Vikram Chandra’s Sacred Games is just the beginning. You can expect to soon see content in Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil and Gujarati on Netflix.
For starters, Hindi and Marathi will feature in Sacred Games — which was announced this week as Netflix’s first original series in India, a market it entered six months ago.
The source novel is set in 1990s Mumbai, and paints a layered, moving and unerringly authentic portrait of the city’s underbelly at a time when that term still meant shootouts in the street and fugitives hiding in alleyways.
The show, being produced in collaboration with Anurag Kashyap’s Phantom Films, will seek to recreate the local flavour, suspense and drama of Vikram Chandra’s 900-plus-page magnum opus, with its gangsters, cops, starlets and corrupt politicians.
“Great stories like Sacred Games transcend borders,” says Jessica Lee, Netflix’s director of communications for Asia. “Netflix is all about bringing such great stories to a global platform. We are already on the lookout for new and compelling stories from India. We are looking at creating local titles and pursuing quality Bollywood titles, notable indie films and the best of regional cinema — whether Tamil, Gujarati, Punjabi or Marathi — for the Indian audience. Ultimately, Indian cinema will not only be for India but will be available to over 81 million Netflix members across 190 countries.”
Just around the corner, on July 7, Brahman Naman, a coming-of-age comedy by Indian director Q, will be available globally on Netflix. As will Kashyap’s Raman Raghav 2.0, which premiered at the Cannes film festival this year.
“We may be different culturally but we all seem to love a great story. We saw this with Narcos, which was 75% Spanish and told the tale of the daring Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, and with the docu-series Making a Murderer, about a murder in a small Wisconsin town no one’s heard of. Both ranked among the top 10 most viewed content in nearly all of our markets where they became available,” says Lee. “So we look for talented storytellers with a strong track record who have stories they are passionate about telling.”
The partnerships are crucial too. Phantom will help recreate Chandra’s novel onscreen in part because Anurag Kashyap has a history of rendering the underworld in films such as Black Friday, the Gangs of Wasseypur movies, and the upcoming Udta Punjab.
Growth in original series continues to expand, added a Netflix spokesperson. “We released nearly 450 hours of global original content in 2015 and are planning over 600 hours in 2016.”