Amazon Adds Reality Shows to its Originals Slate in India

Vir Das - Publicity - P 2016
Courtesy Vir Das

The streaming giant greenlights two stand-up comedy formats and a musical talent show for its subscribers on the subcontinent.

Amazon Prime Video is boosting its original content offerings in India with a triple play of entertainment reality. 

The streaming giant on Wednesday announced three new reality formats for its Indian subscribers: two centered on local stand-up comedy and one a musical talent competition.

Jestination Unknown will be a six-episode traveling comedy format featuring Indian stand up star Vir Das and a rotating group of his fellow comedians  Each episode will explore a new city on the subcontinent, looking at how comedy pertains to the local culture, and culminate in a stand-up performance. Das featured on rival Netflix in the streamer’s first Indian stand-up comedy original titled Abroad Understanding, which premiered in April.

Comic Kaun (working title) will be a Last Comic Standing-style nationwide hunt to find India’s next comic sensation. The 10-episode series will feature a panel of top comedian judges picking India's leading funny man or woman. The show will be produced by entertainment firm Only Much Louder. Amazon earlier inked a groundbreaking deal with OML ordering 14 stand-up specials featuring some of the country’s leading comics, including Tanmay Bhat and Sapan Verma who are to be among the judges on Comic Kaun.

On the music side, Amazon has picked up local remake rights for The Remix, a talent-hunt format from Turkey’s Global Agency that has been sold in 15 countries across Asia, Africa and Europe. The 10-episode competition will pair up DJs and singers to create remixes whose work will be judged by celebrity judges including well-known Bollywood talent Sunidhi Chauhan and Amit Trivedi and EDM producer Nucleya.

Amazon Prime Video director of content Vijay Subramaniam told The Hollywood Reporter that the three new shows “will go live in the first quarter of 2018. Unscripted shows are definitely a beginning for us and we hope to develop this further.”

As for the impetus to launch two reality shows around comedy, Amazon Prime Video Asia Pacific head of content James Farrell said that the decision was driven by the fact that “we have had a good response to our Indian comedy content.” He also added that enhancing the streamer’s Indian content mix with unscripted shows was in line with what was being done in other markets: “We have had success in the the U.S. with [sports documentary series] All Or Nothing while in Japan (the local version of) The Bachelor has really worked.”

Following its first Indian original, cricket drama Inside Edge, Amazon is now in production on another original drama, Made in Heaven, with both shows produced by leading Bollywood banner Excel Entertainment.

Amazon currently has some 18 Indian originals at various stages of production, including a World War 2 series with the working title The Forgotten Army.