Last Updated: 11.51 AM, Feb 06, 2023
Banijay Asia, the Indian arm of Paris-headquartered content company Banijay Group, is targeting between 30-35 Indian originals per year. The firm led by Deepak Dhar will release The Night Manager starring Anil Kapoor and Aditya Roy Kapur on Disney+ Hotstar later this month and is especially betting big on the non-fiction genre with adaptations of shows like Monk and Temptation Island lined up. It will also be rebooting the music reality show Pop Stars, first telecast on Channel [V] India in the early 2000s, for younger audiences that will be available both on TV and as catch-up content on OTT.
“The idea is to be an all-rounder and divide our focus equally between fiction and non-fiction. We’re looking at great formats from across the world that can be adapted and mounted with an Indian take and local cast,” Deepak Dhar, chief executive and founder, Banijay Asia told Mint. Dhar said the company ended 2022 on a good note with its thrillers Dahan: Raakan Ka Rahasya and Fall, both on Disney+ Hotstar, the latter a Tamil remake of Canadian series Vertige. Other than The Night Manager, an adaptation of John le Carre’s novel of the same name, Banijay will have legal and political drama The Good Wife starring Kajol, an adaptation of an American series. While Hindi language programming will be its mainstay, Dhar said the firm is increasingly looking at pushing out content in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi and Bengali with different language versions adding to the appeal of adaptations of popular international content.
Remakes and adaptations are an opportunity to bring excellent storylines to Indian audiences even though some of them may have watched the original, widely available on streaming platforms. “Local originals take time to write and develop. It is tighter and easier to adapt,” Dhar pointed out. Currently, the company is following varied business models, either developing projects on its own or onboarding OTT platforms at an early stage as partner.
To be sure, media industry experts say after an initial phase of bullish spending as they looked to consolidate their presence in India, video streaming platforms are slowing investments in the country. In 2022, content spending is said to have dipped by 50% as parent companies of foreign platforms reeled under global recession with subscriber addition in India remaining tepid. Along with issues of copyright infringement, advertising spending slowed, thanks to global inflation that left crypto and tech brands struggling with funds.
That said, Dhar emphasized companies like their have always worked with controlled budgets while adding that the big challenge and opportunity in the Indian OTT ecosystem lies in building a robust talent pool, especially of writers. “A process of rationalization has happened but we’ve always been nimble footed and tight. The big-scale shows will come out once or twice a year and will be outliers, because it takes all kinds of content to bring people to screens,” Dhar said.