ZEE5 Global, one of the largest over the top (OTT) platforms for South Asian content, released a romantic comedy web film titled ‘Jodi Kintu Tobuo’ on April 1. The movie, starring Apurba and Faria for the first time as an on-screen couple, is a classic mix of romance, comedy and drama.
The Financial Express (FE) had a conversation with Archana Anand, Chief Business Officer of ZEE5 Global, about the film, their future plans and experiences with the Bangladeshi audience.
FE: Zee5 launches ‘Jodi Kintu Tobuo’, a film of the romantic genre. What are your expectations about this in particular?
Archana Anand (AA): It is one of the four productions that we have done. We have produced content in the crime and eclectic thriller genres which is very different in terms of style. ‘Jodi Kintu Tobuo’ [literally meaning ‘If But Yet’] falls in the romantic genre. At such a troubled time across the globe, we hope that the audience will hopefully enjoy this movie. They will recognise it as a beautiful movie. We believe that the Bangladeshi audience will also love it.
FE: The Bangladesh government is planning to impose VAT-Tax on OTT platforms and monitor and censor content. Do you have any concerns regarding this issue?
AA: To address the first part of the question, we are making it very clear that we will comply with the laws in every country. Of course, it would be wonderful to have systems that are equal and help such industries grow.
To respond to the second part of the question, censorship is a global issue, including in Bangladesh. Personally, I believe that OTT platforms should be allowed to self-regulate. We are responsible and deeply committed to our consumers. We already have checks in place, such as age restrictions, age categories and clear communications with consumers.
FE: Why did you choose Bangladesh as the first market for local content production?
AA: We see tremendous talent in Bangladesh. These artists have big aspirations, hopes and dreams. There are opportunities and abilities here to work together and bring art together. We really are stronger when we are together.
There is a lot to connect us in terms of our cultural connections and value systems. That is why Bangladesh is an obvious choice for us as a partner. As soon as we launched here, we became the number one (OTT player?) within a short time and it has given us a sense of the kind of love there is for (original?) content.
FE: Is there any particular genre of Bangla content that Zee5 is interested in producing and streaming?
AA: Any story can make it if there are characters in place and the content is right. We will try our hand at some hyper local content for the Bangladeshi audience. We will also work on true stories of Bangladesh which will be introduced to the world.
FE: What type of response is your project receiving in Bangladesh? And any remark about the Bangladeshi audience?
AA: If you look at social media, you can see how enthusiastic the Bangladeshi audience is about our projects. Our OTT film project was postponed due to Covid-19 last year. Then we produced a ‘song of hope’, a folk song from Bangladesh. You may also have a look at the comments on the song on our YouTube channel to understand the Bangladeshi audience’s level of enthusiasm. The sense is that the Bangladeshi audience is already connected to our heart and soul, and we want to ensure that they are not let down.
FE: As a global entertainment platform, what are your future plans?
AA: When we first went global, we mainly aimed at catering to the demand of the South Asian audiences with great content for audiences in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. We also have focused on exporting local content from these countries and take them on to the global stage.
Now we want to look for other markets such as Bangladesh. We have already shortlisted some markets. In those countries, we will go for creating local content that may entertain a wide range of audiences.
Definitely, a big part of our dream is to ensure that we are the foremost platform of South Asian content globally.
FE: Thank you.
AA: You are welcome.