We all have grown up on stories, some told by our grandparents, some we read in books, heard in songs and watched in plays. We have a rich storytelling heritage that spans many languages and regions. Every state in India offers distinct storytelling opportunities embedded in our culture. This diversity of stories exists with respect to both the means of entertainment and the content created by the people living here.
India’s love for storytelling is reflected in the glorious history of filmmaking which itself is more than a century old. The advent of cinema, television and then entertainment streaming services have given impetus to this timeless art to be taken to the world stage. We are in a golden age of entertainment that allows stories that represent our rich culture and heritage to be brought to consumers either as a two-hour film, an eight-episode series or even as a non-fictional documentary. This has resulted in an increase in opportunities for writers, filmmakers, creative professionals from all across the nation and also led to a variety of content across genres, moods, characters etc.
The media and entertainment sector is a significant job creator and there is a rising demand for creative talent. The heavy investment of streaming services in a multitude of stories from across the nation has accelerated this demand by creating more opportunities for new creative roles as more content is being produced than ever before. The concept of showrunner, for example, has been a notable one in recent times. You can liken the showrunner to the CEO of a startup because a showrunner shoulders the creative and management responsibilities of a series production while orchestrating the engagement between stakeholders such as the production house and cast and crew.
All this while ensuring that the timelines for delivery are being met without compromising the creative vision. Similar to showrunners, there are intriguing new creative processes like the ‘Writers Room’ which helps writers band together, brainstorm on ideas and create a narrative arc of complex layered characters that audiences love. These innovations are the latest in India’s fabled entertainment industry evolution that produces stories, across formats and mediums, consumed in India and around the world.
India’s streaming services industry is one of the fastest-growing in the world. According to a PwC 2020 report, it is believed that by 2024, India’s streaming services industry will become one of the top six worldwide. This growth is fueling significant investment in content, talent and creative professionals resulting in the best stories being produced in India, making it truly a golden age of entertainment.
Streaming services have been a boon for consumers and creators alike. For one, an Indian living anywhere in the country can watch the same film, at the same time on a device of their choice, often on a personal, hand-held device, and in the comfort of their home. Additionally, content creators, many who are the first time writers and directors are able to tell new stories, from small towns and villages, and streaming services help find audiences who love the story—be it a grandmother in Lucknow or a working professional in Nagpur. This has also opened up lots of opportunities and inspired more women storytellers to come forward and more storytellers to tell more women-centric stories. Today, every medium is thriving and streaming services have given a boost to the Indian entertainment industry helping strengthen India’s position as one of the world’s premier centres of entertainment.
We will see more and more writers, producers and directors creating stories about our incredible nation and its rich diversity with characters that are mainstream, layered and entertaining. These stories, free from the constraints of time, form and budget, have the power to reach audiences across the world who want to be entertained. By focusing on creative excellence and artistic expression creators can strive to tell the finest stories. That’s because whatever the genre or story if it’s well made the internet helps you find an audience around the world. We need more Indian stories to compete on the global stage with the finest global films and series from around the world.
—The author, Srishti Arya is Director, International Original Film, Netflix. Views are personal