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Netflix unveils its India line-up, announces eight new features

twitter-logoPTI | November 9, 2018 | Updated 18:54 IST

By Ravi Bansal Singapore, Nov 9 (PTI) In a major effort to ramp up its Indian original content, streaming giant Netflix on Friday announced a new line-up of eight films and an original series. With this, Netflix has made its intention clear to emerge as a leading content provider to its ever-growing consumer base in India. The move is aimed at countering Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video and local subscription players such as ALT Balaji and ZEE5. It also implies that the streaming giant, which does not reveals its viewership number, considers India and the Asia Pacific region pivotal for the growth of its subscription base. "We celebrate India with an incredible line-up of original films and series that are right now filming across India. This line-up cuts across genres from horror to fantasy and in locations from Leh to Mumbai. The breadth of stories with its local settings and complex characters is incredible and we can’t wait for people to discover and fall in love with them,” said Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer for Netflix. The streaming platform’s India slate was unveiled by Simran Sethi, Director, International Originals and Swati Shetty, Director, International Originals and Acquisitions, at the See What’s Next Asia event here. “Right now we are filming six diverse series all over India. From the stunning mountain passes of Leh to lush and green Kerala,” Sethi said. "Kahaani" director Sujoy Ghosh is headed to the digital medium with his new Netflix series "Typewriter". The supernatural drama series is set in Goa and revolves around a haunted house and a group of young, wannabe ghost hunters. During the event, a teaser of Shah Rukh Khan-backed “Bard of Blood” was also showcased. The series, featuring Emraan Hashmi in the lead, is an espionage thriller, based on a book by Bilal Siddiqi. Shah Rukh, who is producing the project through his company Red Chillies Entertainment, in a video message informed the audience that the show is running behind the schedule. The streaming giant also gave a glimpse of its another Indian original, “Selection Day”. The series is based on Aravind Adiga’s novel of the same and features actors Ratna Pathak Shah, Mahesh Manjrekar and Rajesh Tailang, among others. The coming-of-age drama is about two brothers who are raised by their cricket obsessed father, whose dream is to see them as top Indian players. The cast of Netflix’s two originals – “Baahubali: Before the Beginning” and “Leila” – was also unveiled during the event. “Baahubali: Before the Beginning”, being developed by Deva Katta and Praveen Sataru, will feature Mrunal Thakur as Sivagami, Rahul Bose as Skandadasa, Atul Kulkarni, Vaquar Shaikh, Jameel Khan, Siddharth Arora and Anup Soni. "The story backtracks about 50 years from the beginning of Baahubali story. The movie was a singular emotion and singular conflict, now we are exploring lot deeper into the characters with a lot of spectral characters and in a more epic way of storytelling in the Mahishmati world. You will also get deeper into the street level life and multi-layer life in the kingdom,” Deva Katta said at a panel discussion. Deepa Mehta’s dystopia-set miniseries “Leila” will feature Huma Qureshi in the title role and Siddharth Suryanarayan. The show is based on Prayaag Akbar’s novel of the same name. With films like “Lust Stories” and “Love Per Square Feet” doing incredibly well on the platform, Netflix went ahead and acquired as well as commissioned a total of eight new features. “The success and excitement around these films in India and world over gave us the confidence to dive in and engage wide range of filmmakers in India and across the world,” Swati Shetty said. In addition to Leena Yadav’s “Rajma Chawal”, three new projects -- Priyanka Chopra's “Firebrand”, “15 August” and “Music Teacher” -- will soon be available on Netflix. Set in a Mumbai chawl, “15th August”, produced by actor Madhuri Dixit, follows the course of a single day as its residents prepare for the flag-hoisting ceremony. “Music Teacher”, starring Manav Kaul, Divya Dutta and Neena Gupta, is a story about an emotionally troubled music teacher who gets a chance to come to terms with his bitterness with an estranged student, now a renowned celebrity singer of Bollywood. The film is directed by Sarthak Dasgupta. A brand new trailer of Yadav’s “Rajma Chawal”, featuring Rishi Kapoor, Amyra Dastur and Aparshakti Khurrana, was also unveiled at the event. The film, a humorous family drama set in Chandni Chowk, will release globally on Netflix on November 30. “When we were initially approached by Netflix to acquire the film, I thought I need closure as a filmmaker if my film does not make it to the theatres because that’s for me is the journey. So I was resistant. Then my husband, Aseem Yadav, told me that the film will live if it’s on Netflix,” Yadav said at a discussion here. The company also announced that it has commissioned four new film originals. It includes “Chopsticks”, “Bulbul”, “Upstarts” and “Cobalt Blue”. Abhay Deol and Mithila Palkar-starrer “Chopsticks” will be directed by Sachin Yardi and is about an under-confident but talented girl, sidestepped at every stage of her life, who seeks out an enigmatic con to help recover her stolen car from a goat-loving, crazy Mumbai gangster. In the process, she finds her confidence and place in the sun. “Bulbul”, produced by Anushka Sharma via her Clean Slate Films, will explore themes of superstition, horror. Udai Singh Pawar’s “Upstarts” is a bromance about three college graduates from small-town India, captivated by the startup mania sweeping the country. As they enter the rollercoaster startup ecosystem of big dreams, big money and bigger sharks, they are faced with a big choice - their dreams, or their friendship. “Cobalt Blue”, written and directed by Sachin Kundalkar, is based on the best-selling novel of the same name, the movie tells the story of a brother and sister who fall in love with the same man, and how a traditional Marathi family is shattered by the ensuing events. The streaming giant also announced that Dev Patel and Armie Hammer-starrer “Hotel Mumbai” will be coming on its platform mid 2019. PTI RB BK BK

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