Streaming platform Netflix on Thursday unveiled a lineup of 17 original stories, including Bollywood titles "Ludo", "Torbaaz", and Mira Nair's ambitious series adaptation of "A Suitable Boy".
"Ludo", directed by Anurag Basu, is a multi-starrer comedy drama featuring Abhishek Bachchan, Rajkummar Rao, Aditya Roy Kapur, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Sanya Malhotra, Pankaj Tripathi and Pearle Maaney, while "Torbaaz", starring Sanjay Dutt, is an emotional story of transformation.
"A Suitable Boy", based on the critically acclaimed novel by Vikram Seth, and starring Ishaan Khatter, Tabu, Tanya Maniktala, Rasika Dugal, Shahana Goswami and Ram Kapoor, will be available on Netflix globally, except in the United States and Canada.
Crime thriller "Raat Akeli Hai", featuring Radhika Apte and Nawazuddin Siddiqui; comedy satire "Dolly Kitty Aur Who Chamakte Sitare", starring Konkona Sensharma and Bhumi Pednekar; romantic comedy "Ginny Weds Sunny, starring Yami Gautam and Vikrant Massey, and Gitanjali Rao's festival favourite animation film "Bombay Rose" are also part of the slate.
"Mismatched", a young adult romance series, starring Prajakta Koli and Rohit Saraf, is also part of the new slate. The show is based on Sandhya Menon's book "When Dimple Met Rishi".
Monika Shergill, VP-Content, Netflix India, told PTI their aim is to "tell the most defining stories from India that will first appeal to the Indian consumers".
"It is really important that a story coming out of India becomes big in India. When local stories become big locally, that's when they make maximum impact globally.
"For us, it is important to tell the biggest and the most defining stories in India and to work with storytellers who bring their most authentic vision and passion for stories," she said in an interview ahead of slate announcement.
Shergill said they had been working hard to bring these titles out on the streamer.
"We have been in advance stages of post (production) on some, many are ready. The important goal was to put together a slate that has a diverse mix of content which can appeal to different moods, different tastes because for Netflix, it is important to be a service and not just one title destination," she said.
These new titles will join the upcoming slate of the already-announced films on Netflix, which include the inspiring true story of "Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl", starring Janhvi Kapoor, Pankaj Tripathi, Angad Bedi, Viineet Kumar, Manav Vij and Ayesha Raza Mishra, and dysfunctional family drama "Tribhanga - Tedhi Medhi Crazy", featuring Kajol, Tanvi Azmi and Mithila Palkar.
The digital platform will also showcase "Kaali Khuli", a horror story set in a village in Punjab and stars Shabana Azmi, Satyadeep Mishra, Sanjeeda Sheikh and Riva Arora, and "Serious Men", a witty drama based on Manu Joseph's novel. It stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Nassar, and Shweta Basu Prasad.
Cop drama "Class Of '83" with Bobby Deol, Bhupendra Jadawat, Hitesh Bhojraj and Annup Sonii, and Anil Kapoor-Anurag Kashyap starrer dark comedy "AK vs AK" will also be available on the streamer in the coming months.
"Masaba Masaba", starring fashion designer Masaba Gupta, actors Neena Gupta and Neil Bhoopalam; contemporary drama "Bombay Begums", whose star cast includes Pooja Bhatt, Amruta Subhash, Shahana Goswami, Plabita Borthakur, Aadhya Anand, and dramedy "Bhaag Beanie Bhaag", featuring Swara Bhasker, Ravi Patel, Dolly Singh and Varun Thakur, were already announced.
As theatres remain closed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, many filmmakers have opted for streamers to release their films.
Asked about the impact of COVID-19 on streaming services, Shergill said though there was an increase in viewing numbers, they are "mindful that it is a temporary phase".
"It has been an unprecedented time. People have looked for emotional comfort and we are happy that as a service, we were able to provide that. But we are also mindful that this is a temporary phase that has increased the viewing numbers.
"The one good thing that has happened is that many more people will cultivate a taste for premium storytelling, for discovering new kind of storytelling from India and around the world," she added.
Shergill said as a service, the streamer wants to explore all the formats in India - be it scripted storytelling, film stories, unscripted storytelling, documentary series or stand-up - without compromise.
"It is really about telling the best stories and it is never just about scale compromising on the flavour of storytelling or the kind of subjects we choose. For us, high concept, high craft and a great mix of stories and storytellers is the most important thing.
"As you can see, we have animation film 'Bombay Rose' in the lineup, which proves that we are interested in great storytelling whatever the format," she added.