Today, all OTTs are shifting to slightly longish, TV ++ format: Nivedita Basu, Atrangi
Launched in 2022 on DD Free Dish, Atrangi, an Indian freemium streaming platform and Hindi-language general entertainment channel, recently introduced five in-built apps to offer a more diverse range of content.
In conversation with Adgully, Nivedita Basu, Vice President of Content & Business Alliances, Atrangi, sheds more light on the five in-built Atrangi apps, audience preferences, the unique challenges of creating reality content as opposed to traditional scripted formats, as well as her journey from traditional television to the digital realm, and more.
Your journey from being associated with iconic shows like ‘Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’ to your current role at Atrangi is impressive. What inspired you to transition from traditional television to the digital landscape?
I think the pandemic was the main reason why OTT picked up in India. During the pandemic, what happened was that people were sitting at home frustrated, they didn’t have anything to do, they couldn’t step out and television had its limitations of timing. So, OTT platforms were where people were consuming content. I’m so glad that it happened, because otherwise India was still about five years away from picking up on OTT; the pandemic sped up the whole process. People wanted to consume so much content on OTT and as content makers, not just us, but even short format content makers like the YouTubers and influencers started doing well as well.
After having done Saas Bahu shows for almost 20 years, we can now actually make shows which we were passionate about making back then, but we didn’t have the means of making a feature because during that time it was either you made television content or a film or nothing. But now, you have so many platforms. And people who don’t get a platform, they still make content for YouTube or Instagram. So, I think it’s a great period right now for content, because they don’t have to limit themselves.
With the rise of OTT platforms, the content scenario has undergone a significant transformation. How do you see this change affecting the types of content being produced and the preferences of the audience?
A good part of OTT or television in today’s time is that there is content for everyone. It is not the time when you had a single TV and whatever your mother put on you had to be subjected to it. Everyone has mobile phones, they pick up and play whatever they want. So, there is content for everyone and we don’t have to limit ourselves. Of course, even OTT is getting a little cautious. I remember when probably five years back, they were making eight to 10 episodes. But today, all OTTs are shifting to slightly longish format, they’re going into TV ++ format, because they feel that if one is investing X amount of money, they want a long term gratification to that content. So, if you are putting in Rs 10 in making one content, we would rather make 10 content out of it. Thus, it is widening its horizon in terms of content. OTT has become like a home ground now to watch content at your convenience. So, like I said, if it’s a good time for content creators, it is a very good time for content consumers.
Please tell us more about Atrangi’s five in-built apps?
We call Atrangi our super app, because we have five different channels in it. We have a television channel on Atrangi, which is called Firangi, wherein we showcase a lot of dubbed content from all the countries, including Turkish content, Korean content, Ukrainian content, Spanish content as well as Pakistani shows. So, for Atrangi Firangi we have a catch-up TV option. At any point if you missed your show, you can go back and watch it according to your convenience.
Then we have Imli for podcast. Imli as a platform will cater to a wide range of spicy stories.
Then we have Ullu, which is a retail app. It is about everything which costs only Rs 99 and offering a wide variety.
Then we have Satrangi, which offers edgy stories, love stories, and Ajeeb Dastan.
Flaunt is our most talked about app right now, which is all about fashion. We didn’t have a platform in particular which talked about upcoming fashion models, fashion shows. Flaunt is also going to be a very, very big reality TV platform, because we are planning to do about 10-12 reality shows in a year. We are kick starting with Divya Agarwal’s ‘Kink’, which is ‘kiss, ishq, connections’. It is a captive reality show with 12-16 boys and girls who are put together. Thus, when you subscribe to Atrangi for an X amount of rupees, you get so many things to watch, and not under just one app, but under five different apps.
You’ve been associated with both reality shows and daily soaps. In your opinion, what are the distinctive challenges and rewards of creating reality content compared to the more traditional scripted formats?
Along with ‘Kyon ki...’, ‘Kahani...’, ‘Kasauti...’, ‘Kusum’, I have done almost 70 daily soaps. During that time, the stories used to be unlimited. No show of mine ran less than three years, with almost 650-700 episodes. But at Atrangi, we consciously make an effort to limit our shows to 100 episodes, which is three months. Today, people want to watch new content every day.
Thus, the content at Atrangi is very sorted. I get that fresh lease of life on my daily soaps and fiction shows, as well as unscripted content too, when I talk about reality shows. In fact, today making reality shows is tougher because once you’re playing with real people, you can only give them that much cue, but the drama which is going to come out is going to be real. So, it takes a lot of thinking, because there is so much reality already happening compared to the previous years.
I have some very highly dramatic and highly popular people on social media whom we are hosting in some of my shows. It’s an interesting watch.