If the Oscars can do it, can Asia’s oldest celebration of cinema —the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) — be far behind?
Not only the 52nd edition of IFFI welcomed within its fold the works being done by and for OTT platforms this year, but is doing it with great gusto with dollops of collaborations from the digital platforms.
For the first time ever in IFFI, a web series — ‘Aranyak’ from the Netflix stable, starring Raveena Tandon in lead role — premiered at the film fest last week.
‘Aranyak’, which means wild and inspires curiosity, is a crime-noir in Netflix-style. Woven around a mysterious murder case involving complex interplay of political maneuvers, personal agendas and a beastly myth, the web series gave IFFI delegates the vicarious pleasure to embark on the journey of solving the case — by screening the first episode of the series.
Cine lovers at this hybrid event, being held in the seaside city of Panaji of Goa State, were also treated to some insights into the series characters with key artistes speaking about the show.
Lead actor Raveena Tandon, who plays the cop investigating the murder case along with a fellow male police officer; series director Vinay Waikul; producers Siddharth Roy Kapur and Rohan Sippy and Netflix India chief of content Monika Shergill shared their experiences and insights at an IFFI 52 In-Conversation Session on “The Making of Aranyak”. The series has been produced by Roy Kapur Films and Ramesh Sippy Entertainment.
IFFI delegates listened to Raveena Tandon explaining the inspiration behind her role of Kasturi Dogra, a sincere cop as well as a doting mother and wife.
“Kasturi is fierce, independent and a brilliant cop who tries to balance her personal life and work. Through this character, I want to give the message to our viewers that we see women on different fronts, be it women in uniform or women in the corporate sector, trying to balance their work and family lives. I know women in our society can rise even higher if her family becomes the wind beneath her wings,” Tandon said.
She added that thanks to OTT platforms and other creative media, female-centric films are being given prominence now.
Delegates were curious to know what to expect from the series. Kapur was not afraid to raise their expectations: “The story was so compelling and unique that I decided to back this web series. The treatment has been done in a very organic and authentic way. The audience will be treated to a visual delight.”
Monika Shergill, VP, Content, Netflix India, said that ‘Aranyak’ is an authentic crime-noir, styled specifically for the OTT platform. “Crime thriller is one of the most watched genres on Netflix. But crime noir has not been created in a series format in India till now. So, ‘Aranyak’ is an authentic crime-noir, Netflix-style. The series is about unpretentious, rooted characters in a small Himalayan town; one can relate to their struggles. It is primarily the authenticity of the story and strength of the characters which attracted us,” she said.
Shergill highlighted the platform’s commitment to women’s leadership in films. “The representation of women in films has expanded over the years, but not fast enough. Netflix has a deep commitment to women-driven projects. 50 percent of Netflix executives are women, we want to break the gender stereotype.”
The web series will begin streaming on Netflix from December 10, 2021.
IFFI has kept up its progressive evolution and adaptation by embracing the digital and connected age, the organizers said.
For the first time also, most major OTT platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Sony(LIV) and others are participating in the film festival through exclusive master-classes, content launches and previews, curated film package screenings, and various other on-ground and virtual events.