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NEW DELHI: Popular films made for over-the-top (OTT) video streaming platforms are being remade in different languages or are inspiring sequels, many of which are slated for theatrical release. South Indian language movies Home and Soorarai Pottru, both released on Amazon Prime Video, have been picked up by Abundantia Entertainment for Hindi remakes.

Malayalam film The Great Indian Kitchen is ready with a Tamil version. Action drama Khuda Haafiz starring Vidyut Jammwal that streamed on Disney+ Hotstar also has a sequel in the works. While content creators emphasize on the wide reach of these platforms and the potential to enhance appeal in a new language, critics point to the continuing dependence of the Hindi film industry on southern stories, given the lack of originality in the north.

“The trend underpins the fact that stories can find an audience irrespective of platform, and the creative strategy of a company like ours anyway is to be screen-agnostic," Vikram Malhotra, founder and CEO of Abundantia Entertainment said. The wide reach of streaming platforms, besides the connect and impact of these stories, gives creators the confidence to take them forward in a different language or to a new distribution medium, Malhotra said. The seamless transition of stories in the coming years can happen not only between movie and web screens but extend to comic books and gaming as well, he added.

Charles George, head of Malayalam-focused OTT service Neestream, that had first streamed The Great Indian Kitchen, said good cinema has always been chosen for remakes and any film will appeal to audiences if it connects with them, even if it is available in another language on a streaming platform.

“We are a nation of 121 languages and 270 mother tongues. Each language has its own set of dialects too. Apart from Mumbai and the Hindi belt, most other states in India like to hear a story in their own language. Songs are a great appeal factor too," said Arunabh Kumar, founder, The Viral Fever whose original FLAMES will see a Telugu language remake by OTT platform aha Video.

"When you remake a film, and a regional viewer listens to the songs he liked and appreciated in Hindi, in his own language, it adds that much more emotional value for him and therefore appeal to the remade film," he said.

Kumar said a few other platforms have also reached out to TVF for adaptations. “Many Hindi films that were box office successes have been remade in Tamil, Bengali, Marathi and Telugu. For example, Jab We Met was a box office success in 2007 and the producers saw it to be lucrative to remake it in Tamil (Kanden Kadhalai) in 2009. Remaking OTT releases stems from this same trend," Kumar pointed out.

A film producer said that filmmakers in the Hindi industry are unsure of what may draw audiences to theatres in the coming months, given the underwhelming response to recent offerings like ’83 that was expected to do extraordinarily well but managed little connect. “At least with remakes of successful southern films, they feel a little secure (since these films have already worked)," the person said, declining to be named.

To be sure, most producers wishing to remake direct-to-digital films have partnered with producers of the original. As far as rights to the streamed films go, Chandrashekhar Mantha, partner at Deloitte pointed out that there may be different models of structuring contracts between OTT platforms and film producers, some may be limited to the concept or script of the individual film or remain exclusive to the service only for a particular period of time.

“Other than direct remakes or adaptations, web originals may also see spin-offs and prequels," Mantha said referring to Loki, the Disney+ Hotstar original, events in which take place after Marvel’s superhero flick Avengers: Endgame. On the other hand, Bob Biswas starring Abhishek Bachchan, that streamed on ZEE5 this December, follows the character of a contract killer from 2012 thriller Kahaani.

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