Web turns big

Debarati Palit Singh
Friday, 15 December 2017

Popular names from Bollywood are getting associated with Indian web series. The liberty to show diverse content is what attracts them

Popular names from Bollywood are getting associated with Indian web series. The liberty to show diverse content is what attracts them

Indian web series are getting more and more popular which is why some of the biggest names from Bollywood are getting associated with the platform. They are either acting or producing interesting content. 2017 turned out to be an exciting year for web series. Several Bollywood personalities have either starred in them or have produced shows which went live. Many others were announced which will go live next year.

Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani, in association with Amazon Prime Video, launched Inside Edge, a star-studded web series about the functioning of the world of cricket. Vivek Oberoi, Richa Chadha, Angad Bedi, Sayani Gupta starred in the series, which had a successful first season run. Looking at the success of the first season, the makers have now announced the second season.

Shah Rukh Khan’s production house Red Chillies Entertainment has collaborated with Netflix and announced a series based on the book, Bard of Blood. This is SRK’s first step towards the web. Penned by Indian author Bilal Siddiqi’s Bard of Blood will be brought to life as an eight-episode high-octane political espionage thriller series. Set against the backdrop of the Indian subcontinent, the multilingual series will tell the story of an expelled spy, Kabir Anand, who is recalled from his new life as a Shakespeare professor in Panchgani, to save his country and long-lost love.

Filmmaker and actor Vikram Bhatt launched VB on the web, his official web channel. Since then he has launched several shows including Spotlight, Tantra, Hadh, Gehraiyaan and others.

Ekta Kapoor too launched her web channel ALT Balaji. One can watch some content-driven shows like Bose Dead/Alive, Test Case, Karrle Tu Bhi Mohabbat and others here. Rajkummar Rao made his debut on the web with Bose Dead/Alive. He plays the role of Subhash Chandra Bose in the series, which has gone live.

Saif Ali Khan will play the lead in Netflix’s first venture into Indian content production, Sacred Games. Written by Vikram Chandra, Sacred Games is based on a best-selling novel and will be a bilingual series in English and Hindi. The series is going to be a joint production venture, co-produced by Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane and Madhu Mantena of Phantom Films.

Irrfan Khan is teaming up with All India Bakchod, aka AIB, for their next series, The Ministry. The series is the story of a washed-up narcissistic Bollywood actor, who is unwittingly appointed as a placeholder Union Culture Minister. The series will premiere in 2018 on Amazon Prime Video.

After the success of his talk show No 1 Yaari with Rana on Viu, Baahubali actor Rana Daggubati is making his debut in the fictional space with social media thriller Social on the same platform. Stand-up comedian and actor Vir Das is all set to collaborate with director Nikkhil Advani for a web series.

Exploring a new platform

Most Bollywood personalities believe that this new platform is worth exploring. The kind of eyeballs that the web has been grabbing is big and the numbers are growing. In fact, Inside Edge broke multiple records in the first week of its launch as it became the most watched title on Amazon Prime Video.

Vivek Oberoi, who is happy with the response that his character and series received, said, “It’s a new medium for me and an exciting one too. The kind of content you see on the web is mostly targeted towards the young crowd. They are unable to connect with content on television and therefore moving to the web.”

About his show, Farhan said that it’s really about creating content and creating entertainment on a different platform. “So one needs to think differently, also the episodic nature allows you to create things you can’t do in films, so it was a bit of a challenge, because it’s a new format for all of us. Digital is something we enjoy watching, but now that we are getting into creating it, you have to put on a different hat,” he said in a statement, adding that one gets the freedom to create the kind of content one wants to make.

Nitesh Kripalani, head of Amazon India, in a statement, said, “Well, we think it will be the best consumed show, not only on Amazon but also across all video services — that’s the goal. Our expectation is that it will be the first step, the foundation, of changing how creators create content, it’s looking at how you take the current TV series that we have created in India and raising the bar for that, so our goal is that everybody should watch it.”

Saif Ali Khan, on the other hand, believes that content in the digital space is taking over the existing dynamics at a rapid pace. “The crown in the digital empire lies with Netflix, and it’s extremely satisfying to partner and participate in the first original series from India to be showcased on Netflix,” he mentioned in a statement.

During the announcement of Bard of Blood, actor-producer Shah Rukh Khan said that his production house would use the platform to tell more stories. “We have always tried to create world-class content and entertainment from India. Netflix has shown that Indian stories have a global audience and we would love to use this platform and its reach to tell more stories,” he said.

With its growing popularity, more and more big personalities and players are likely to join the medium next year.


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