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Big Synergy gears up for ambitious digital content play    EXCLUSIVE

MUMBAI: Reliance MediaWorks and Phantom films’ production company Big Synergy is betting big on digital content as intense competition among over the top (OTT) platforms has led to a surge in demand for original content.

The production house is planning to release around six to seven web shows in 2018 for digital platforms such as ALTBalaji, Netflix, Amazon, Vuclip, Applause Entertainment and Voot.

It has already produced its first web series ‘Yo Ke Hua Bro’ for Voot. It is also producing a web series for ALTBalaji titled ‘Bose Dead/Alive’.

The company is also producing ‘Sacred Games’ for Netflix, ‘Kaushiki’ for Vuclip, ‘Vishpuri’ for Amazon Prime Video and an untitled project for Applause Entertainment.

In next two years, Big Synergy is looking to increase its content hours and release around eight to nine shows on digital every year. It also plans to produce one or two finite shows on television. It is also looking at strategic alliance with producers and directors to create digital content.

Big Synergy chief executive officer Indranil Chakraborty said, “We used to be specialising in non-fiction shows but in last one a half years we have plunged on an opportunity to create content for digital platform. Our big narrative is to create shows for all the digital platforms. Last year we got associated with Phantom Films and with them we are creating shows for Netflix and Amazon. We are not associating with production house but creative producer and director to create content.”

For digital content, the company is looking to associate with other content creators as Chakraborty believes that creating digital content requires different sensibilities. He also said that the company plans to produce show for the international market in next one and a half years.

“Now nobody in India is well versed on how to create content for digital. We are learning because it is another language, the story narrative is very different. The narrative follows the structure of television where every episode should be connected but when it comes to production the design it follows is that of film. Fortunately we are working with Netflix and Amazon so lot of screenplay inputs are coming from them so we are learning from them. Within next one and half we hope to excel in the format and produce the show for their market as well,” he added.

Big Synergy is also looking to create Anthological series like Narcos. They also have brought rights for various books for the same and has invested a lot of time and money. When it comes to the budget of producing content, Big Synergy is planning to create shows that are on-par of international markets. It is looking to create shows from Rs 1.5 crore for 7-8 episodes to Rs 30-50 crore budget.

The production cost for their soon-to-release series ‘Bose Dead/Alive’ lies in the midrange of Rs 10 to 20 crore. The 10 episode series starring Rajkummar Rao will trace the journey of the freedom fighter from being an introverted 14-year-old to a 48-year-old brave nationalist. National Award winning director Hansal Mehta has taken the role of creative director for this project and is directed by Pulkit.

“Although Bose Dead/Alive is a web series for ALTBalaji we have shot it as a film. We have shot the film in five different locations – Kolkata, Mumbai, Leh Ladakh, Thailand and Poland. We will be delivering 220 minutes of content so the hour of content is more than the normal film,” Chakraborty stated.

TV production plans

Apart from digital, Big Synergy is also focusing heavily on television content. Till date the company has produced over 4500 hours content revolving around non-fiction format. After mastering the art of non-fiction content, Big Synergy is planning to foray into fiction content.

Big Synergy has shot a pilot for Star Plus which will be a long-running thriller drama comprising of 60 to 90 episodes. The show will feature a parallel story narration. Chakraborty states that following the success of the fiction they hope to create more fiction finite series.

Apart from the fiction show, Big Synergy is working on five home grown non-fiction formats. They have already shot a pilot for Star Plus and are also in-talks with Sony Entertainment and Zee TV for the other formats. The formats of three shows will revolve around live interaction with audience while the other two shows will have a game format. They are also planning to bring back Dus Ka Dum, next year with some tweaked format.

“Post the success of Rising Star I think Live interactive shows has become quite big. We also saw good response on Kaun Banega Crorepati through our Live initiative of Jio Play Along. With Dus Ka Dum we want to further bump the live interaction format. We want to involve audience right from the start which is the audition process. Our challenge is how to involve people,” he commented.

This year, Big Synergy witnessed huge response for the ninth season of Kaun Banega Crorepati. According to Chakroborty, the reason the season has been a success is because it is returning after a hiatus of three years. The fact that they went back to basic and removed the film integration and other filler segment has helped to attract audience, he stated.