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Line between international & Indian content blurring: Amazon Prime Video’s Aparna Purohit at Vidnet 2019

Purohit said creative people can never be owned.

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MUMBAI: Sensing the wide array of opportunities in the Indian video streaming market, major international platforms have dived in to take a share out of it. Amazon Prime Video is one of the players which have built an impressive slate of local content with hits like Breathe, Made in Heaven, Mirzapur and The Family Man amidst the intense streaming battle. As the platform has a presence across the world with a large international content catalogue, Amazon Prime Video India Originals head Aparna Purohit said the line between Indian and international content is blurring.

At the stage of Vidnet 2019 organised by indiantelevision.com, Purohit shared her interesting insights on the market in a short but freewheeling chat with The Linus Adventures founder and chief evangelist Sunil Lulla, a media veteran with extraordinary experience in the industry.

“The lines between here and there, international and India (content) are blurring. The Marvelous Mrs.Maisel, Jack Ryan connects with us as much as Made in Heaven, Breathe, The Family man trends across the world. So, I think those lines are blurring. But I really want to tell stories of us. We are a nation of storytellers,” Purohit said.

Lulla started the chat curious to know the stories she is chasing now. Purohit said she is always after good, compelling, exciting stories that are deeply rooted within Indian but has resilience across the world; stories that will transcend boundaries of ethnicity, caste, religion, gender, etc.

“Different people get excited about different stories. Fortunately, we have a full range of stories. My father can get excited about the stories we have, my three-year-old niece can get excited about stories. We have romance, psychological thriller, and political satire so we hope we are getting everyone excited,” she added as the chat progressed.   

She also added that the platform has a full array of stories including exciting unscripted shows that are coming up in the comedy genre. Moreover, the platform’s popular series Inside Edge is returning for a second season along with an exciting period drama, a musical romance.

She also added that Amazon recognises that people like to consume content in the language they prefer. In addition to Hindi content, the platform is now creating a directory of content in regional languages. It already has content in ten languages. She also pointed out that shows like The Family Man have actors from the south, up north, Kashmir and Maharashtra.

“For us everything is customer-backward. It’s our customers that make us relevant. We try to see what is the need gap that exists,” she answered when Lulla asked about Amazon’s meaning of relevance in India.

“Even for me understanding the consumer is extremely important. I would not say our consumer is just one kind of a person. An educated working liberated woman like me, a smart, entrepreneurial person like you, it could be a retired government official like my father sitting at home and watching our content, it’s like my uncle sitting in a remote town – our audience is varied. Now we have footprints in 400 cities of the country,” she commented on the importance of consumer understanding.

There have been talks on how Amazon Prime Video and Netflix are spoiling the Indian market with their deep pockets and increasing the cost of content for others. Purohit said creative people can never be owned and they never have the intent of owning anybody.

She said that what they are doing is trying to create a cinematic TV experience. Every show is like three and a half or four films. No matter who looks at the show, Indian or internationally, it should never look like it isn’t international.

As saas-bahu saga is largely tagged as TV content, Lulla asked how this filtration has been done. Purohit said that they will also have shows involving families where there will be mothers-in-law, fathers-in-law, and daughters-in-law.

“We just got started. We just touched the tip of the iceberg. There are so many marvellous stories to be told. There will be an ecosystem where writers and creators will be respected. We will tell all kinds of stories that can never get a platform,” she added further on probable progress in the next five years.

“The interesting thing about this medium is that it’s not formulated. It's not driven by any options like box-office. So, we can cast any actor. We can truly cast a character freely,” she said towards the end of the engaging session.

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