Netflix inks content deal with feel-good king of Bollywood

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BANGALORE (Sept 11): Netflix Inc is looking to one of India’s most influential filmmakers for original programming, advancing the streaming giant’s efforts to bring quality content to the entertainment-hungry nation.

The Los Gatos, California-based firm will work with a unit of the Karan Johar-owned Dharma Productions, to create a range of films and series exclusively for Netflix.

Director, producer and talk-show host Johar is considered the feel-good cinema king of Bollywood, thanks largely to the effervescent themes, star-studded casts, and the over-the-top sets and glitzy costumes that have helped turn several of his films into blockbusters.

He’s often described as the country’s most famous gay man, and is a fixture at some of its most lavish weddings, including the recent nuptials of Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani’s children. Johar has over 16 million Twitter followers and nearly 10 million followers on Instagram.

Netflix provides a “fearless space for creators,” Johar said in the statement announcing the partnership. “To create universal stories from India that the world discovers is an incredible and unprecedented opportunity.”

India’s video-streaming industry is expected to grow at nearly 22% per annum and reach 119 billion rupees (US$1.7 billion) in size by 2023, according to a recent report by consultancy PwC. Streaming wars have recently intensified between global giants, including Disney-owned Hotstar, Amazon.com Inc with its Prime Video, Walmart-owned Flipkart announcing free content streaming through Flipkart Video, and Reliance Industries’ Jio revealing a service that allows subscribers to watch movies on the same day as their theater release.