Netflix lifted the curtains off its plans for Asia expansion by announcing the launch of 17 new originals, nine of them hailing from India. The announcement was made by Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings and chief content officer Ted Sarandos at the See What’s Next: Asia event here.
“What we do is very special. We invest in stories and we commission some of the best stories around the world,” Hastings said. “And in particular with Asian filmmakers, storytellers from India, Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan and everywhere throughout Asia, we are producing stories and sharing them. What happens when you share stories, it builds connections,” he added.
The line-up of its made-in-Asia shows also includes five Anime titles from Japan and original productions in Thai, Korean and Chinese languages. “Our core belief is that great stories can come from anywhere and right now, they are also coming from Asia. Whether it is ‘Sacred Games’ or ‘Lust Stories’, we are fortunate to be able to work with the best storytellers from Asia,” said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos.
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The original series from India currently being made includes “Baahubali: Before the Beginning”, “Bard of Blood” and an official adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s “Midnight Children”. The “Baahubali” prequel will star Smaran Sahu, Mrunal Thakur, Rahul Bose, Atul Kulkarni, Sahib Verma and Sunil Palwal, the company announced.
At a panel discussion, Simran Sethi, director, international originals, India talked about another Indian original “Leila”, which has celebrated director Deepa Mehta and scriptwriter Urmi Juvekar onboard. “Leila is an amazing story. It is from a novel by author Prayaag Akbar. We optioned the book because it is a very powerful story of a mother’s quest to find her daughter in dystopic future.
“It was very important for us to find amazing female filmmaker to tell this story. So we have got an amazing director in Deepa Mehta and Urmi Juvekar who is the showrunner. We are shooting in Delhi right now.”
Sethi said it is important for the streaming giant to find the right talent for its shows, be it in direction or acting.
“Leila” will feature Huma Qureshi, Sidharth and Sanjay Suri. The Indian subscribers of Netflix will soon get to watch to two projects on the platform feature film Rajma Chawal and another original series Selection Day.
Netflix is working with Sujoy Ghosh on a new original, “Typewriter”, a Goa-set horror thriller. Apart from India, Netflix will also a launch a slew of new anime series, including ones based on Pacific Rim and Altered Carbon.
Other anime projects include “Cagaster of an Insect Cage”, a series from Gonzo that’s set in a post-apocalyptic world where a disease has turned people into giant insects; “Yasuke”, which is about a former warrior tasked with protecting a child targeted by dark forces; and “Trese”, which is based on a Philippine graphic novel about a woman going up against elements of a supernatural criminal underworld.
The Thai-language shows include the live-action mystery series The Stranded and drama Shimmers, which is about five teens, stranded in a remote school, who are visited by terrifying forces. The streaming giant also announced a Chinese language Taiwanese show, “Triad Princess”, apart from the already commissioned series “Nowhere Man”.