Not only theatre lovers but others will also find Nine Rasa interesting: Shreyas Talpade

Actor-turned-entrepreneur Shreyas Talpade enters the start-up ecosystem with his own OTT platform which will showcase plays and performing arts exclusively

e4m by Mitaksh Jain
Updated: Apr 9, 2021 6:38 PM

It has been more than a year but the pandemic refuses to abate. The disruption it has caused in every sphere of our lives cannot be quantified in numbers. Travel has come to a standstill, restaurants have been forced to shut down, jobs have vanished, and the very fabric of our society has been altered dramatically. One of the worst-hit sectors was that of live theatre. With the threat of infection acute in confined spaces, theatre did not stand a chance against COVID-19. But that did not deter Shreyas Talpade who has doubled up as its patron saint.

Shreyas set out on a journey to save theatre from the debilitating effects of the disruption in May last year and he has arrived now with his over-the-top platform titled ‘Nine Rasa’ with over 100 hours of content in Hindi, English, Marathi, and Gujarati. The content will be uploaded in a phased manner. The platform will exclusively showcase plays and all types of performing arts.

Talpade said that the aim was to launch something by September last year. “The logistics of shooting and getting content in place was difficult. There were a lot of these obstacles that kept coming in between. We thought of shooting in August, then it got pushed to September then to October. October is when we started shooting content.”

He said that the tech took time to get ready which was followed by testing, the beta testing. “We thought to target April as it would give us enough time to check all the bugs and fix them.”

Talpade aims to take theatre to every household with his platform. When asked about the challenges of bringing in the people in a cluttered OTT space, he said: “99% of the people have this mindset: ‘Theatre is a live thing. How will it happen online?’  I'm in no rush; I just want to keep providing content to the audience. They will find something relatable, they will probably find the play funny or they'll find it to be emotional. At some point, they will feel that this content is good, and why are we missing on this? And then they would talk about the content to others. The kind of content we've shot, I'm pretty confident that not only theatre lovers but others also will find it interesting and entertaining enough.”

Shreyas said that the plan in the first four months is to see how people react to the content and the platform. He does plan to bank heavily on the digital medium to get the word out first. He is also looking forward to various kinds of tie-ups and integrations with various platforms, and like-minded people. “Like-minded people who believe in the vision I share for theatre and want to take it forward.”

The OTT space in India is a tough nut to crack with nearly 40 OTT players vying for attention. With his intention to bring theatre to the mainstream, ‘Nine Rasa’ will be competing for attention with the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video even though the content offerings differ significantly.  

“We are in no way trying to compete with them. Our platform will not have web series or films because we do not have the deep pockets of these players. We have decided to focus only on theatre and performing arts. Whoever wants to experience theatre, please come on our platform and enjoy it. It's as simple as that. We are not trying to compete with the Netflix or the Amazons or Hotstars of the world.”

The app will be launched in two plans: Rs 59 per month and Rs 599 for a year. “It's quite reasonable. In fact, some of my friends suggested make it Rs 99. I didn't want to go in that space because people will compare eventually Amazon is giving this much in a particular set. While I want to keep it reasonable, I also wanted a slight amount of premium because it is theatre. It is the reason of the pricing.  We are also introducing merchandising in phase two,“ Shreyas revealed. 



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