Netflix is a streaming giant, but it has yet to break through in the most populated region in the world: Asia.
Netflix has over 130 million subscribers, but it has not exceeded more than 2 million customers in any Asian market, according to Bloomberg. The company hopes to change that with a collection of new Asian original series and films it announced at its first content showcase event in the region on Thursday and Friday, called “See What’s Next: Asia.”
Most of the series announced on Thursday were anime (a style of animation that originated in Japan). They include a series based on Guillermo del Toro’s giant robot-vs.-giant monster movie, “Pacific Rim,” and one based on the Netflix original sci-fi series that debuted this year, “Altered Carbon.”
But of the 17 new originals, the movies hail mostly from India. Eight new Indian original films and one series were announced on Friday, including a film starring Dev Patel (“Slumdog Millionaire,” “Lion”) called “Hotel Mumbai.” Netflix is betting hard on India in the region, as it can’t operate out of China without a local partner. The originals will follow a prequel to”Baahubali,” the highest-grossing franchise in Indian history, and “Sacred Games,” Netflix’s first Indian original series which is already streaming.
“Sacred Games,” though, highlights some hurdles for Netflix. The show has faced legal trouble because of its allegedly unflattering depiction of India’s former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. A petition was filed in Delhi High Court this year for Netflix to delete any references to him. A woman also accused Vikas Bahl, who co-founded the production company behind for the show, of sexual harassment. After an independent investigation, Netflix decided to move forward with season two.
The Indian original films and series announced on Thursday and Friday are below, with descriptions provided by Netflix:
Indian Original Series
Typewriter – is about a haunted house and a haunted book that stir the imagination of a group of young, wannabe ghost hunters, and a dog, determined to capture the ghost that plagues the notorious home in their neighbourhood in Goa. When a new family and their captivating daughter move into the haunted home, the crew finds it difficult to balance the demands of school and chores with the renewed urgency to capture the neighbourhood ghost before it is too late.
Indian Original Films
Chopsticks – is about an under-confident but talented girl, sidestepped at every stage of her life, who seeks out an enigmatic con to help recover her stolen car from a goat-loving, crazy Mumbai gangster. In the process, she finds her confidence and place in the sun. Along with Mithila Palkar who won hearts in Netflix series Little Things 02, Abhay Deol and Vijay Raaz will act in the film. “Chopsticks” is produced by Ashvini Yardi of Vineyard Productions and directed by Sachin Yardi.
Bulbul – produced by Anushka Sharma and Karnesh Sharma’s Clean Slate Films, is a period piece set in a vibrant atmosphere amidst age-old beliefs and superstitions. Satya and his brother’s child bride, Bulbul, were inseparable until he was sent to England for his education. On his return, he finds Bulbul has been abandoned by his brother and now lives a solitary existence as the enigmatic lady-of-the-palace, dedicating herself to the welfare of the people. But their ancestral village is plagued by mysterious deaths and stories of a haunting by a woman who lives in the trees. Satya must find the truth behind the lore and save his village from the evil “chudail with the inverted feet”
Upstarts – is a bromance about three college graduates from small-town India, captivated by the startup mania sweeping the country. As they enter the rollercoaster startup ecosystem of big dreams, big money and bigger sharks, they are faced with a big choice – their dreams, or their friendship. Directed by Udai Singh Pawar, “Upstarts” is produced by Raja Menon, Janani Ravichandran and Jawahar Sharma of Bandra West Productions. This film is supported by real-life heroes from the startup world in Bengaluru.
Cobalt Blue – based on the best-selling novel of the same name, is the story of a brother and sister who fall in love with the same man, and how a traditional Marathi family is shattered by the ensuing events. This story brings out the pain and the beauty of forbidden love, and is written and directed by Sachin Kundalkar.
15th August – produced by Madhuri Dixit, is set in a Mumbai chawl, and follows the course of a single day as its residents prepare for the flag-hoisting ceremony. This Marathi film is about the struggles of middle-class India and in a soaring climax, it is about how love sets us free.
Music Teacher – directed by Sarthak Dasgupta, is a story about an emotionally troubled music teacher, essayed by Manav Kaul, who gets a chance to come to terms with his bitterness with an estranged student, now a renowned celebrity singer of Bollywood. The music teacher vows to get back everything he lost in the past risking all his achievements in the present day.
Hotel Mumbai –tells the astonishing true story of the victims and survivors of the devastating attacks on Mumbai in 2008. The film directed by Anthony Maras stars Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Nazanin Boniadi, Anupam Kher, Jason Isaacs. This film is available on Netflix in the SAARC region only.
Firebrand – directed by Aruna Raje and produced by Priyanka Chopra, “Firebrand” is a Marathi Film that follows a successful lawyer, a sexual assault victim played by Usha Jadhav, as she tackles difficult family cases while also dealing with intimacy issues in her own marriage. Girish Kulkarni essays the role of her husband Madhav Patkar, an architect by profession. Sachin Khedekar and Rajeshwari Sachdev play a couple in the movie which is high on drama.