Netflix Targets 5-6 Indian Originals a Year

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The video streaming giant is currently producing its first Indian original, ‘Sacred Games,’ with Bollywood star Saif Ali Khan as the lead.

Netflix plans to ramp up its slate of Indian originals following its recent announcements of three projects.

Addressing a Friday session at the Mumbai Film Festival, Netflix vp international originals Erik Barmack said the company was targeting “at least five to six Indian originals a year.”

Rival Amazon announced 18 homegrown originals when the service launched in December, which are at various stages of production. It already premiered its first original, cricket drama Inside Edge.

Netflix’s first Indian series, currently in production, is Sacred Games, directed by acclaimed filmmaker Anurag Kashyap (Gangs of Wasseypur) and Vikramaditya Motwane (Udaan), based on author Vikram Chandra’s book of the same name. It revolves around Mumbai’s web of organized crime, corruption, politics and espionage. The show will launch next year and will be streamed worldwide.

“We tend to look for filmmakers [to make our originals] since our series are like movies,” Barmack explained, arguing that Sacred Games had the potential to “trend [internationally] like Narcos.” Barmack also revealed first-look photos of the series, which also stars actress Radhika Apte and actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui.

Netflix’s two other planned Indian originals are Selection Day and Again. Selection Day is based on the novel of the same name by best-selling author Aravind Adiga and revolves around cricket and corruption. The series will be co-produced with U.K.-based Seven Stories, which is part of All3Media, owned by Discovery Communications and Liberty Global, and backed by filmmakers Sharon Maguire (Bridget Jones' Baby) and Anand Tucker (Leap Year).

Again is a female-led detective series set in the capital New Delhi and is written by Marisha Mukerjee whose credits include Quantico and Justified. The series focuses on a female homicide detective who must put her career and life on the line when a recent murder connects to closed cases from her past, suggesting she has a serial killer on her hands.

When asked by THR if Netflix had any plans of getting into local film production, Barmack said that it was still “early days” for the company in the country with its immediate focus on original series.

He explained that Netflix would like to see more Indian talent working on its U.S. productions, mentioning the example of director Ritesh Batra (The Lunchbox) who helmed the video giant’s recent original film Our Souls at Night, starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, which reunited the two five decades after 1967’s Barefoot in the Park.

“We would also like to introduce Indian actors in our U.S. productions,” Barmack added. For example, Netflix’s Sense8 featured Indian actress Tina Desai in a prominent role.

When asked by THR if Netflix’s recent U.S. subscription price increase would have any effect on its prices in India, Barmack declined to comment. In India, the service costs $8-$13 (500-800 rupees) per month.

The Mumbai Film Festival opened Thursday and runs through Wednesday.