catch is that your content, no matter the language, should stand out. “Netflix or Amazon Prime also has to accept the content, and if they do, their deal package should be satisfying for the producer. If we have good content and if we get good returns in terms of the deal we crack with them, then of course it’s a good step forward. There are enough stories set in Goa that one can watch on Netflix or Amazon Prime but I don’t think there is any content by a Goan maker entirely.”
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