Art & Entertainment

Streaming Magic: How Netflix Has Revived Films Like ‘Laapataa Ladies', ‘Fighter’ And More

Filmmakers Kiran Rao and Siddharth Anand talk about how streaming platforms have added on to the lifespan of their films ‘Laapataa Ladies' and ‘Fighter’ respectively.

Posters of ‘Laapataa Ladies', ‘Fighter’
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Kiran Rao’s directorial ‘Laapataa Ladies’ released theatrically on March 1, 2024 and was loved by the audience and the critics alike. However, when the film released on Netflix on April 26, fans went gaga over it, and the film certainly got a new lease of life. Starring fresh faces Pratibha Ratna, Sparsh Shrivastav, and Nitanshi Goel, ‘Laapataa Ladies’ remained at number 6 on the top 10 most viewed films in India, and spent over 6 weeks on this list. The women-led film even surpassed Sandeep Reddy Vanga's 'Animal' in terms of views on Netflix India.

Interestingly, the film trended for 8 consecutive weeks in the Top 10 India (Films) and 6 consecutive weeks in the Global Top 10 Films (Non-English) since its release on Netflix in countries like Bangladesh, UAE, Oman, and Malaysia. 

Kiran Rao On ‘Laapataa Ladies’ Photo: Instagram
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Certainly, streaming has reshaped the landscape of Indian cinema and democratised access to entertainment. OTT platforms have proven to be a game-changer for filmmakers and audiences. Talking about how Netflix revived her film for the audience, Kiran Rao told Outlook India exclusively, “Streamers like Netflix understand the power of diverse storytelling, regardless of geographical boundaries. This allows stories to travel and as a filmmaker, that's really heartening and liberating. ‘Laapataa Ladies’ has found so much love after its release on Netflix and it's just incredible to witness such a wide audience resonating with its message, sparking conversations and social media trends all over the world.”

Kiran further added that it's great that films have a much longer shelf life now. While theatrical releases create a communal experience, it cannot be ruled out that streaming adds on to the lifespan of the film. “It is beyond gratifying to see ‘Laapataa Ladies’ find so much love in theaters and then go on to find a whole new audience, becoming the living room conversation of households. The beautiful videos on the song “Sajni '' and renditions of scenes in different languages make my heart so full,” Kiran said. 

Nonetheless, the reactions to the film have been incredibly heartwarming, and fans could not help but resonate with the women of the film, and laud the performances of Chhaya Kadam, Nitanshi Goel, and Pratibha Ranta. The film got much love across social media as well, with fans appreciating certain scenes in the film. 

Meanwhile, not just ‘Laapataa Ladies’, another film that witnessed newfound stardom after its Netflix release has been ‘Fighter’. The film had its OTT release on Netflix on March 21. The aerial action film, starring Hrithik Roshan and Deepika Padukone, was released in theatres on January 25, 2024. After its OTT debut, the film saw an incredible love from audiences, and did trend for three weeks globally and reached the Top 10 Films (Non-English) in a staggering 34 countries. Despite the film getting released in theaters worldwide, the added exposure was only possible due to streaming. 

Poster of the film 'Fighter' Photo: Instagram
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Talking about how Netflix was a game changer for ‘Fighter’, its director Siddharth Anand exclusively told Outlook India, “The beauty of streaming lies in the convenience and choice it provides audiences to discover a story at their own pace and time.  Streaming platforms provide a unique opportunity for films to find entirely new audiences for a second time, far beyond the initial theatrical window. It's a win-win situation for both filmmakers and viewers, allowing stories to connect with and generate a wider fanbase.” ‘Fighter’ secured the #1 spot in India for 3 weeks.

When asked how the rise of streaming services like Netflix has altered his sense of filmmaking process and the film’s distribution, Siddharth Anand added, “I think as creators our process is not really defined by the medium, we always want to do complete justice to the story and tell it in the most authentic way possible. I have always been passionate about making wildly entertaining movies and that will never change. Now my films can be enjoyed in a packed theater as well as from the comfort of someone’s home, without compromising on quality. With streaming, filmmakers are getting a chance to be more innovative in the stories and themes they choose. They are more open to blending genres, creating unique visual styles, and exploring new storytelling techniques. This, along with the increased accessibility of global cinema has grown audience appetite exponentially, making great stories the ultimate hero of the film. I love recommendations that Netflix offers as a viewer and as a creator it helps a film to reach audiences who might not have actively sought it out, potentially sparking new interest in the genre or the director's work. That opportunity of discovery is boundless on Netflix.”

Kiran Rao seconds Siddharth Anand’s opinion about how OTT platforms have not only given newer audiences to the projects, but has also amped up a filmmaker’s creativity and their pursuit to tell innovative stories. She said, “I believe good stories are platform-agnostic and have the power to reach audiences. As a creator, my focus is on telling good stories, with strong narratives and compelling characters that have the potential to make an impact or start a conversation amongst the audiences.”

Other films which have been brought back to life on Netflix include ‘Crew’, ‘Shaitaan’, ‘Article 370’, ‘Animal’, and South films like ‘Salaar’ and ‘Hi Nanna’. Between May 27 to June 2, another female-led film, ‘Crew’ remained #1 on the top 10 most viewed films in India. ‘Crew’ and ‘Laapataa Ladies’ also  made it to Netflix's Global Top 10 list of most watched films (non-English) with Crew at #2 and 8,900,000 views and ‘Laapataa Ladies’ at #9 for over 6 weeks with 1,400,000 views. The female-led heist thriller ‘Crew’, starring Kareena Kapoor, Tabu and Kriti Sanon, trended for 4 weeks in the Global Top 10 (Films) (Non-English) in 41 countries. ‘Shaitaan’ has been trending for 7 consecutive weeks in the Top 10 India (Films) since its launch on Netflix. 

Photo: Instagram
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‘Animal’, which was a massive hit during its theatrical run as well, trended on Netflix for 17 consecutive weeks in Top 10 India (Films) since its OTT debut on January 26, 2024. As for ‘Article 370’, it trended 8 weeks in Top 10 India (Films) since its Netflix release on April 19, 2024 and secured the #1 spot in India for 1 week. 

To say the least, as a platform, Netflix ensures its films and series travel far and wide, be it female-driven stories like ‘Crew’, ‘Article 370’, and ‘Laapataa Ladies’, or stories from the South like ‘Salaar’ and ‘Hi Nanna’, or unique stories such as ‘Shaitaan’ and ‘Animal’. 

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'Salaar' Hindi OTT release Photo: Instagram
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Monika Shergill, Vice President, Content- Netflix India, exclusively told Outlook India that the streaming platform understands that each film is different and will find its audience. “Our recommendation engine, combined with the platform’s ability to personalize each title according to the member’s taste, allows us to reach multiple households. Through consistent efforts in dubbing and subtitling, we enable every film and series on Netflix to reach global audiences. For example, we observed our titles performing well in LATAM countries, which inspired us to dub Fighter in Spanish and Portuguese, allowing the film to penetrate these regions successfully. We pay close attention to details in the dubbing process and have seen great conversations around the quality of dubs, particularly our casting of Nakuul Mehta and Sumedh Shinde for the English dubs of Animal and Fighter,” Monika Shergill said. 

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Considering the praise that films like ‘Laapataa Ladies', ‘Fighter’, ‘Crew’ and more got on Netflix, it is certain that the streaming platforms have empowered audiences with the choice to discover content across genres, and look for unique stories, which in turn empowers creative possibilities for filmmakers.

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