Amazon, Netflix look to boost Indian movies and web series in $54 mn deal
Amazon.com Inc. and Netflix Inc. are among platforms partnering with Indian production house Clean Slate Filmz Pvt. to push out movies and web series worth about 4 billion rupees ($54 million) as the battle for content heats up in one of the world’s largest entertainment markets. Clean Slate Filmz, based in the Bollywood heartland of Mumbai, will release eight films and series on these over-the-top streaming sites as well as some others in the next 18 months, the studio’s 37-year-old co-founder, Karnesh Ssharma, told Bloomberg. Ssharma declined to provide a full list before they were officially announced.
A Netflix spokesperson confirmed they will be rolling out three upcoming productions with Clean Slate Filmz, while Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The release roster is the latest sign that film production is recovering in the world’s most prolific movie-making center after being crippled by the financial and logistical disruption unleashed by the Covid-19 pandemic, which shut down cinemas and film shoots across the country. Movement curbs have eased and movie theaters reopened in the past few months, further bolstering the prospects of India’s studios.
The pandemic, which forced people to consume more entertainment online, also exposed India’s almost 1.4 billion population to varied geographies and niche genres on an unprecedented scale.
This has fueled a race to secure content among streaming giants, benefiting smaller but edgier studios like Clean Slate Filmz that produced the 2015 motion feature “NH10”, which starred Ssharma’s Bollywood actor-sister Anushka Sharma and tackled the practice of so-called honor killings in India.
Last month, Netflix slashed its India subscription costs by as much as 60% as it sought to claw back market share from Amazon and Walt Disney Co., the two dominant online entertainment platforms in the country. Netflix’s Co-Founder Reed Hastings last week voiced frustration that the streaming giant hadn’t gained momentum in India, known for its highly price conscious consumers.
The competition between OTT giants has meant that budgets are rising, so is the will to experiment, according to Ssharma, whose studio is behind the acclaimed crime series “Paatal Lok” on Amazon Prime Video.
Clean Slate Filmz is now gearing up to release on Netflix “Chakda ‘Xpress”, a biopic where Anushka will play an Indian cricketer who’s considered one of the world’s greatest female fast bowlers, as well as thriller series “Mai” and drama film “Qala.”
“What has happened over a period of time is ambition is also going up within the studio systems,” Ssharma said. “And that’s great for people like us.”