Indian history is slowly catching up on the web
A good story has eternal appeal. Be it a slice of history we’ve grown up on or an incident from the not-too-distant past, a fascinating tale always captures attention, especially when brought alive on the screen. And now, after cinema and television, the country’s rich history has woven its way to the web, taking the newer platform by storm.
Several OTT platforms are coming up with historical shows such as Moghuls, on the Mughal empire and Barefoot 11 based on a true pre-Partition incident. Besides, Hutatma, on the agitation that led to the formation of Maharashtra, and Bose: Dead/Alive, on Subhas Chandra Bose, are looking at second seasons. And the digital medium has its share of films too, such as Lal Bahadur Shastri’s Death: An Unfinished Story and Khaar, a docu-drama on the iconic Dandi March.
“This generation is smitten by the ’70s and ’80s. What happened during that time is just in textbooks. So, when they get to see it on screen, they love the experience,” says actor Anjali Patil, who plays a pivotal role in Hutatma.
Dia Mirza feels such human stories connect more with audiences. The actor, who soon starts prepping for Moghuls (to be aired on Hotstar), adds, “Real-life stories about religion, culture, boundaries, identities... have a pool. It could be history or something contemporary or futuristic, people will like to watch it.”
For instance, there’s also M.O.M. - Mission Over Mars (that will air on ALTBalaji) about four women scientists who overcame several hurdles to etch their names in history with the successful launch of the Mars Orbiter Mission in 2013, and an untitled show on the rescue of Indian civilians in Yemen the same year. According to Vinay Waikul, director of M.O.M, historical shows get into “different subplots and bring them to life in its glory” making it a rich experience for audiences.
Anjali cautions that one can’t go wrong with the representation or viewers will immediately reject it. Vinay agrees making such shows is tricky. “You’re making a show on events, which happened in the past and characters that dealt with a real-life situation, so that can’t be compromised. Also, its dramatic value has to be maintained for audiences to enjoy the experience,” he adds.
Manish Aggarwal, business head, ZEE5, explains, “Our audiences resonate with period dramas and documentaries. We saw this with Khaar and Lal Bahadur… Hutatma got a great response across demographics and geographies. Historical stories are timeless, the youth are also unaware of them.”
Not just audiences, even actors are hooked. Sumeet Vyas, who played advocate Ram Jethmalani in The Verdict, a web show based on the Nanavati case, says he now wants to be part of a show that highlights “the politics behind Partition”. “If one has the guts to make it, I’d love to be in it. I always wanted to play [Jawaharlal] Nehru,” he adds.
Author tweets @Shreya_MJ
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