Stories set against the heart of India are not a new trend for Bollywood. Now, OTT platforms have also used this template, which has led to many shows and films like Jamtara, Mirzapur, Gullock, Song Lok, Haseen Dilruba (2021), Panchayat and the recently released Love Hostel. And more often than not, Indian and international audiences appreciate them.
Hardik Mehta, author of Song Lock, the first series to be shot in Chitrakoot, Uttar Pradesh, says, “Some of the best filmmakers will tell you how much you go locally and how global you get.” We noticed the fantasy city of Breaking Bad or Hawkins in Stranger Things, and if we create a better series that breaks the chaos, our stories will travel globally from within our own.
Actor Rajesh Thailang, who has received rave reviews for his plans for the Mirzapur and Bandish bandits, believes that stories should be made about them as large sections of the Indian audience live in second and third tier cities. Agreeing with Mehta, he says, “I am an art student and I have been taught that the more you refer, the more universal you will be. That applies here as well. We express Iranian films set in the backyards of rural cities, but we connect with human emotion. That’s why world audiences recognize our stories. ”
A spokesman for Netflix notes that small towns have an “innate interest in understanding the inner dynamics”. Speaking about the international exposure of stories based on the interior, the spokesperson explains, “Our Nair thriller Aranyak, set in a small strange mountain town, gave us the opportunity to explore folk tales that are a rich part of our culture. Yeh Kali Kali Ankain (YKKA), set in Uttar Pradesh, opened up the opportunity to explore a humorous idea of transforming gender into a romance. And our superhero film Lightning Murali (2021) set the trend in the top 10 out of 30 countries with Kerala as the backdrop, shaking not only the country but the world.
Siddharth Senkupta, writer and director of YKKA, feels that the common bond between different cultures around the world is the basic human emotions, and that magic comes from “the rooted form of storytelling.” “YKKA is in the top 10 in Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Pakistan. Global players are present in more than 190 countries, making it possible for storytellers like us to reach a wider audience. And this is just the beginning. ”