Language is no longer a barrier for TV shows to reach an international audience. The movie ‘Parasite’, which tells the story of a struggling family that finds an opportunity to live a parasitic lifestyle by all working for an extremely wealthy family, became the first non-English language film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.
The director Bong Joon-ho, said in his acceptance speech: “Once you overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”
In the past, people would dismiss music, movies, and TV shows that were not in their native tongue and they could not garner large audiences. Parasite’s Oscar win was an indication that attitudes have changed and it is Indian cinema and television that could benefit most from this shift.
Projections estimate India will have over 1.5 billion users by 2040 and when you consider we had around 749 million people online in 2020, you can see the investment potential. China still ranks as number one for the number of internet users, but internet usage is increasing in both urban and regional areas of India.
Because of the cheap availability of mobile data and the large price disparity between phones compared to desktop computers, most people are accessing the internet via their smartphones. Yet, internet usage is not the same among all demographics, with females and the elderly less likely to be spending time online.
By encouraging the women and seniors of India to become more technologically proficient and internet literate, there is scope for our digital footprint to grow significantly and this has garnered the notice of the entertainment industry.
We have already seen the online gaming industry pivot to become a more appealing option for Indian internet users, as evidenced by the Genesis Casino in India employing smartphone optimisation and elements of our culture in their branding. This is done by hosting an extensive library of games and accepting payment methods that are popular with different demographics. Now it appears the large on-demand streaming services and production companies are focusing their attention on India.
Netflix and Amazon Prime Video
These on-demand streaming and production companies are increasingly battling to attract new viewers in a marketplace that has become increasingly competitive with Disney and HBO aggressively joining the fray. Netflix remains the market leader, but Amazon Prime Video is bridging the divide. Both companies see Indian movies and original series as potentially huge in enticing new subscribers and are increasingly adding our most popular titles to their libraries. The crime thriller ‘Sacred Games’ on Netflix and the wedding drama ‘Made in Heaven’ on Amazon Prime have been successful both in India and internationally.
Both companies are striving to provide content that will appeal to the growing viewership here and abroad and both have reasons to be optimistic about their latest releases. With the action-adventure ‘Minnal Murali’ rights bagged by Netflix for a record price and Amazon Prime showing the world our love of cricket with ‘Inside Edge Season 3’.
Made-in-India movies and TV shows with international appeal are excellent for boosts in tourism, job creation, and national pride. To see our actors and directors receive acclaim from critics and fans from all corners of the world is heart-warming, will result in increased budgets for Indian productions, and might just see one of our own collecting the Academy Award for Best Picture.