AJAY DEVGN :
American streaming service Netflix is expanding its aggressive push on local content in India with a new partnership with actor Ajay Devgn’s company Ajay Devgn Ffilms (ADF). The first collaboration of the two will be a feature film titled Tribhanga that will mark the digital debut of Devgn’s actor wife Kajol.
Directed by actor Renuka Shahane, Tribhanga is the story of a dysfunctional family of three women played by Mithila Palkar and Tanvi Azmi, apart from Kajol and will be set in Mumbai, chronicling the tale of three generations from the 1980s to present day. The film that is Devgn’s first digital venture will be co-produced by Deepak Dhar-led Banijay Asia and filmmaker Siddharth P Malhotra’s Alchemy Productions.
“OTT platforms are growing every day, garnering richer content for audiences and are deemed to be the future of entertainment. With a digital platform, there is freedom to tell stories in the most authentic way possible, and the ability to take those stories to an audience that may not necessarily be just in India," Devgn said adding that the digital medium truly represents endless possibilities which his company is excited to explore with Netflix. ADF recognizes that streaming services have enormous storytelling capabilities and is open to working with different services as long as together they make the right team.
“There is no defined long-term partnership yet but we are in talks for other films, some of which of course we would want Ajay himself to star in too, though that is obviously a long way off," said Aashish Singh, director, original films at Netflix.
To be sure, American streaming services like Netflix and arch rival Amazon Prime Video seem to have realized that original content in multiple local languages, including films and serials set in small towns featuring popular local faces, is key to capturing the Indian market.
Netflix’s last two big-ticket shows- crime drama Sacred Games 2 and spy thriller Bard of Blood were co-produced with major movie companies Phantom Films and Red Chillies Entertainment respectively starring names like Saif Ali Khan and Emraan Hashmi.
Netflix has also announced a partnership with Dharmatic Entertainment, the digital content arm of Bollywood filmmaker Karan Johar’s company Dharma Productions for a range of original films and shows. Arch-rival Amazon Prime Video, on the other hand, has long-term deals for feature films produced by Johar and actor Salman Khan. Further, when Hotstar starts to route Disney+ content to India in the months ahead, it will be localized by dubbing or by adding subtitles in Indian languages, including Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. Together, OTT services are slated to invest about Rs. 2,500 crore in original content in India this year, according to an earlier Mint report.
“There is no strategy as such, we just want to work with the best talent in this country and some of them could be big stars who have their own production houses," Singh said. “However, that doesn’t mean we will ignore the small, independent filmmakers who come to us. We want to balance both and stand for good cinema."