The stories, the actors, and the streaming platforms — these are the factors that shine bright with the success of a show or a film in the OTT world. Behind the success stories are the content houses, putting all of it together with the necessary vision.
At a time when the OTT wave in India is on an all-time high, there are many production houses that can be credited for establishing the culture of digital entertainment, with the essential emotions, drama, action, and success.
IANS takes a look at some of the major production houses driving change in the narrative of OTTs in India.
Red Chillies Entertainment
Shah Rukh Khan’s company Red Chillies Entertainment is leading the content game in the OTT world. His company struck a long-term deal with the streaming giant Netflix. Under the deal, they worked together on the big-budget web series Bard Of Blood, said to be created at a cost of Rs 50 crore, the zombie thriller Betaal (budget of around Rs 10 crore), and Class of ’83, which was made on a budget of over Rs 20 crore. The global appeal of the streaming world has compelled the superstar to delve into the medium.
“We have always tried to create world-class content and entertainment from India. Netflix has shown that Indian stories have a global audience and we would love to use this platform and its reach to tell more stories,” Shah Rukh said at the time Bard Of Blood was announced.
A big announcement from Red Chillies is likely soon.
Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar’s Excel Entertainment is creating ripples in the OTT space with content like Inside Edge, Mirzapur, and Made In Heaven. Their content streams on Amazon Prime Video as per agreement.
Through the shows, they have created franchises with anticipation running high on the next chapters. Such has been the success rate for Excel that, while the first season of Mirzapur was made on a budget of Rs. 12 crores, post its phenomenal response the budget was increased to Rs 60 crore.
Another instance highlighting the scope of OTT is Inside Edge, which is one of the most expensive web shows made in India. It is believed that the 16 episodes were budgeted at Rs 2 crore per episode, with the marketing budget taking up the overall production budget to over Rs 45 crore.
Spearheaded by Sameer Nair, the content production company from the stable of Aditya Birla Group was revived in 2017 to make content for OTT and has had a successful flight so far. Their model is to create content and license or sell it to video streaming platforms. Along with original content, they navigated the world of content globally to acquire content and make ‘desi’ versions.
Applause has backed projects like Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story, Mayanagri: the City Of Dreams, Hostages, Mind The Malhotras, The Office, Hello Mini, Iru Dhuruvam, Madhuri Talkies, Bhaukaal, Manphodganj Ki Binny, Rasbhari, Your Honor, Hasmukh, Undekhi, Avrodh: The Siege Within, and Criminal Justice, and Criminal Justice: Behind the Closed Doors.
At the moment, shows such as Call My Agent, Fauda, Luther, and Seeker are under development. Their content streams across Disney+ Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Voot, SonyLIV, and MX Player.
According to reports, the cost of producing content per episode ranges from over Rs 60 lakh to over Rs 2 crore. They invested and reinvested around Rs 400 crore over the last three years and now aim to invest up to Rs 4,000 crore in the next three to four years.
Dharma Productions’ digital arm Dharmatic has entered a deal with Netflix to work on a range of films and series for the streaming giant. Karan Johar first collaborated with Netflix on the 2018 anthology film Lust Stories and realized the reach of OTTs. He went on to work on Ghost Stories and Guilty.
According to reports, for a standard Dharma film, the over-the-top (OTT) service reportedly guarantees about Rs 15-18 crore. An unconfirmed report has claimed that Dharma Productions sold the OTT rights of “Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil” for Rs 70 crore. The film was said to be made on the budget of around Rs 25 crore.
Ronnie Screwvala’s film production house RSVP started producing content for the digital arena more than two years ago. The Vicky Kaushal and Angira Dhar-starer Love Per Square Foot was the first film from the production house to take the digital route.
“I think digital is not an alternative to a theater. This platform is an addition, and both can co-exist,” Screwvala told IANS. At that time when direct to OTT release was not a norm. Since then, they have made the popular Lust Stories, Raat Akeli Hai, Ghost Stories, Mismatched, and Paava Kadhaigal. Their content streams on Netflix.
While not much about the deal is out, Screwvala once said in an interview to a portal that the budgets for their projects mostly range from Rs 6-60 crore.
Clean Slate Filmz
Anushka Sharma and her brother Karnesh Ssharma’s production house Clean Slate Filmz had a hit entry into the digital arena with Paatal Lok, which was followed by Bulbbul. Anushka is also backing the upcoming show, Mai. Paatal Lok, which was made on a budget of over Rs 20 crore, is expected to get a second part.
Abundantia Entertainment is also betting big on the digital world. The independent production house backed the 2018 web series Breathe, and is also working on Akshay Kumar’s digital outing The End, which is being touted as Amazon Prime Video’s biggest Indian original series. They have also acquired the rights to Manohar Malgaonkar’s book — The Men Who Killed Gandhi — and plan to adapt the same into a multi-season digital series, for on-demand content platforms.
After entertaining viewers on television, the company is now rolling out content for the digital world and winning viewers. The company’s first digital foray was with the web show “State Of Siege: 26/11”.
With actors Arjun Bijlani, Arjan Bajwa, and Vivek Dahiya playing NSG commandos, the show narrates the untold stories of 26/11. The positive response of their 26/11 saga has prompted the makers to convert “State Of Siege” into a franchise. They will soon be back with the web film, “State Of Siege: Akshardham”.
The content creation platform, known for TV shows like The Kapil Sharma Show and Nach Baliye, has made a move from TV to the digital space. In 2019, they worked on a fashion reality show, produced a web-documentary based on M S Dhoni’s life for Disney+ Hotstar and a fiction show for ZEE5. They also backed Hostages and Shrikant Bashir.
The content house has also tied up with Kamal Haasan to create scripted and non-scripted cross-genre/platform content.
Good Bad Films
After dissolving Phantom Films, filmmaker Anurag Kashyap has launched his new production company, Good Bad Films, and continues to explore the OTT space. For the company, the digital affair started with film Choked.