Zee Expands US Footprint, Strikes Deal With Other Streamers To Be Aggregator
MUMBAI, (IANS) – Bollywood personalities Manoj Bajpayee, Vishal Bharadwaj, Pratik Gandhi and Guneet Monga talked about how South Asian content has broken barriers and gone ahead creating waves in the US.
It was a panel of ZEE5 Global which has announced a strategic move to aggregate multiple South Asian streaming platforms within its platform with the launch of Add-ons in the US.
The ZEE5 Global Add-ons will offer subscribers in the US a single window to access South Asian entertainment platforms on the platform itself, a press release said.
Manoj said that earlier he would visit his friends or relatives in the US, “there was someone in that crowd and in that party who would come and talk to me and there was one person who always came to me and not just to me but to whole lot of people who were making the kind of cinema that the whole of diaspora wasn’t watching it”.
“Diaspora was only talking to me about ‘Veer-Zara’, which started irritating me. I could also see a few percentages of that crowd which were not with those kinds of films, but they were there, and I could see some hope in that crowd. I realized it was going to take time, but I did not know when, but it would happen I was praying. I did not know it would happen so soon,” he shared.
ZEE5 Global Add-ons currently offers content across languages from streaming platforms like Simply South (all South Indian languages), Oho Gujarati (Gujarati), Chaupal (Punjabi, Bhojpuri, Haryanvi), NammaFlix (Kannada), EPIC ON (Hindi) and iStream (Malayalam) with at least six more being onboarded.
When asked by moderator Anupama Chopra if he sees the way people are perceiving South Asian stories or is it just film festival based, director Vishal Bhardwaj, whose ‘Maqbool’, traveled to the Toronto and Marakesh Film Festivals said: “I think the whole process started many films and filmmakers contributed to that. I think it started with Shekhar Kapur with the ‘Bandit Queen’ and Manoj has been part of all these movements…We were taken as people dancing around the trees but then what Rehman did was incredible, another film that made a mark was ‘Lunchbox’.”
Bhardwaj said that when ‘Maqbool’ went to Toronto, he wasn’t expecting anything.
“Because I thought my film wouldn’t be taken seriously, now with humility I want to say that many people are doing doctorates and dissertations in my mythology… In all my Shakespeare trilogy… we are part of that wave. When we would cross that and look back, we would realize how many people have contributed,” he added.
Guneet said that India is making brilliant content and as a “producing geek” she thinks about how to take it far and how can she add value. “We are a 100 percent equity industry but if we can constantly expand our footprint that started from ‘Gangs Of Wasseypur’….which very few people know was the first Indian 5-and-a-half hour film released as an eight-part miniseries in the US on Netflix and that’s a deal that I fronted and I was very excited that I was able to break through in 2012 and 2013 a miniseries on a new format.“