Netflix is one of the biggest companies out there today. What started as a VHS subscription service is now the biggest online streaming site creating hours of original content.
The company is trying to open new avenues by entering new markets and one such market is India, which undoubtedly has a lot of potential.
The company opened its Indian office quite some time ago, but shied away from airing original Indian series. However, this is going to change next month as first original series from India unveils on Netflix in July.
The series, titled Sacred Games, is based on a 2006 novel by Vikram Chandra. It is a thriller set in Mumbai and focuses mainly on a police officer who gets caught in a big trap.
The series stars Saif Ali Khan, one of Bollywood’s leading men, with other known stars such as Radhika Apte, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Surveen Chawla and Rajshri Deshpande.
While this is going to be the first ever original Indian series on the platform, this isn’t going to be the only Indian content on Netflix as the company has offered several Bollywood movies in the past, and recently premiered an original movie, Love Per Square Foot, earlier this year, which received not so good reviews from critics.
Releasing worldwide on 6 July, the series is said to be available mainly in Hindi but with English subtitles. The eight-part series shows Saif Ali Khan’s character, Sartaj Singh, as a cynical yet seasoned police officer.
The series is mainly his fight against the underworld don, Ganesh Gaitonde, played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui.
It is a dark thriller that will introduce you to the underworld of Mumbai, which is said to be still prevalent there.
Many Bollywood movies have highlighted similar stories in the past, but this series promises to be different. Directed by Vikram Chandra, the series promises to be tight and gripping, however many critics are questioning some of the choices.
Produced under the banner of Phantom Films, the series has a rich look as seen in the recently launched trailer, however critics wonder about the casting of Saif Ali Khan as the main protagonist since the actor has lost his box office pull and many wonder if he will be able to bring Netflix any new subscribers as he is no more relevant with little to no success at box office in the last few years.
Married to Kareena Kapoor, one of the leading ladies of India, Khan was once an A-list star, but soon lost his box office position to younger generation as he continued to star in movies that flopped badly at the box office.
However, Khan has his fans as well who say that he excels in such roles and it is tailor made for him. Khan is als counting on the series to give his career the push that it needs.
Netflix currently has about 4.2 million subscribers in the country, which is quite a big number considering it only launched about 2 years ago, however the problem is that India already has its local subscription services giving Netflix a run for its money.
Netflix’s major competition is ALT Balaji, an Indian streaming service that is part owned by Balaji Group, a production house that has been producing original television content and movies for decades in India and has carved a niche in the country.
But, its biggest competitor is Star India’s Hotstar, with over 63 million subscribers. Netflix’s major problem is that it got a late start in the country. Plus, it did not have any original content to market itself when it came out.
Hotstar launched a few years before Netflix in India, but soon caught up due to its original content that was able to strike the right chord with the audience. In addition to this, Amazon Prime is also trying to cater to the Indian market.
Jessica Lee, one of company’s representatives said, “We don’t have as much regional content as we would like to have. The ambition for us is to keep doubling our content. Since 2016, we have doubled our content library. And if you compare now to 12 months ago, there is a lot more Indian content.”
But, the question is if Netflix is making the right choices in a country where plagiarism is so common. A large population does not want to waste money on subscription services and would rather download movies and shows illegally.
In fact, you can see pirated DVDs being sold openly out on the streets. Other than that, many users also download files and exchange openly with each other with the help of memory cards and memory card readers.
Other than this, the company also often has problem in collecting money due to changes in credit cards. Unlike other businesses, it does not require a card to be studied physically (check here on how it is done), but the information is store on the system, which many users do not update on time, which often causes the company the loss of subscribers.
Everyone is waiting with bated breaths to see how Sacred Games fares among critics and how many new subscribers it can bring to Netflix. This will definitely help the company plan its future in the country.