Hotstar has launched its sixth Original show under Hotstar Originals Out Of love, which is the Indian adaptation of Doctor Foster a popular British series of BBC Studios.
Out of Love stars Rasika Dugal and Purab Kohli actors who have done exceptionally well for Star’s TV show P.O.W – Bandi Yudh Ke. Out of Love is produced by BBC Studios.
Out of Love is a modern day infidelity story. The promo looks gripping and promising. The show has been directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia and Aijaz Khan.
On the side-lines of the media launch, Medianews4u caught up with Gaurav Banerjee, President &Head- Hindi GEC, Star India to get some interesting insights on the show and other things buzzing in Hotstar.
How has the response from your earlier five Hotstar Specials been? What are the viewership and subscriptions and numbers for the platform?
I think the response has been really good, people have appreciated the fact that we have tried tobreak the law and the monotony. We started with a sports documentary, with MS Dhoni directed by Kabir Khan. We then went on to a very strong social drama called Criminal Justice, after which we put out an exciting thriller like Hostages and then we had something completely different such as the Office.
I think people believe that we are here to do different kinds of things, and tell high quality stories.The viewers have largely been kind to us, which is also very encouraging. We are in a good space, I think, but these are early days for us. We launched our first show only in March 2019. We are here having this conversation in November and this is our sixth show. We have also done a couple of director digital movies.
So we are off to a good start, where we’re sort of building frequently with new offerings, and hoping to really provide a big range. We want to be the brand that gets associated with a wide range of stories with exciting storytellers.
Tell us about Out of Love, I understand that it’s an Indian/Hindi adaption of BBC Studios’ Dr Foster?
All the stories that have been streaming were largely for some reason, male centric. A lot of them were thrillers and action which again is certainly very important.
But that meant that a certain kind of an evolved drama, which was putting a woman at the center had not been tried. So I think that was something that got us thinking, should we do something which is a little removed from what everyone else is kind of doing? And this was just a really good story. So I saw Dr Foster as a show as purely a consumer and I enjoyed watching it. While I was watching it, we were not working on Hotstar Specials and as a consumer I thought an Indian adaptation could be possible. I also felt we could take a shot and maybe get other people to like it as well. We discussed it inside with the team and other people also agreed.We spoke to the creative team and they saw some merit in it as well.
I think the team has done a wonderful job of adapting it and making it look like, this was here and in India. The big thing that attracted the team was the question the show was asking, you know, what is a modern marriage today all about? What does a love in marriage mean today? What does infidelity mean today? And these questions were very important, and someone needed to ask them someone needed to tell a story around it.
This is our effort.
How has the association with BBC studios been?
It’s been fantastic. Actually, BBC and Star have been partners for a very long time. We’ve done many shows together on TV and on Hotstar as well. Criminal Justice was just superb. I think they’ve done a wonderful job of producing it; they pitched this idea to us. They’ve just got such amazing talent to work on it, and they’ve created the right environment and built a very high quality show as producers.
How did the cast come board were they the first choice or you had other names in your mind?
No, I mean, we had a story that we really liked. We had a great director on board and our team and maybe all of us had many conversations as to who would be the best people to bring this to life and we had seen the amazing work that Rasika and Purab have done through and the incredible careers that both of them have had.
They have worked on our platform on Star Plus earlier and we thought that, along with the mantra that they were the right people, the best possible actors to do these roles.
Is the content strategy for Hotstar Originals only dependent on Indian adaptations of foreign shows?
It’s riding on great storytelling and fabulous talent. We’ve just started. This was six, seven months of our journey. The first show that we did was ‘Roar of the Lion’ which was a sports documentary which was a story around the IPL,and nothing to do with any adaptation.
The couple of movies that we have put out are also not adaptations.
I think as it happens that we have done Criminal Justice and Hostages and now Out of Love so it seems like we’re only doing adaptations,but we are not. We have a very exciting, slate of stories which are originally being written by very high quality Indian writers. I think principally, and primarily, we want to do continue to do that.
But we also believe that there are great stories that have been written all over the world and if we can find the right context in them for India, we can get people to watch them here and get enriched by them.Indian stories like Mahabharata, God’s Word has inspired people, not just in India but all over the world. That has happened in the past with Shakespeare as well. So I think there is a great opportunity to learn from and to be enriched by and entertained by stories written anywhere in the world.
A good story is a good story,it doesn’t matter in which language it was written first and that’s the way we’re looking at it.
Edgy and edge of the seat of the content always sees more traction…..I am sure you will agree to this, so how has the response for Office 2 been, which is not from this genre?
Office has got an audience of its own and I think the big thing that we are figuring out in the new world, is that there are viewers for all kinds of stories, people are truly interested in a very wide range of stories.
We shouldn’t say that only edgy stories are working or only confirming stories are working or only comic stories are working, if they are told well,if the presentation is high quality, the writing is really good and the acting is fabulous. I think viewers will watch it.
So I don’t believe that and people choose genres, they choose great stories and great characters. I think that’s what our effort will be to try and just get an exciting mix of stories of all kinds.
What are the key consumption trends that you see in today’s time?
I think firstly the biggest trend that we’re seeing today is that we can create a range of different stories and consumers will want a wide range. Second is that viewers are more discerning for quality. I think people want to see better acting; they want to see better direction.
I think what is the hygiene expectation on that has truly gone out, which is fabulous right? So I think those are the two really big things. People want a wide range, they don’t want to be told similar stories again and again and I don’t think there was ever a time for formula. This is a great time and a deep need to really lift off on quality dimensions across the board. I think there’s a lot of excitement for great talent. So I think if you’re a great actor, wonderful director, great writer. This is an amazing time because you will do something really different and very fresh.
Can non-subscribers of Hotstar sample a few episodes of the show or is everything behind pay wall?
Only the first episode, if you’re not a subscriber to Hotstar VIP. If you really like it, we hope that you will pay the one rupee per day and get that subscription.
What is the regional content plan for Hotstar specials?
So honestly we don’t have a regional plan, we have a story or a content plan which is across regions and across languages right. Out of Love itself will go across in seven Indian languages, we will produce the show in Hindi, but we when we put it out on the platform and you can choose whether you want to watch it in Hindi, Bangla, Marathi, Telugu,Kannada, and Malayalam or in Tamil.
I think just as Out Of Love is produced in Hindi, We are also producing other shows in other Indian languages. Our first Tamil show is under production right now.