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Home / World Cinema / As streaming platform MUBI grows, can it stay true to its roots?

As streaming platform MUBI grows, can it stay true to its roots?

The streaming platform, which was set up in 2007 promises a line-up of movies that you might not have heard of but definitely ought to watch. These could be classic arthouse or a new documentary, a short film or a feature from anywhere in the world.

world-cinema Updated: Dec 14, 2019 20:12 IST
Aishwarya Iyer
Aishwarya Iyer
Hindustan Times
Shabana Azmi and Anupam Kher’s
Shabana Azmi and Anupam Kher’s
         

Alongside classics from France, China and Brazil, there’s now Ketan Mehta’s Mirch Masala, Mrinal Sen’s Ek Din Achanak, Dilip Chitre’s Godam and Vijaya Mehta’s Pestonjee on offer on the streaming platform MUBI, a month after its launch in India on November 16.

PLAYING THE NUMBERS GAME
  • MUBI was set up to showcase old, rare, arthouse and documentary films that you “absolutely, definitely, need to have seen” but probably don’t have access to, in the words of its founder, Efe Çakarel.
  • As its subscriber base has grown, its movies have begun to go more mainstream. Today, you can look forward to The Lighthouse, but can also watch John Wick or The Imitation Game .
  • In India, the platform says it plans to draw from local film festivals, showcase a cross-section of cinema, especially from southern India.

MUBI was set up in 2007 not so much to compete with Netflix, Amazon Prime and the rest, as to offer the viewer movies the others just didn’t. It was pitched as a platform for the true cinephile. Every day, the promise was, they would add another movie that you might not have heard of but definitely ought to watch. And every day, one movie from the line-up would be removed. These could be classic arthouse or a new documentary, a short film or a feature from anywhere in the world.

MUBI now has an estimated 9 million subscribers around the world, and as their base grows, it will be interesting to see whether they abandon their original mission in favour of movies that generate more hits. Already, for instance, they’ve added John Wick, and 12 Years A Slave — not just the kind of thing Amazon and Netflix carry, but movies that are already on those streaming services.

LOCAL COLOUR

The MUBI team’s selections are guided by local culture, “and we work with content partners and filmmakers to secure the films that we think our members would want to watch. We also attend festivals around the world to discover new talent and will start attending more in India in 2020,” says Efe Cakarel, founder and CEO.

Mubi India is also planning to include more regional films, particularly from southern India, and feature more recent releases and rising talent, Cakarel says.

“We’re expanding MUBI’s production arm to India and have started reviewing scripts from filmmakers across the region. This is progressing much faster than I anticipated,” he adds.

In India, the platform is operating in a tie-up with PVR to give subscribers complimentary tickets to one movie every week. The initiative was launched on November 27, with Knives Out — a whodunit starring Chris Evans and Daniel Craig — as their first pick. Hotel Mumbai was their second.

“Our collaboration with MUBI will help us expose more moviegoers to niche films and increase their theatrical success,” says Kamal Gianchandani, CEO of PVR Pictures.