Bang, Baaja, Baaraat to Tripling, web series are the future: Nikhil Taneja
Nikhil Taneja, the head of development of Y Films, tells us where web series are headed, in the run up to a panel discussion at the Jio Mami 18th Mumbai Film Festival
Apart from its fare of world class films and interactions with world class filmmakers; the Jio Mami 18th Mumbai Film Festival is also holding a panel discussion on the growing market of web series in India this weekend.
With Yash Raj Films entering the web series market with Y Films's Bang Baaja Baaraat, and TVF taking the production values of the web up a notch with TVF Pitchers and Tripling, the online medium has come a long way in India.
We had a chat with Nikhil Taneja, the head of development of Y Films, about who is curating the PLAY section at the PLAY Section at the Jio MAMI festival. PLAY seeks to celebrate the youngest medium for storytelling, the internet, through the youngest format of film, the web series. PLAY is of, by and for the uncompromising film fan, who believes that medium is temporary, narrative is permanent. Here are excerpts from the conversation:
Isn't a common perception that a web series is easier to produce and requires a lower investment on the budget front as compared to a regular TV series? Taneja refutes this idea. "Not really" he says. "Let me give you a recent example. Have you seen TVF's Tripling? The production values of the series are as good as a films. Now that more and more people are watching these series online, we have to make sure that the content matches their standards."
Taneja tells us the fascinating story of how the internet helps address topics that TV or film doesn't let you address in mainstream shows. "Sometimes I have heard names of body parts being censored on TV. That's the great thing about the web medium. We get to use the a very conversational tone in our dialogues. It's more free flowing and less censored, and this might be one of the reasons it resonates with the younger crowd."
Look who's watching
Taneja also debunks another popular perception: only city-slickers watch web series. He says the content caters more to the college-going population in Tier II and III cities. "One of the reasons TVF is so popular is that the content is more Hindi-skewed. It's very relatable to the young college crowd in smaller cities. And these people do not have a lot of content that is geared towards them and made specially for them. They really enjoy these shows." He does add, "But the older age group, say between 25-35 years of age, consumes more of these web shows in the urban populace."
How they are watching
Taneja tells us a lot of people are watching web series on their smartphones: "People do consume a lot of content on their phones, in smaller cities and even in places like Mumbai. If you take a look inside a Mumbai local, people will have their headphones on and will be watching a web series on their smartphones."
Taneja also tells us he thinks giving Indian web shows a more local flavour is the future — and the future is bright. He says, "If you look at channels like Voot, they have their content geared towards the more regional sections. They have regional subtitles. Y Film's Pappu & Papa is dubbed in five languages. Since people in Tier II and III cities consume this content, I do think it is important to make shows in their languages and tell stories that they can relate to as well."
Nikhil Taneja will be moderating the PLAY PANEL on 23 October at PVR ICON for the Jio Mami 18th Mumbai Film Festival. PLAY seeks to celebrate the youngest medium for storytelling, the internet, through the youngest format of film, the web series. PLAY is of, by and for the uncompromising film fan, who believes that medium is temporary, narrative is permanent. Taneja will address the issue "Is the web series model in a country like India even sustainable? Or is it a bubble waiting to burst?"