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Business News/ Industry / Streaming platforms tap original hits for regional appeal
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Streaming platforms tap original hits for regional appeal

In markets where the native language is different from the original title, there is a whole new set of audiences that can be tapped into with an already-proven hit

Amazon Prime Video is working on Tamil and Telugu remakes of Hindi web series Panchayat. (Source: Twitter)Premium
Amazon Prime Video is working on Tamil and Telugu remakes of Hindi web series Panchayat. (Source: Twitter)

NEW DELHI : Streaming platforms are leveraging hit web originals to create regional language remakes for OTT and theatrical releases as dubbing and subtitling efforts have not yielded the desired results.

In markets where the native language is different from the original title, there is a whole new set of audiences that can be tapped into with an already-proven hit, industry experts said.

Amazon Prime Video is working on Tamil and Telugu remakes of Hindi web series Panchayat, while Soorarai Pottru, a Tamil movie initially released on the platform, is set for a Hindi theatrical remake starring Akshay Kumar this year. 

Telugu video streaming platform aha has already premiered Tharagathi Gadhi Daati, an official remake of the TVF original FLAMES

“When an IP (intellectual property) demonstrates success in a particular language, the lion’s share of the overall viewership comes from the original language itself," said Vikram Malhotra, founder and chief executive officer at Abundantia Entertainment. His company is backing Sarfira, the Hindi remake of Soorarai Pottru that is slated to arrive in cinemas this June. 

“There is always potential to then remake it in another language and take it to mainstream audiences in those markets given that it is already riding on proven success," he said.

Malhotra said Soorarai Pottru had premiered on Prime Video during the pandemic and despite the popularity and acclaim it found, consumption beyond Tamil and other southern languages, to an extent, remained low. 

The company is constantly on the lookout for its own IPs and external ones that it can take to other languages, given that well-made remakes with cultural nuances work well, he pointed out. 

Case in point is Drishyam, the Malayalam language crime thriller franchise that has worked across Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Sinhala and Mandarin. Ajay Devgn’s latest horror thriller Shaitaan which had crossed the 140 crore mark at the last count, is also a remake of Gujarati film Vash.

To be sure, copyright agreements over content streaming on OTT platforms can differ. Shows classified as originals are produced by a platform with all rights, including whether to remake it, resting with the service. 

However, several other titles, including movies, may be bought only for a certain period with IPR still in the hands of producers.

 “For any content, even if subtitles or dubbed versions are available, there is a difference when it is made in a different language, with a new script and a fresh set-up," said Charles George, media and entertainment industry consultant and former head of Neestream OTT platform. 

"In the case of a story set in Kerala, the full impact of certain dialogues or scenes may not be conveyed to or enjoyed by the Hindi-speaking audience, given that they do not know the language like native speakers. India is a multi-cultural country and that is the major reason for the remake of such content, be it for theatrical or OTT release.

In 2021, Neestream released the controversial Malayalam language drama The Great Indian Kitchen which was remade in Tamil in 2023. A Hindi remake of the movie is also in the works.

Essentially, all digital players are trying to use the same formula as television, which has seen success with regional language versions of hit shows, said Anuj Gandhi, media analyst and founder of Plug and Play Entertainment, a media tech startup.

“Dubbed versions may work in metros but there is now a need to go to tier-two and three markets, especially with paid subscriptions having hit a glass ceiling," Gandhi explained.

Given the high costs of production of new content, remaking original web shows is one way to work in a financially controlled manner to expand audience reach, he added.

 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lata Jha
Lata writes about the media and entertainment industry for Mint, focusing on everything from traditional film and TV to newer areas like video and audio streaming, including the business and regulatory aspects of both. She loves movies and spends a lot of her free time in theatres, which makes her job both fun and a bit of a challenge given that entertainment news often just talks about the glamorous side of things. Lata, on the other hand, tries to find and report on themes and trends in the entertainment world that most people don't notice, even though a lot of people in her country are really into movies. She’s a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.
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Published: 03 Apr 2024, 02:38 PM IST
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