As India witnesses a boom in the video streaming sector, the latest entrant is a filmmaker and soon-to-debut actor Vikram Bhatt. Having already established a presence on digital media through web series like Maaya, Spotlight and Twisted, the director cum producer will be launching an OTT (over-the-top) app called VB Theatre soon.
The journey to the launch began a couple of years back, said Bhatt. Keeping tabs on the growing online content consumption, the director knew he had to mark his presence. The challenge, however, was to do so while competing with bigger players with deep pockets and better content and marketing tools.
“As I was walking down Oxford street in London one day, I saw this man, wearing a Roman toga with a sign for a restaurant. He was guiding people to the joint since it was a little further down, away from the main street. I realised that OTT is a similar situation. The apps are all in different corners of the internet which is like Oxford Street, and YouTube is the man wearing the Toga. YouTube is what will give you the presence to gather visibility,” explains Bhatt.
As a result, he began putting out his web series on YouTube and other platforms like VU. The director/producer’s YouTube channel, called VB on the Web, currently houses seven original web series, all produced under the banner Lone Ranger and has 575,000 subscribers since its launch last year.
“The new seasons will all be available on the app. It’s called VB Theatre because I want it to be a theatre on the go. People don’t mind paying money for one movie. So what I’ve done is make each series available individually, for the cost of a vada pav. Near my office, a vada pav costs Rs 18, so one season of a show on the app will cost Rs 18,” Bhatt says. Each season/series will be 12 to 15 episodes, each with a run time between 20 and 25 minutes.
The app will launch on January 27, with a new web series Untouchables as the tent-pole property on VB Theatre. Directed by his daughter Krishna Bhatt, the show stars Bhatt himself in the lead in what he jokingly calls a case of ‘reverse nepotism’.