Streaming platforms to splurge on period dramas

NEW DELHI: Video streaming services spend a lot of money to acquire and develop historical shows which could cost them 20-30% more than contemporary stories. Applause Entertainment, which has yet to announce the platform it is creating the show for, is making a multi-season series about Gandhi after buying the rights to two books on the subject. SonyLIV which has seen excellent traction for Rocket Boys, a biographical series about Homi J. Bhabha and Vikram Sarabhai, is now planning a second installment. He is also creating shows from other historical tales. A show about Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh founder KB Hegdewar is in the works, while Netflix’s feature film adaptation on The Archies, directed by Zoya Akhtar, will be set in 1960s India. Stream service executives said such stories bring more mature audiences to the platform, a category they need to lean on, the pandemic having brought older and family viewers into the OTT fold.

“Although young people were the early adopters of digital content, the average Indian viewer age of SVoD (subscription video on demand) has now increased, with many older people discovering the access and variety of OTTs during the lockdown. And people who can currently afford OTT subscriptions like brain content and deeper stories,” said Ashish Golwalkar, Content Manager, Sony LIV and Sony Entertainment TV at Sony Pictures Networks India. is committed to telling stories of India, Golwalkar said, through book adaptations and accounts of characters who helped shape the country.

The appeal of period dramas and tales transcends age, gender and preference, said Deepak Segal, Chief Creative Officer, Applause Entertainment. “It’s because history is an interesting subject for a wide audience and age is just a number. It’s important for us to know how we got here and what happened. in the past to give rise to such great stories,” Segal added.

The investment for period pieces is significantly higher than stories set in the contemporary medium, said Laura Mishra, associate producer, Locomotive Global Media, a production house working on web originals that is developing a show on the emerging Indian television industry in the 1990s. To maintain the authenticity of a vintage piece, production must be thorough with research to ensure historical accuracy. Also, the right writer and director is key to making a good, effective and commercially successful period piece,” Mishra said.

About 70-80% of the total budget for period shows is spent on art direction and production design, including sets and costumes, said Akshay Bardapurkar, founder of OTT platform Planet Marathi.

Certainly, market research shows that there is a trend and interest in period-specific content across borders. movies like The imitation game, Sardar Uddham, Gangubai Kathiawadi and show as Peaky Blinders, The Crown, and Bridgerton broke down language and cultural barriers and were enjoyed by people of all nationalities, Mishra said.

“Period dramas are a time-tested method, known for their success. Trends come and go, but vintage never goes out of style, so stories set in a different time period always retain a certain appeal. With a world ever-changing, it’s reassuring for young audiences to see a rose-tinted, highly romanticized version of another era, and it also gives them a window to experience a whole other time period and imagine themselves in that span,” said Hima Bulusu, Associate Director, Key Accounts at digital agency TheSmallBigIdea.

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