Not just Hindi, regional content is a big hit on OTT, too: Actors, filmmakers and experts weigh in
Original series and films in Malayalam, Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali and many other regional languages are gaining immense popularity on the web.Updated: Sep 11, 2020 11:48 IST
While Hindi content is mostly considered to be reigning supreme on OTT platforms, when it comes to original and acquired products, the regional content, too, is not far behind. Original series and films in Malayalam, Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali and many other regional languages are gaining immense popularity on the web. Experts believe that there has been a rise of local regional content production by almost all OTT players, which is actually driven by the need for storytelling and creating customized offerings for the different market segments.“We take a lot of pride in showcasing content which reflects the length and breadth of the country and represents its populations,” says Vijay Subramaniam, Director and Head, Content, Amazon Prime Video.
Talking about the progression with regional content, he adds, “When we first launched, we had just Tamil, Telugu, Marathi and Bengali besides Hindi of course, but then we quickly expanded and added Malayalam, Kananda Guajarati, and Punjabi in the mix.The local flavours have caught the fancy of the audience all over.”
Actor Atul Kulkarni feels that the penetration of the OTT platforms beyond the metro cities is the reason why so much of regional content is on the offering.
“I feel that the tier 2 and 3 cities have seen a massive rise in viewership as far as I know and that is what the growth of regional content can be attributed to. More and more people in smaller cities are watching content online,” Kulkarni opines.Bengali original shows like Byomkesh, Rahasya Romancha, Tansener Tanpura, as well as Azhagu, Settai in Tamil and Tamil-Telugu bilingual show like Nayaki are quite popular. Another reason why that regional content is doing so well is also because the stories are rooted in a particular milieu but they are powerful narratives, which cut across language divide.
Actor Roshan Mathew, who stars in an OTT ORIGINAL Malayalam film C U Soon, says that the quality of regional content has always been superior and he is glad that OTT platforms are taking cognizance of the fact and tapping that space.
“The audience also is now more open to regional content, language is no longer a barrier as it used to be. A lot of lines have blurred. In a lot of ways the OTT platforms are helping as well. They are giving the option to the audience to choose which was not available before and the audience is also lapping it up and hence we see a spurt in regional content on OTT,” says the actor, who was also seen in Anurag Kashyap’s web film Choked.
Curating, supporting and releasing content across languages, Zee5 has emerged as one of the largest players when it comes to original and acquired content in diverse languages.“From Auto Shankar, Danny (Tamil) to Mekasuri, GOD, Amrutham Dhvitheeyam, Chadarangam (Telugu), Sharate Aaj (Bengali), Kaali (Hindi and Bengali), Hutatma, Gondya Ala Re (Marathi), Bhinna (Kannada); we have had representation from Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Kannada. We will continue investing in good content across languages and we have some fantastic content upcoming on the platform as well. Indians beyond the sub-continent, especially non-Hindi speaking markets are amongst our most avid subscribers,” says Aparna Acharekar, Programming Head, ZEE5 India.
There are also production houses which are now moving to assign importance to local language movies.
According to Siddharth Anand Kumar, Vice President - Films & Events at Saregama India Ltd, they’ll focus on regional cinema given the fact that local languages have a wider reach, and interest different cross-section of the audience.
“Regional cinema is also seeing big names investing in it and there is sense of innate pride in putting forth a project of one’s language and culture in the mainstream. Viewers are no longer seen through a sieve of language anymore. All they want is a unique story – one which works at a human level and that they can relate to,” says Kumar.
Yoodlee Films’ released two films previously in the South market — the critically acclaimed Tamil film KD and the Tamil-Malayalam bilingual Abhiyuum Anuvum. Next up, they have Habbadi and Zombivali in Marathi and Super Senior Heroes in Tamil. Zombivali has already garnered much interest when it releases its first look a few weeks back, given that it will be the first Marathi horror comedy featuring zombies.