“If there is censorship, we will adhere to it as per government norms. But there should be a guarantee that after this the content will not be pulled down or questioned.” There is not any lack of readability when it comes to censorship for Vibhu Agarwal, CEO and founding father of the Ullu, among the many new OTT apps which have been pushing the envelope on what will be proven through these platforms.
Although all OTT platforms and information web sites now come underneath the ambit of the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry, there isn’t any legislation or autonomous physique that governs their content material. The controversy surrounding current reveals like Tandav and Mirzapur has prompted the federal government to have a look at new methods to reign in this content material.
“In India if the government imposes censorship laws, it will be in place not just for me but for everyone,” causes Agarwal in an interview with Indianexpress.com. “There is a big difference between censorship terms in movies 15 years back and today. On OTT platforms we get a certain liberty to express creativity and people enjoying watching it,” he stated.
Agarwal is in favour of censorship, however is uncertain that it will silence these demanding it. He cites the case of the current Tanishq commercial. “There was nothing vulgar or violent about it but yet there was a ruckus.”
Introduced in 2018, the homegrown OTT platform Ullu is understood for its daring and edgy content material. While its net sequence are primarily focused at Tier 2 and three viewers, Ullu has been focused for selling erotica and “vulgarity” in its reveals.
“Why did they see it in the first place and why are they speaking about it?” Agarwal questions the “hypocrisy” of individuals. He asks why there isn’t any criticism when there are comparable scenes in films of massive stars.
Agarwal says reveals like Kavita Bhabhi and Charmsukh Jane Anjane Mein are the preferred on its platform. “People have given positive comments and have demanded that we create such content and keep continuing it,” he says.
AltBalaji and Ullu’s success has proven that there’s a marketplace for “erotic” content material in India and different OTT gamers too try to money in on it. While some might model reveals like Ullu’s Charmsukh Jane Anjane Mein or Alt Balaji’s Gandii Baat as soft-porn, Agarwal highlights: “We don’t have any kind of nudity in our content. If someone wants to watch nudity, why would they watch it on OTT platforms?”
But there’s the danger on somebody who’s showing on a present being related to content material that’s extra hardcore. “There are so many actors working that doing a background check is difficult,” Agarwal says. “If an actor has worked with us a year ago and we know a lot can change over the course of that year.”
“Our system is such that we do not do any production in-house, we outsource all our work. People create the work and give it to us. If we like it, they propose the location, costumes, side actors, lead actors etc,” he explains the method of how a undertaking will get a greenlight from Ullu’s inventive group.
“We don’t take auditions. They tell us their requirements; we take a look test as a soft copy so we know the acting skills. That’s important to check the intensity of the actor. Post that we fix a budget, they shoot it and give it back to us, we do a QC and we take the film. This is how we work,” he explains.
Although Agarwal refused to reveal the energetic subscriber base of his app, he stated it has clocked 28 million downloads throughout Android, iOS and Fire TV platforms. Quite a lot of these got here throughout the Covid-19 lockdown interval, as Agarwal’s Ullu app achieved a progress of 220 per cent. “All that was on offer has been consumed by the audiences.”
Agarwal is effectively conscious of the picture of Ullu app in folks’s minds, and does need to go beyond the desi-erotica style quickly. “So far, we have gone in just one direction. About a year back, we realised that we need a mix of content,” he says.
But the transfer to introduce ‘regular content’ hasn’t gone down too effectively with customers. In December, Ullu had launched Peshawar starring Rajeev Sen, the youthful brother of Sushmita Sen. The present was primarily based on the assault on a military faculty in Peshawar that left over 140 faculty kids lifeless in 2014. “It was a flop; it was clean content with no abusive language,” he says.
However, Agarwal says he’ll proceed to make investments in content material that can deliver a broad group of paying customers. Also, his budgets have gone up and he’s now prepared to fund reveals in the Rs 5 crore to Rs 10 crore bracket to get higher artistes and units that sync with the storyline. Previously, the reveals have been in the Rs 2 crore to Rs 5 vary.
The 2.0 model of Ullu will look beyond higher content material and in addition enhance the app expertise. The newest model of the app has a ‘censor’ filter to let customers select the kind of content material they need to see. If you determine to watch the censored model, all of the intimate scenes might be edited. The consuming and smoking scenes, nevertheless, will seem with applicable disclaimers.
Even although the streaming app has a mass following in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, Agarwal says he has seen elevated viewership and progress coming from West Bengal in current months. Because the viewers are actually unfold pan-India, the Ullu content material will be watched in a number of languages, together with Tamil, Telugu, Bhojpuri and English. “The South Indian market is really picking up,” he stated. According to Agarwal, Kannada and Malayalam audiences choose to watch their content material in English.
Despite the Ullu app being closely focused on the tier-2 and tier-2 cities, Agarwal says the subscriber base consists of customers from tier-1 cities too who pay to watch content material on the app. This is an indication that the style the place Ullu excels isn’t restricted to rural components of India as many have a tendency to consider.
Another fantasy related to the content material proven on the Ullu app is that the characters and tales resonate extra with males than females. Agarwal says 60 per cent of Ullu customers are males and the remaining 40 per cent are females. A yr in the past, earlier than the pandemic, the ratio was 80:20.