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Netflix ups the ante to take on Amazon Prime Video in India, unveils 2 original series

MUMBAI: Upping the ante in the Indian market, internet television network Netflix has greenlit two new original series from India as it faces intense competition from Amazon Prime Video. These new series are ‘Selection Day’ and ‘Again’.

‘Selection Day’ is based on the book by acclaimed author Aravind Adiga (‘White Tiger’) while ‘Again’ is a supernatural, female-led detective series set in New Delhi and written by Marisha Mukerjee (‘Quantico’, ‘Justified’).

In contrast, Amazon Prime Video has planned a series of 18 original shows. It rolled out the first India original ‘Inside Edge’ recently. It has also been aggressively acquiring movie content from production houses like Dharma Productions, T-Series, and Vishesh Films. Recently, it announced a landmark deal with Salman Khan under which the Bollywood superstar’s future films would first premiere on the Amazon OTT platform before being shown on TV.

“We are excited to be expanding our slate of originals in India. These projects have specifically local subjects, but will be great for our global audience, and are supported by world class talent,” said Netflix VP international original series Erik Barmack.

‘Selection Day’, produced in partnership with Seven Stories, is a story of cricket and corruption. It is based on Booker Prize winning author Aravind Adiga’s novel of the same name. This coming-of-age tale depicts the glory and rivalry in the city of Mumbai.

Manjunath Kumar, 14, knows he is good at cricket – if not as good as his elder brother Radha. He knows that he fears and resents his domineering and cricket-obsessed father, admires his brilliantly talented sibling and is fascinated by the world of ‘CSI’, and by curious and interesting scientific facts. But there are many things about himself and about the world that he does not know. When Manju begins to get to know Radha’s great rival, a boy as privileged and confident as Manju is not, everything in Manju’s world begins to change and he is faced with decisions that will change both his sense of self and of the world around him.

“When I first read ‘Selection Day’, I was completely overwhelmed by the scale and ambition of Aravind’s vision and moved to my core by its emotional power,” said Seven Stories CEO Anand Tucker.

“We are delighted to be working with Netflix on what feels like a new chapter in the age of global storytelling, and we are bowled over by Erik and his team’s passion for this story,” he added.

Seven Stories is the UK-based production company of directors Sharon Maguire and Anand Tucker, and is part of the ALL3Media Group. The book sale was brokered by Luke Speed at Curtis Brown.

Set in the busy and colourful city of New Delhi, the detective series ‘Again’ tells the story of a female homicide detective who must put her career and life on the line when a recent murder connects to closed cases from her past, proving she has a serial killer on her hands. As she seeks justice, the answers she uncovers along the way not only affect her life, but also challenge the faith, beliefs and relationships of everyone surrounding her.

“When it comes to telling ground-breaking evocative stories, I cannot think of a better partner than Netflix to bring this show to India and to audiences across the globe,” said Marisha Mukerjee.

“’Again’ not only speaks to my own duality and cultural heritage, but also to the universal grey that exists between life and death, where religion intersects justice,” she added.

Netflix’s first major move towards localisation was its partnership with Anurag Kashyap’s Phantom Films to produce an original series in Hinglish based on the critically-acclaimed best-selling novel ‘Sacred Games’ by Indian author Vikram Chandra.

Subsequently, it inked a movie licensing deal with Shah Rukh Khan-promoted Red Chillies Entertainment (RCE). As part of the deal, new films starring Indian movie superstar Shah Rukh Khan will be exclusively available to Netflix members globally.

In India, the OTT market is getting over-crowded with several players entering the space. Global giants such as Netflix and Amazon are not only offering international content but also eyeing to provide home-grown content. The space has seen intense activity and has television networks like Star India, Sony and Zee having their own OTT platforms in the form of Hotstar, Sony Liv, Ditto TV and OZEE. Reliance Industries Ltd has agreed to acquire stake in ALTBalaji. Eros Now, the OTT arm of Eros International, has just announced that it has seen a 38% jump in its paying subscribers to 2.9 million as of June 2017.

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