In an effort to establish a greater presence in one of the world's fastest-growing entertainment and streaming sectors, Walt Disney Co. is now creating a series based on the ancient Indian epic "Mahabharata."
The "Mahabharata" will be retold in 2024, according to Gaurav Banerjee, head of programming at Disney+ Hotstar, the company's Indian digital platform, who was speaking during the three-day D23 spectacular event held by the media behemoth in California's Anaheim Convention Center.
As streaming platforms come under increasing pressure from investors to demonstrate their ability to break a negative trend in subscriber growth affecting Netflix Inc., Disney is hoping that the longest poem ever written — with 200,000 verses in its unabridged edition — will strike gold in India.
A surprising TV sensation in India during the Covid-19 outbreak was a rebroadcast of the "Ramayana," an old story that, like the "Mahabharata," is essential to Hinduism.
One of the most well-liked genres on Indian television has always been mythology, according to Mihir Shah, vice president of the consultancy Media Partners Asia, who is located in Mumbai. He claimed that the decision to put Mahabharata on Disney+ Hotstar was an attempt to carry this success over to the world of online streaming.
The "Mahabharata" is nearly ten times longer than both the "Iliad" and the "Odyssey" put together, making it a formidable challenge for any filmmaker. The "Ramayana," the shorter of the two works, was acted out over 78 episodes in the 1980s. One of India's most popular directors and SS Rajamouli, known for his signature action-packed epics, revealed to Bloomberg News earlier this year that he was preparing to someday take on a film adaptation of the "Mahabharata."
Disney is the most popular of the three big overseas streaming services in India, with just around 60 million customers. Although Disney lost the rights to digitally broadcast tournaments earlier this year to a partnership of Hollywood studio Paramount Global and Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd., live streaming of cricket, India's national passion, has been a major driver of that expansion.
Disney set a lofty goal two years ago to sign up 260 million customers by the fiscal year 2024, but many analysts are now dubious that it will be achieved. The business now anticipates between 135 million and 165 million "core" Disney+ subscribers, and as many as 80 million consumers for Disney+ Hotstar in India by then, or a maximum of 245 million, according to Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy's investor presentation from last month.