On the occasion of its two-year anniversary, OTT platform SonyLiv recently organised a creator's round table on the topic of ‘Taking Indian Stories to the World’. The panellists included Danish Khan, Head - SonyLiv, Sony Entertainment Television and StudioNext, filmmakers Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, Hansal Mehta, Nikkhil Advani, and actor Rana Daggubati, along with Sameer Nair, CEO of Applause Entertainment.
Speaking about how Indian content can be consumed by the global audience, Khan said that firstly Indian content needs to be marketed at a global level. He said that the technology allows people to consume content for a long period, but the content needs to stay relevant.
He further explained that the first season of ‘Game of Thrones’ was released years ago, however people return to watch the first season. He also said that although the show ‘Scam 1992’ was released by them two years ago, people still continue to watch it.
“We have to be consistent in ensuring that all the good shows are being pushed and marketed worldwide. Marketing in the content business is often ignored but I think it is very important,” said Khan.
Khan further stated that for Indian content to be relevant to a global audience, the players should focus on a younger audience. He spoke about how the early adopters of Korean content, which is immensely popular today, were people between the ages of 14-22.
“Today Korean content is very popular, the audience is young adults. The early success of American content was because of young adults. Hence, a lot of people who are 40-year-old today and are subscribers of OTT content have consumed American content. If we want the American and the Japanese to pay for our content in the next 10-15 years, we have to focus on young adults,”’ he added.
Other panellists spoke about the need for conviction and creativity in stories. Hansal Mehta said the conviction, audacity, uniqueness of narrative and the power of storytelling will take Indian content globally.
Tiwari stated that we must focus on local stories. “We have a country with so many stories at every corner. When we say let us make a story that looks or feels like the West, it’s deception. We live differently and have a different culture. Our on-screen looks are bound to be different. Emotions are the same everywhere and the way it is shown is different. Where there are subtitles and audio options today, we can up our technical skills, stay true and rooted to our essence to make global waves,” she said.
On a similar note, Daggubati said the locality of Indian stories will appeal to a global audience. “This is what appeals to a diverse audience because it is intrinsically us and speaks about our culture as a whole. When we see a ‘Money Heist’ or ‘Squid Games’, we see how Spanish and Korean content has done. We need to tell our stories locally, things that are unique to us and can make the world sit up and take notice. We are representing our culture,” he said.
Advani said, “We have to write with conviction. There is no trick. We must keep working and collaborating and producing authentic stories that will connect somewhere.”
SonyLiv’s future plan
Speaking about their journey Khan stated that initially, before Covid, they had aimed for at least 18 originals across languages. However, that could not happen because of the pandemic.
“On SonyLiv, one of the regrets we have was that although a lot of people came because of shows like ‘Scam 1992’, we have only 27 original shows right now. In the next 2-3 years we have to get a high number of good quality shows.”
The platform has further announced at least 100 originals in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam languages. This includes shows like ‘Scam 2003: The Telgi story’, ‘Rocket Boys 2’, ‘Freedom at Midnight’, among others.