With the Coronavirus shutdown in the entertainment industry, one would expect that homegrown digital streaming platforms would be starved of new content to stream to their millions of subscribers. But the top OTT platforms in India have shown that they are made of a different mettle. ZEE5, Hoichoi TV, Eros Now and Applause Entertainment have not only kept viewers happy and engaged, they’ve set new parameters to prove that ‘The show must go on’, lockdown or no lockdown.
While foreign-spawned streamers, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix, have no dearth of content in the lockdown, courtesy their huge international content libraries and acquisition of Hollywood movies, it is homegrown players that have to scramble together new content to stream.
But our homegrown platforms have shown that when push comes to shove, their creative juices start overflowing like Mumbai’s drains in the monsoons.
Platforms like ZEE5, Hoichoi TV, Eros Now and Applause Entertainment have created eminently watchable content in the lockdown, with all actors shooting their parts in their own homes with their own shooting devices — yes, even with mobile phone cameras; and all the cutting, editing, etc, happening remotely, from the homes of the respective technicians.
Eros Now began the trend, with their lockdown show, A Viral Wedding, written, directed and acted by Shreya Dhanwanthary. The rest of the cast includes Amol Parashar, Sharib Hashmi, Sunny Hinduja, Mohit Raina, among others.
The show was well-received, with many applauding its creativity. Eros Now followed it up with a special lockdown edition of its popular comedy series, Metro Park, starring Ranvir Shorey, Omi Vaidya, Purbi Joshi, Pitobash Tripathy and Vega Tamotia.
Next, Hoichoi TV took up the baton, and came up with an interesting comedy series shot entirely from the actors’ homes in the lockdown. Called Case Jaundice, it stars Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Ankush Hazra, Anirban Chakrabarti, and is directed by Subhankar Chattopadhya. It is a humans versus Coronavirus case fought in court, with lawyers defending both sides and a judge presiding over matters. The effect is hilarious. The director helmed the series from his own home, and the actors recorded their own scenes at their own homes.
Hoichoi TV has announced that it will soon premiere another lockdown-shot series, this time a suspense and murder thriller – imagine shooting a show in the difficult to carry off genre under lockdown. Called Pabitra Puppies, it stars Vikram Chatterjee, Sohini Sarkar, Saurav Das, Ankita Chakraborty, Debapriyo Bagchi, and Saayoni Ghosh, and is directed by Debaloy Bhattacharya.
Applause Entertainment shot a lockdown special edition of its popular sitcom The Office, with most of the ensemble cast joining in from home, and getting as goofy as possible. Mukul Chaddha, Guauhar Khan, Sayandeep Sengupta, Abhinav Sharma, Priyanka Setia, Preeti Kochar and Gavin Methalaka are participating in the ongoing WFH special series of the Wilkins Chawla Paper Company.
ZEE5 too has chipped in with a lockdown special series Bhalla Calling Bhalla, which is really engaging and humorous. It stars Lubna Salim, Rajesh Kumar, Gaurav Gera, Leenesh Matoo and Gracy Goswami, and tells the story of the Bhallas, a Gurugram family with all members stuck in different parts of the country during lockdown. Ali Asgar has a cameo in one of the episodes.
ZEE5 also premiered 3 special lockdown episodes of its Telugu comedy Amrutham Dvitheeyam in May. It is slated to premiere a unique lockdown edition of the romantic drama Never Kiss Your Best Friend, starring Nakuul Mehta and Anya Singh. It is an interesting concept, and the oksyfjexcited to see what the platform comes up with. The Lockdown special will premiere later this month.
ZEE5 also has another show conceived and created in the lockdown, called Kaalchakra. Not much is known about it at present.
If anything, with the surfeit of homegrown lockdown specials shot from home, our platforms have shown that come hell or high water, pandemic or hurricane, The Show Must Go On!
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