Today when we discuss Marathi entertainment, it is impossible to do so without mentioning one name- Akshay Bardapurkar.
If you trace Bardapurkar’s journey, it is not surprising that he is synonymous with the regional entertainment industry of Maharashtra today. The man built a sprawling, successful entertainment empire, ‘Planet Marathi’ right amid a shy, modest industry in a short period. Bardapurkar’s ambitiously brave, original and larger-than-life ventures have changed the face of Marathi entertainment forever. His announcement of an impressive 10-film content line-up is directly in line with his visionary approach. For an industry which releases a minuscule number of films every year, this is a rare feat for a single banner.
With regional cinemas claiming their power and rising to run head to head with mainstream cinema, why has the Marathi industry lagged? South Indian Cinema is a living example of the prowess of regional industries, only if the industries invest in their content and give it a powerful stage. It is the responsibility of regional stakeholders to consistently build a powerful, commanding stage fit for every project.
In the Marathi industry, there have been prominent names like Ritesh Deshmukh and Sharad Kelkar among others who have pushed boundaries for Marathi cinema. However, largely the investment is sparse since the profitability is not as attractive as other mainstream industries. The question here is, will a regional industry get a chance to be profitable if never given a stage?
Championing The Cause Of The Marathi Regional Industry
Bardapurkar plays an instrumental role here. He has been and continues to be the mastermind behind well-orchestrated, organised and consistent efforts to break the cycle and give Marathi content the stage it rightfully deserves. To date, he has been successful and can be rightfully counted among the pioneers of Modern Marathi Entertainment.
When asked about his unflinching faith he said “What do we not have that other regional cinemas and Bollywood has? We have the stories, we have the talent. What we lack is the conviction to go big and bet high on ourselves. This is what I aim to change. I believe Marathi entertainment deserves not only a pan-India but global viewership.”
The Ambitious Content-Lineup
Bardapurkar’s 10 films will see Indian Cinema's biggest, brightest and most promising filmmakers create an enviable, blockbuster content slate, each in their unique style. Reportedly, he is leaving no stone unturned in ensuring each piece gets its glory- right from the story, talent and brand building. His vision to work with the greatest minds in the business looks like a sure-shot way of attracting the right kind of attention to this industry.
In the recent past, his grand showcases including the superhit ‘Chandramukhi’ a musical period magnum opus gave the industry a cinematic gem to take pride in. The film introduced Marathi Cinema to the language of powerful star value, brand building and promotional efforts. His latest ‘Raanbaazaar’, a Planet Marathi OTT web series broke the mould with its brave approach and amassed viewership from across 7 countries. Following Bardapurkar’s trajectory, he has risen to be among the most prominent personalities, stakeholders can bank on.
Global Stage For Marathi Content
One of Bardapurkar’s most iconic landmark initiatives will always be giving India its first and only exclusively dedicated Marathi OTT platform, Planet Marathi OTT. With the explosion of OTT, there was great scope for regional content to find newer audiences and break into newer markets. However, the scope of growth was largely in the hands of gatekeepers, who curated this content for audience consumption.
Bardapurkar made it his mission to champion the efforts for a dedicated OTT for the Marathi regional industry and he emerged gloriously successful in this endeavour. He founded Planet Marathi OTT, a premium Marathi OTT platform streaming a vast library of content across the globe. According to the platform’s recent announcements, it boasts of a massive viewership which includes non-Marathi language speakers as well. With back-to-back announcements of original web content, the OTT platform seems like it's growing at an unstoppable pace.
The Bigger Picture
Bardapurkar’s unflinching consistency and the organised corporate approach he brings to the industry have played a huge role in solidifying his stature in the fraternity. He is credited with having on board the best minds in business both inside and outside entertainment, as well as dedicated teams for every function of ‘Planet Marathi’.
“We are only getting started. Our vision is to be counted among big-league content players. Content today is not a closed space nor are audiences limited in their preferences. This is the best time for regional industries like us to fire up and give a stellar performance” shared Bardapurkar. The faith he has invested has given industry stakeholders a reason to believe in a larger vision. This vision only keeps growing, with each passing day. How does he manage to be actively involved in pushing boundaries juggling multiple, large projects at a time? When asked about it, he nonchalantly shares “I am on the job 24x7. My projects supercharge me and I choose not to stop”