Netflix has announced 10 new original films from India, from the likes of Shah Rukh Khan, Anurag Kashyap, Zoya Akhtar, Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee (Khosla Ka Ghosla!), Ronnie Screwvala (Uri: The Surgical Strike), Farah Khan (Main Hoon Na), Sudhir Mishra (Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi), Sooni Taraporevala (Salaam Bombay!), Atul Sabharwal (Aurangzeb), Shashanka Ghosh (Veere Di Wedding), and Ruchi Narain (Kal: Yesterday and Tomorrow). All the 10 new Netflix Indian films, which span the genres of comedy, drama, romance, sci-fi, thriller, and horror, will release before the end of 2020.
SRK-founded Red Chillies Entertainment is producing Class of ‘83, directed by Sabharwal, which “explores the story of an upright policeman-turned-trainer whose students grapple with the complexities of honour, morals and devotion to the nation.” Red Chillies is also a producer on Netflix's upcoming series, Bard of Blood.
Kashyap, Akhtar, Johar and Banerjee come together for another anthology — following Bombay Talkies and Netflix's Lust Stories — called Ghost Stories, where they will naturally “tell spine-chilling tales”. Ghost Stories is being produced by Screwvala's RSVP, and Ashi Dua, a producer on both previous anthologies. Screwvala said that they are on the lookout for “many more stories and sequels from India.”
“The overwhelming success of Lust Stories — which still has people talking about it a year after it launched — made us want to repeat the magic with our second anthology called Ghost Stories,” Screwvala said in a prepared statement. “With Netflix, we have a partner who complements the strain in RSVP's DNA — to lean into risk when it comes to bold content narratives and creative freedom.”
Banerjee will serve as the sole director — and producer — on another Netflix film called Freedom, which is “the story of an Indian family interwoven with the personal, ideological and sexual history of India and how desire plays a common role in each.”
Johar's new digital-focused Dharmatic is producing Guilty, a drama directed by Narain that “explores the versions of truth that emerge when a small-town girl accuses the college heart-throb of rape.” The film will be told through the eyes of his musician girlfriend.
“Today, a filmmaker with an interesting idea has so many avenues to connect with the audience, and Netflix is definitely one of the most exciting among them,” Johar said. “As a content creator, there has never been a better time to tell stories! Guilty is a film that explores a personal, powerful subject where a small-town girl takes on the structures that protect perpetrators of rape.”
Farah Khan is producing her husband, Shirish Kunder's (Tees Maar Khan), film Mrs. Serial Killer. It follows a “doting wife” who must recreate a serial killer's murdering ways, to get her husband out of jail, who has been framed and falsely imprisoned.
“The Internet is an exciting place for telling stories that are multi-genre and multi-layered,” Khan said. “We are thrilled that our film Mrs. Serial Killer will launch first on Netflix. Being on Netflix allows the film to find its audience on their own time and stays on for newer audiences to discover it even months later. Both Shirish and I at Three's Company are looking forward to embark on this journey together.”
Mishra is writing and directing Serious Men, based on journalist Manu Joseph's book of the same name. It's “about a wily slum dweller, who cons the country into believing his dim-witted 10-year-old son is a genius, to realise that the only victim of his dangerous game is his son.” Bombay Fables and Cineraas Entertainment is producing Serious Men.
“Book adaptations typically face the conundrum of pleasing the reader or pleasing the viewer, but Netflix has eliminated the need for a compromise,” Mishra said. “The reader and the viewer converge on Netflix, and now we can tell quality stories the way they were meant to be told. So it seems natural that this thrilling tale of wiles, wits, danger and redemption would find a home and an audience on this platform.”
Yeh Ballet is based on Taraporevala's 2017 documentary short and marks her return to feature film direction after a decade. It is the story of “two boys from very low-income families who discover ballet and through it a way to escape their challenging circumstances.” Roy Kapur Films is producing Yeh Ballet.
“This is the extraordinary journey of two young boys who find themselves and their purpose in life, thanks to a chance meeting with a ballet teacher,” Taraporevala said. “Making films that speak a global language while celebrating their local beating heart is every filmmaker's intent, and I'm beyond thrilled to bring this unbelievable story to life on Netflix.”
“Yeh Ballet explores the universal theme of rising above one's circumstances and finding acceptance and belonging, through the riveting true story of two young boys from Mumbai who discovered themselves through ballet,” Siddharth Roy Kapur said. “The expression of emotions through the universal language of dance is an integral part of every culture around the world, and the global reach of Netflix gives us the opportunity to have this powerful story resonate with an audience around the world.”
Ghosh and novelist Samit Basu will co-direct House Arrest, a thriller that follows “a man — trapped in his own fears — who locks himself at home, only to find that while he can restrict his interaction with the world, he can't keep the world from entering his domain.” Basu wrote House Arrest, which is being produced by India Stories.
That leaves Kaali Khuhi from director Terrie Samundra, and Maska from director Neeraj Udhwani, both of whom are making their feature film directorial debut.
Kaali Khuhi is the story of 10-year-old Shivangi, an unlikely saviour for a Punjab village that has “a history of female infanticide and mysterious deaths”. Manomay Motion Pictures is producing Kaali Khuhi.
Maska is about “a confused millennial who sets out to fulfil his fantasy of becoming a movie star, until a summer romance with a clear-headed girl helps him discover the fine line between dreams and delusions.” Seher Aly Latif and Shivani Saran's Mutant Films are the producers.
“When Netflix launched in India, we changed the way Indian audiences enjoy their films,” Netflix's director of international original film for India, Srishti Behl Arya, said in a prepared statement. “Given our diversity, history and culture, India is home to powerful stories waiting to be told to audiences around the world. The depth of talent and vision of our creators is enabling us to create films our members will love. We want to be a home for India's finest filmmakers where their stories travel to more people than ever before.”
For Netflix, the 10 new original films from India join the five unreleased ones — Music Teacher, Cobalt Blue, Chopsticks, Upstarts and Bulbul — from the nine announced last November. Gadgets 360 has learnt that Hotel Mumbai is not coming to Netflix. In 2019, Netflix has already released critically-acclaimed Soni, Priyanka Chopra-produced Firebrand, and Madhuri Dixit-produced 15 August.