Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos revealed a continued investment push in the Indian market on Saturday.
In a freewheeling chat with Indian filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali in Mumbai to promote the latter’s upcoming Netflix series “Heeramandi,” Sarandos was bullish about India, repeating what he said on Friday to local media about the market’s growth. “India is the fastest growing Netflix market in the world this year and because of that, we’re able to continue to invest in great storytelling. And I think when you see ‘Heeramandi,’ you’re gonna see why it has been such the honor of a lifetime to work with Sanjay and to be able to bring this to screen. And you ain’t seen nothing yet,” Sarandos said.
Netflix debuted 28 Indian originals in 2022 and 100 so far since launching in the territory.
Addressing the Economic Times Global Business Summit on Friday, Sarandos had said that India would receive a larger share of the streamer’s $17 billion budget. “In India, we’ve had the best year of our existence,” Sarandos said. “Our content watching grew by 30% last year in India and our revenue grew by 25%.”
On his brief India visit, Sarandos also met with India’s information and broadcasting minister Anurag Thakur.
During the conversation, Sarandos likened Bhansali to Baz Luhrmann, who created Netflix show “The Get Down.” “I’ve read comparisons to Baz Luhrmann with you and I’ve worked with Baz – the experience has been very similar, which is it’s not style over substance it’s style and substance, and to deliver both of those things in equal measure on screen is so hard to do, and it’s a very rare breed of creators who could do that,” Sarandos told Bhansali during the on-stage conversation.
Bhansali recalled meeting Sarandos in Los Angeles while he was visiting to pitch “Heeramandi” and was equally fulsome in his praise. “I saw the most powerful man in the entertainment industry today was simple, so warm and so casual and made me feel at home. And I said, this is what power is all about. He knows how to nurture an artist, how to give him the respect for him, to get the best off of him,” Bhansali said.
Bhansali, a filmmaker known for his grand cinematic vision, had a box office and streaming success with “Gangubai Kathiawadi” in 2022. The film, which premiered at the Berlinale, was one of Netflix’s most-watched non-English titles of 2022.
“Heeramandi” a period piece set in Lahore during pre-partition India, explores the inner and outer lives of a group of courtesans. Bhansali described it as his biggest project yet and something that was born out of his own broken heart. The cast reunites the filmmaker with Manisha Koirala, who starred in his debut feature “Khamoshi” (1996), and also includes Aditi Rao Hydari and Sonakshi Sinha.