Bollywood Biz : TVF And The Rise Of The Web Series

The youth in India has become distanced from local TV programming for a while now. There is a large disconnect between the television shows that are aired on Indian TV and their intended youth demographic. Which is why a lot of youngsters have gravitated to American TV shows.

However, with the advent of the internet and the low cost of publishing online, a parallel industry is growing in India, heralded by the likes of The Viral Fever, which focuses on quality content, a talented cast of actors and an amazing storyline which resonates with the youth. Corporate Citizen brings you the inspiring story of TVF and the Web Series in India

Unless you have been living under a rock, you must have heard of The Viral Fever, or TVF as they like to be called. It has a fascinating story behind its inception. It started with Arunabh Sinha, an IIT Kharagpur graduate who had a fascination for filmmaking. He came to Mumbai after graduation and decided that the entertainment industry was the career for him. He worked as an assistant director for, Om Shanti Om and Delhi Belly, where he honed his craft, while at the same time pitching ideas to TV channels for new shows. In 2009 Arunabh came up with a pilot for a show called Engineer’s Diary, and he approached MTV and other youth channels for it. Everyone liked the idea but the show was rejected. Arunabh said that whenever he went with a show concept to the decision makers, they used to say Indian audience is dumb, they won’t like it and they used to be really adamant in proving it and Arunabh was equally passionate in proving them wrong. However, without a big studio backing them and having no money of their own, there was not much talented storytellers like Arunabh could do.

By 2010, India had opened its arms to the internet. With the advent of You Tube and the rise of the social media, it became much easier for content creators like Arunabh to publish their content online and even easier for users to gain access to it. Thus TVF was born as a digital entertainment channel, that wanted to reach out to the generation of young, disillusioned viewers who were tired of the formulaic, out-of-sync TV shows which aired on national TV.

Around that time Arunabh did not have any money to even pay the rent, so there was no question of promoting the channel. His employee and current partner Amit Golani re-edited the first video ‘Qtiyapa’ and they uploaded it on You Tube. Within a couple of days it got around 17K-18K likes and it became the second most viewed video in entertainment category that week. Somehow the term ‘Qtiyapa’ became famous in IITs and NITs, and thus they knew they were doing something right.

The second video Rowdies was put up in the mid of February 2012, it got a million views in less than 5 days. What started off as an experiment quickly became a rage amongst the younger generation, and TVF became viral. The breakout show of the channel is The Pitchers, which stands for a group of youngsters start-up entrepreneurs pitching their idea to business houses.

This series by TVF, is by far the best series we’ve seen so far. Brilliantly written, edited and directed, this show which even has a killer soundtrack has us floored with its brilliance. It’s poignant, funny and actually understands the ethos of the urban Indian.

The show centers around four friends trying to establish a start up on their own. Currently holding a 9.6/10 rating, Pitchers is the 23rd most highly rated show in the world according to IMDb.

The breakout show of the channel is Pitchers. Currently holding a 9.6/10 rating, Pitchers is the 23rd most highly rated show in the world according to IMDb. Brilliantly written, edited and directed, the show is poignant, funny, and actually understands the ethos of the urban Indian

Another show TVF is most known for is ‘Permanent Roommates.’ This is written well, directed and acted romantic comedy that is truly unique and pleases immensely on many fronts and with many layers. It excellently blends emotion and humour to give an intriguing and fun insight into today’s modern relationships. It definitely transcends the current Indian cinematic blunders in this genre. According to Wikipedia, The series is (at the time of writing) the second most-viewed long-form web series in the world.

With a 1.2 billion population and an estimated 400 million people with access to smartphones, Web series are no longer catering to a niche demographic. India has the world’s largest youth population at 365 million, and it is an audience that mainstream TV is fast losing touch with. In the next half decade, channels channels like MTV and V, and deservedly so. Such is the growing popularity of You tube, that even Bollywood’s biggest studio Yashraj Films, have started a web only arm of their company called Y-Films, and has produced two shows- ‘Man’s World,’ and ‘Bang Baaja Baraat,’ the latter boasting of high production values and edgy content which has become a big hit amongst the youth.

With great web only channels such as TVF, AIB, ScoopWhoop and Hotstar, this is the best time to be a TV aficionado...all you need to change is the medium of watching, not lower your standards.

By Kalyani Sardesai