We are not building Hindi shows but Indian content: Gaurav Banerjee, Star India

Gaurav Banerjee, President & Head of Hindi Entertainment, Star India, talks about the journey of Hotstar Specials and why it is not looking to partner with other platforms

e4m by Sonam Saini
Updated: Nov 19, 2019 9:50 AM

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Gaurav Banerjee

In February 2019, Hotstar launched its line-up of original shows under ‘Hotstar Specials’. The eight-month-old property has announced its sixth show 'Out of Love' based on the British series 'Doctor Foster' on November 15.

Gaurav Banerjee, President & Head of Hindi Entertainment, Star India, shares insights on Hotstar Specials' journey so far and why Hotstar is not looking for partnerships with other platforms.

On Hotstar Specials

It's been a great eight months. We launched in February this year and so far produced six shows and digital movies. The response is very strong and we're getting a lot of people to watch. Hence, engagements are getting stronger. Also, critical reviews have been kind to us.

We have a variety of shows from MS Dhoni's 'docudrama' to the social issue-led show 'Criminal Justice'. We thoroughly enjoyed making of these shows, bringing them to viewers and marketing them aggressively. We feel that there has been a lot of streaming of shows in India in the last couple of years. We have just started and we have built up nicely.

Regional language plans

We want to make shows in many different Indian languages and have greenlit a few shows. Our Tamil show will be the first off the block in the next few months. The way we are thinking about it is that any show that we do, it should be made accessible to consumers and different Indian languages. We are not building Hindi shows, we're building Indian shows, and we have just started, but it's India and all languages are important. As we keep scaling up, we will add more and more. We are a company that's been there in storytelling for a long time but we have been in the streaming storytelling environment for only eight months. We are taking our first steps in a market which is new. Though we have been doing this for eight months, I think the entire streaming phenomenon is two to three years old.

Partnership with other platforms

We feel that we have a very strong platform in Hotstar. It was launched in 2015, so we are continuously seeing big growth. It is a big destination for cricket, for Star drama on TV and now with our Specials. We've got a good platform, great brand value, wonderful content constellations, and we can keep fuelling this and growing it. We want to build our own capabilities to keep doing a different kind of storytelling and keep building that muscle; it's a new muscle and it's very exciting, it's fresh, and if we can keep getting better, it will be good.

Consumption trends on Hotstar

One thing that we've noticed is that there is no formula. People are willing to watch different kinds of stories. We got a sports drama and people have come and sampled it in a big way. We have a lot of belief in the platform. In streaming, there seems to be a very simple formula that makes content extremely edgy - focus on adult men or action. Our conclusion is totally different. There is no such straight jacket, break the straight jacket to a wide variety to create quality. And so I think those two things are the biggest trends emerging now there is a massive appetite for range, it's really important to deliver quality and when you put all of that together, consumers are much more likely to say, "Wow'!

New line-up for 2020

We are very excited about the new line-up of shows that we have. I think we have a very aggressive line-up. There are a lot of things that we are doing which we believe are of high quality and creatively extremely exciting. We are working with incredible talent. We have a Neeraj Pandey, Nikhil Advani and Ram Madhvani on board to work on interesting themes. We are continuously scaling up and will definitely launch more shows next year than we have launched this year. It's not a game driven by frequencies or by quantity. It's a game driven by quality. That's what we are truly focused on.

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