With “Narcos” and “McMafia” riding high, a new Indian production company from renowned investigative journalist and crime writer Hussain Zaidi is looking to bring the next wave of true-crime-inspired TV drama to international screens. Zaidi (pictured, center) has teamed with Mumbai-based distributor GoQuest Media to launch Golden Pen, a new banner that will work up crime series for the global market.
Zaidi is a renowned writer on crime and notably the Mumbai mafia. His work has been cited by “McMafia” writer Misha Glenny, and his book “Black Friday” was adapted for the big screen.
Golden Pen’s founders told Variety they founded the shingle to create crime thrillers with an Indian dimension, but intended for the world. “It was driven by trends in the entertainment industry in terms of what type of content [is in demand], and where content is travelling,” said Vivek Lath, managing director, GoQuest (above, right). “The indications were clear; there was a large opportunity to focus on crime thrillers that can travel to international markets.”
“While the content will be local, we will ensure that the appeal will be universal,” added GoQuest partner Jaspinder Kang. “This is the right time to invest resources in developing high-quality content in the genre.”
Golden Pen team also want to partner with international producers and studios looking at India-originated crime stories, and feed in their on-the-ground expertise.
Zaidi said that journalists and crime writers working up scripted ideas based on real-life lend projects authenticity. The increasingly globalized nature of organized crime also means the subject matter has inbuilt appeal beyond Indian shores.
“And it’s not just organized crime but terror networks, the whole world is now a small village and things happen internationally,” he said. “It was important that we look at stories that might look local, but have international ramifications.”
The IP will be developed from the ground-up, rather than adaptations of Zaidi’s previously published work. “My years of experience engaging with the criminal world has left me with a wealth of untold stories,” he said. His publishing imprint with Penguin, Blue Salt, has nurtured a new generation of Indian crime writers and Zaidi added there is emerging Indian writing talent who “have developed a bank of absolutely dark yet vehemently true stories,” and which Golden Pen will tap into.
The fledgling producer will create the IP and partner with producers to develop and make the series. The initial slate comprises five projects, two of which will have an international backdrop. Others will focus on cross-border crime and policing. Lath said the first greenlights will come within months.