Netflix India’s Srishti Behl Arya: Want to create content for every mood

Sana Farzeen
netflix india

Srishti Behl Arya is Director International Originals at Netflix - India. (Photo: Instagram/srishtibehlarya).

Srishti Behl Arya, Director International Originals at Netflix - India, said that the platform's primary goal is to make its subscribers happy. Behl was speaking to senior journalist Vanita Kohli Khandekar at the Vdonxt summit held recently in Mumbai.

Talking about her job at Netflix, Behl shared, “My responsibility is to try and find the most interesting projects. I also have a fantastic team. We read scripts and work closely with the production houses to get the project rolling. Our primary goal is to make our subscribers happy. We want to make sure that they are served what they like to watch.”

When the moderator quizzed her about reports that suggest the company has invested Rs 3,000 crores in the Indian market in 2019-20, she said, “The figure is an indication of our commitment towards producing content for India and the whole world.”

Srishti Behl also went on to share that it's not data but the creator's belief that gets their projects approved. She said, "The idea is to understand that every person is looking out for different things on different days. We want to create content for every mood. At Netflix, we want to produce content that you like to watch. Also, we are very creator-driven.”

Revealing what attracts her the most when it comes to scripts, Behl said. “The one main thing is that the creator should pull you into the story. And it could be a producer, writer or director. We sometimes get the director married to a production house, and other times we help find the correct director. And since India is so used to filmmaking, we even have people come with a complete package with even the cast in mind. The importance is given to what you are trying to say with complete clarity. You should make me feel.”

Giving some interesting insights about the audience's choice, Srishti Behl Arya said, “Seventy per cent of the audience in India watches at least one film every week. We have an affinity for films and the number is actually much more than other markets. We believed that Upstarts, which was based on startups, would create a lot of curiosity among the young audience. However, the result was less than optimal. On the other hand, Drive, which got heavily criticised, has an incredible viewing on the platform.”

When the journalist asked Behl what keeps her awake, she smiled and said, “That I might miss a great film while I am sleeping. There's no doubt that it's a golden time for entertainment, especially if you are a creator. We Indians have always been storytellers. Our responsibility is that the right content reaches the right viewers. As for challenges, the biggest one right now is that we have too many stories to put on the service. It's a problem of many for us, which actually is a great problem.”

Rebutting the claim that Netflix looks for darker content, the studio head stated, “The beauty of our service is that it's not a reflection of method but completely depends on what you are watching. There's a plethora of options on the kind of choices you make. It's quite interesting when I am often told that someone has the perfect Netflix movie. I sit there curious to know what exactly is that (laughs). We have all kinds of genre and we believe in covering everything.”

As the session opened to the audience, asked Srishti Behl Arya about the importance of a popular cast for Netflix, given that it reaches a global market. She replied, “I think when we talk about anything that's global, we react to Indian icons. Our search is to find storytellers - some might have worked before, some haven't. As reference to our recent successes - Ghost Stories and Jamtara, it was agnostic of who was in it.”

Sharing that two out of three viewers for Sacred Games came from outside India, Behl gave more insights into the language part of content. “We do try to make content in the language the storytellers want to say it in. Every story has its own grammar. The essence of Jamtara compared to House Arrest is very different. We produce content how it needs to be told. There is audience that prefers dubs and some subs (subtitles). We have over 30 languages in the service and we indulge in a bit of both. Going forward, we also want to focus on adding dubs of regional content, so as to penetrate further. We are conscious of the fact that we want to be accessible to every audience."

On asked if they will also be looking at producing documentaries from India, she replied, “We are looking into that. Honestly, we have just gotten started. Since the service was around in different markets, we had a bulk of content already available when we launched. We do have a lot of unscripted content and documentaries coming along.”

Concluding the conversation, the moderator asked Srishti Behl Arya about the piece of content that she is most excited about. Not ready to give out many details, she said, “It's always the one that's coming around, or the last film that you signed up. In the coming year, we have a diverse list of titles. There's Yeh Ballet that's about two boys who take up the dance form, Guilty with Kiara Advani, Serious Men with Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Maska (stars Manisha Koirala) and tons of other stuff. The year is going to be amazing.”