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Netflix India: ‘The objective of Intermediary Rules is to do what is best for consumers and creators’

Netflix India's Monika Shergill discusses the streaming service's commitment to offering a wide variety of content for its Indian subscribers

With an impressive slate of content for 2021, Netflix looks set to build on the significant inroads it made during the pandemic year into the Indian OTT market.

The streaming major recently announced an array of titles for this year, which include the Karan Johar-produced Ajeeb Daastaans, Sonakshi Sinha-starrer Bulbul Tarang, Dhamaka featuring Kartik Aaryan and Chaitanya Tamhane's The Disciple besides others.

The Dhanush-starrer Jagame Thandhiram and Mani Ratnam's nine film spectacle, Navarasa, which features names like Suriya, Parvathy Thiruvothu, Aditi Balan, Vijay Sethupathi, Siddharth, Arvind Swamy, Prakash Raj and Gautham Menon, are a part of the package.

This year will also see the return of a few popular web series like Delhi Crime, Mismatched, Jamtara and Masaba Masaba, besides originals like Finding Anamika, starring Madhuri Dixit, Decoupled featuring R Madhavan and Aranyak with Raveena Tandon and Parambrata Chatterjee among others.

In an interaction with MetroPlus, Monika Shergill, Netflix India's vice — content, remarks that the streaming platform is on “a very strong growth path” and that a big year awaits in 2021. “The kind of content we have put together, it is a full suite in every genre. We have headliner talent off and on screen, and we continue to support passionate creators to tell their best stories.”

Taapsee in ‘Haseen Dillruba'

Excerpts from an interview:

It's quite a robust slate of films Netflix is offering audiences…

When you look at our slate, you will realise how strongly we feel about the audience in India — both current and potential members. Whichever country we are in, the goal is to be the definitive entertainment service.

We are seeing more diversity in the cast and crew as well with your increasing reach among regional audiences…

More than from a business perspective, we are looking at talent across India. And I would it if when we talk to creators to script stories, for instance, from down South, then they make it for a national audience.

We are one country with different tastes and languages, but talent coming from one region into the national space is something we should all be excited about. When opportunities are increasing and we are programming for a diverse slate, then you can't just stick to the same people and same way of doing things.

The newly notified Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines And Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, should be a thing of concern for you, isn't it?

The important thing to note is that the goal of the Government and that of the [digital streaming] industry is to do what is best for consumers and the creators.

Suriya in ‘Navarasa'

Don't you think self regulation would have been a better option?

We have always in self regulation. We have always approached our content the same way. If you see the service, the kind of information we display makes it easy for everyone to choose content that works for them. We have always had the rating of 7+, 13+, 16+ etc.

We are in the process of understanding what the new guidelines are. However, the streaming services are here to grow.

The extraordinary growth of OTT platforms last year resulted in a frictious relationship with theatres. Will it remain the same in 2021?

The relationship with theatres is not frictional but extremely collaborative. Films will continue to be available on streaming devices post-theatrical, and the theatre business in India is a robust one. With audiences discovering films on streaming services and as we partner with theatres, it will bring in a far bigger business overall.

There is still some hesitation, however. Not too long ago, Dhanush — who is part of Netflix film The Gray Man, tweeted in support of a theatrical release for Jagame Thandhiram

There isn't a talent from across the world that isn't coming on Netflix at the moment. Extraction with Chris Hemsworth did smashingly well in India. We have stars like Gal Gadot, Dwayne ‘The Rock' Johnson, Chris Evans, Ryan Gosling, Jason Momoa [etc.], and we are very proud to have Dhanush on The Gray Man and Jagame Thandhiram.

The same talent will have great movies coming out in theatres as well as on Netflix. But the significant aspect is that it's always ‘audience first'. They should get to enjoy the stories of their favourite stars, writers and directors wherever.

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