Zee Entertainment's OTT platform, ZEE5, is looking at positioning itself globally as a South Asian content platform that would offer not just Indian but also Pakistani and Bangladeshi content. The entertainment network's erstwhile television channel, Zindagi, was relaunched last year as a digital offering within ZEE5. Zindagi, which was known for its Pakistani content, had gone off air in 2017 post the surgical strikes.
The new avatar of Zindagi not just has acquired content from the subcontinent, but also original shows produced in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Shailaja Kejriwal, Chief Creative Officer (Special Projects), ZEE Entertainment, calls it an effort to be an inclusive content creator, which according to her would reap fruits in the long run. Zindagi would produce 6-7 original shows every year and a large part would consist of content from neighbouring countries.
However, considering the volatile Indo-Pak relations, isn't it risky to have a content strategy that would have a fair bit of Pakistani content? Kejriwal says that though the risks are obvious, a diverse content strategy is the need of the hour.
"I could have always launched another me-too Hindi GEC flooded with saas-bahu sagas but the question is would that be good for the business in the long-run? If we don't think language over geography, we are never going to expand, and that will not be good for the business," she explains.
Kejriwal believes that Indian content is becoming increasingly unidimensional and non-inclusive which isn't healthy for the business at large. She says that the content on Zindagi transcends political barriers and shows a completely different picture of the subcontinent. "After Zindagi went off air, Amazon, Netflix and lot of other platforms aired that content. I think more and more platforms should have diverse content, so that as an industry we become more wider."
Creating content that would appeal to a global audience is a strategy that has been adopted by Hollywood too, points out Kejriwal. "Why does Hollywood cast Indians, or Chinese in their films? They do it because it is better for their business. If you cast Priyanka Chopra in Quantico, you have the potential of attracting 1.3 billion eyeballs," she further explains.
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