A new OTT platform to open doors for Marathi-language content
Marathi cinema has arrived on the global podium and the launch of the world’s first Marathi OTT ‘Planet Marathi’ has only catalysed its popularity, giving hope to new generation of actors, producers and theatre artists. Marathi film industry has given many popular and talented actors to Bollywood from Shriram Lagoo, Nana Patekar, Dilip Prabhavalkar, Sonali Kulkarni, to Madhuri Dixit, Girish Kulkarni, Sachin Khedekar and the list is endless.
Aiming to elevate the demand and appetite of the Marathi language content, Akshay Bardapurkar, head and founder of Planet Marathi, is determined to bring every Maharashtrian under the platform’s umbrella by catering to a global audience.
Bardapurkar, who is on a short visit to Dubai, is exploring to boost local talent and expand in Middle East, making Marathi-language original content available on the OTT platform through movies, web series and classics.
Excerpts from the interview:
What brings you to Dubai?
The UAE has such rich culture and diversity and it offers variety that is incomparable. The Gulf audience, to be specific the Marathi audience, is huge and I take pride to reach out to them. They are the most intelligent and content-loving audience. We aim to shoot a few shows in the Gulf and showcase it to audience by roping in a few local Marathi talents as well in the near future.
Do you think Marathi cinema has arrived on global platform?
We live in a world where language is no longer a barrier. In fact, the OTT will help reach out to non-Maharashtrian audiences too, and in return, showcase the huge untapped potential of Marathi cinema. Planet Marathi’s app is currently available in over 200 countries.
You roped in Bollywood actress Madhuri Dixit-Nene for your launch?
Planet Marathi has roped in the queen of Bollywood Madhuri Dixit because she has a global appeal and that will boost the platform’s popularity. She firmly believes digital platforms have opened up the world for her personally and also for Marathi-language content. Besides she is open to work for Marathi web series if she comes across any interesting subject.
What has your journey been like so far?
I started Planet Marathi in 2017 in partnership with social media giant Twitter. Planet Marathi has since expanded into three verticals — Planet Marathi OTT — the world’s first Marathi OTT; Planet Marathi Productions and Planet Talent, a celebrity management venture. I graduated from Mumbai University and hold Specialised Diploma Certification in Brand Management from the UK. After investing around 11 years of experience in brand and Celebrity management, I am now an entrepreneur, film producer, brand imaging expert, and columnist.
What makes you believe that your platform will succeed. Do you think there is enough demand?
Marathi cinema has arrived on the global stage, and I would like to take pride in saying that we got them all together on the world’s first exclusive Marathi platform. Before us there were a few non-exclusive platforms which obviously could not gather that much attention, but with Planet Marathi, we aim to reach domestic and global Marathi audiences very soon.
How will the platform help new producers?
Such platform will ensure Marathi producers get the opportunity of exhibiting their films on digital space where the reach is global.
Do you think the new normal has increased content consumption on OTT?
Certainly! The onset of Covid-19 forced many people to stay home. Work from home only blurred lines between work and home. The only form of entertainment was consuming content on OTT, which opened doors for many talented people. The disruption compelled us to rethink our business models and revenue streams opening doors on global scale. We live in a boundaryless world where language is no longer a barrier. Many Marathi movies have made it big at international film festivals.
Any insights you want to share about your OTT’s reach in the Middle East?
The Middle East has been the most enthusiastic region. We have had several calls for release of our earlier films as well and with OTT, it seems they just couldn’t stop themselves from downloading the app. The unique part is that the Middle East just loves film content and we at Planet Marathi are going to add a few films in our bouquet for the region.
Would you like to share your expansion plans?
We are expanding in the region very soon with four other regional OTTs under the brand name of Planet and the base would be the Middle East. We have already taken steps towards the same and soon you shall see the plan unfold with a production house as well as a local talent pool.
Can you share details of Planet Arabia?
The proposed Planet Arabia will focus on content from other nationalities too, especially for the Middle East, generating original content by using local talent from the region.