People might have different perspectives about a particular place. Guess how Netflix perceives India? Land of extravagant weddings and extra expenses inherently lead to a dysfunctional marriage, subsequent divorces, and angsty teens caught between the proceedings. Yes, Decoupled, I am looking at you and your problematic narrative of bourgeois humour in the guise of woke content. Or they misrepresent a particular race and culture entirely while trying to fit a story between their set narrative.
Try looking up Indian content on Netflix and take a shot every time you encounter the word “match”. I assure you, you’ll feel pretty drunk by the time the game ends. Do not get me wrong; the streaming service has produced some brilliant original content in India, namely Delhi Crime, that mirrored the harrowing investigation following the brutal gang rape of Nirbhaya, Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s Sacred Games or even the recent release Is Love Enough, Sir? That touches upon class conflict and romance.
However, the streamer is pretty inconsistent in the kind of content it lays out for its Indian audience. Recently, Netflix reduced prices drastically to appeal to a more significant demographic and increase the number of subscribers. However, a large majority of the Indian audience is remotely not interested in foreign-language content. Netflix has a wide variety of English, Korean, Spanish and other languages, but the Indian content seems pretty limited and conventional.
Not only has the streamer not aggressively tried to venture into the realm of the unknown, following the suit of films like Bulbul, but also failed to recognise the genre of content that has attracted the attention of viewers. Netflix has also, single-handedly, destroyed some fantastic web series that had previously fared exceptionally well on YouTube. The glaring example would be Kota Factory, a show that focused on the unimaginable grind that Indian students exert to get through one of the toughest entrance exams in the world, the IIT-JEE, while battling burgeoning problems regarding teenage, addiction, romance, declining mental health and more. While the series was indeed a brilliant success on YouTube, it began losing its charm and seemed way more mechanical and rehearsed with the advent of Netflix’s creative control.
India also loves consuming reality-TV content. From the success of shows like Big Boss to other singing and dancing competitions, it is evident that dinner table conversations are not complete without a daily dose of reality TV entertainment for most Indian families. The lack of content appealing to that sector might also be one of the primary reasons for the failure of the streamer in the country. While Netflix has a variety of unscripted shows, not many are appealing to the Indian audience who would rather see a well-known superstar serve as a host while a group of contestants battle it out.
India is a diverse country with diverse interests. Netflix needs to note all the variety of genres that appeal to the different sets of audiences while also paying attention to the prices. And yes, the streamer also needs to stop typecasting the characters into set boxes and stereotypes. Since it entered the Indian market in 2016, it has been five years, but a lot of work needs to be done.