Herald: NET NEXT—NETFLIX
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NET NEXT—NETFLIX

28 Jul 2018 04:07am IST

Report by
Dibyojyoti Baksi

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28 Jul 2018 04:07am IST

Report by
Dibyojyoti Baksi

Netflix venturing into the Indian film

industry is almost a phenomenon. Netflix credits the audience with enough intelligence to analyse that not all films are made for theatrical release, yet Indian filmmakers have enough potential to offer highly intriguing content to a certain class netizen of India, and maybe, upgrade the rest to it.

Netflix to Indians is not something like a scientist discovering a new planet in the solar system. With steady promotion, it scissors into the psyche of the entertainment consumer, making its way through freebies when we would cut our losses buffering for Indian films, TV-shows in our hand phones through our indigenous availability-Hotstar, at a high data rate.

Hotstar still goes strong with most types cheaply available out of patent; less rushes to novelty. Indians have a taste for content. The Indian film industry identified that and has scrupulously parleyed for a paradigm shift. Many filmmakers have buoyed their career and emerged to be a refined niche that, over the last couple of years, has marvelled the audience with highly engaging content-driven films, while also bailing out the stake holders, making good money with multiplex release.

We too but now have grown an appetite for web-series. Unlike the West, we have very precisely categorised industry – television, films, regional television, regional films, television actors, theatre actors, the premium of all – Bollywood producer, actor and the stars. These mutually exclusive industries have of late started treading into each other’s marque but the bigger and the biggest names have mostly limited themselves to be host or judge of reality TV shows. Indian GEC is still far-fetched for an edgy web-series or regular telefilms made with stars. “National television channels want to appeal to everyone. That means there is no space for anything new and we would have to dumb it down,” Anurag Kashyap told Financial Times.

Here enters Netflix with a bag full of cash to produce and offer original series and movies, in addition to a broad variety of licensed programs. Anurag Kashyap is among the renaissance men, who from the very beginning tried to push the envelope. He co-directed Netflix’s first eight-part, multi-million-dollar India-production ‘Sacred Games’, the subject close to his heart—Mumbai Underworld—based on the novel by Vikram Chandra. He always drilled to the core to bring sex and crime seamlessly in Indian cinema with his unique offerings — ‘Black Friday’ (2007), ‘Dev D’ (2009) and his two-part ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ (2012) among others. It’s no less a swansong for Kashyap as Netflix gave him the budget equal to his nearly 10-year production cost (around Rs 90 crore) of ‘Bombay Velvet’, that (finally) released in May 2015.

Netfilx relieved India from the jittery of arbitrary censorship and mother-care-moral-policing by the board, however leniency the latter appears to have assumed. One filmmaker, Anubhav Sinha whose upcoming film ‘Mulk’ is due in a couple of weeks had told me ‘If stayed true to the rule book of Indian Censorship, none of the films would have ever seen the light of the day,’ sharing the PDF of the preamble over a mail. Netflix checks if you are above 18 while signing up, identifies you are not a child and gives access to all uncensored contents.

Netflix also made a short film about sex, titled ‘Lust Stories’, horror series ‘Ghoul’, and is reportedly turning author Salman Rushdie’s much controversial novel ‘Midnight’s Children’ over transition of India’s independence, into a series. India boasts of 500 million data subscribers and this holy grail is meant for the premier-end customers with a higher subscription rate, no close to its competitor Amazon Prime.

Among many firsts, a type of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) sneaks into the Indian film industry and blows the lid off of the creative liberty after a long haul. Welcome Netflix!

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