SonyLIV will launch a host of original shows in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam over the coming months, the streaming platform announced at an event on Saturday in Mumbai. These include an Indian remake of the Israeli production Fauda, a biographical show on the counterfeiter Abdul Karim Telgi and a Tamil series on the piracy group TamilRockerz.
Among the filmmakers with whom the platform will be working are Pa Ranjith, Karthik Subbaraj, Hansal Mehta, Ashwini Iyer Tiwary, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Balaji Mohan, Sudhir Mishra, Nikkhil Advani, Nila Madhab Panda and Venkat Prabhu. SonyLIV also announced the second seasons of Avrodh (which will be premiered on June 24), Rocket Boys and the Huma Qureshi-led Maharani.
Tanaav, the Fauda remake, will be directed by Sudhir Mishra and Sachin Krishn. The cast includes Manav Vij, Sumit Kaul, Rajat Kapoor, Shashank Arora, Arbaaz Khan and Waluscha De Sousa.
The synopsis: “Set against the idyllic backdrop of Kashmir in the year 2017, Tanaav tells the story of a Special Unit, their bravery and courage. Delving into the human drama behind the ideologies, dealing with complex emotions and flawed characters, all of whom share the same feelings of love, loss, betrayal and revenge, Tanaav is a socio-political action drama with family at its core.”
TamilRockerz, the piracy group that is the bane of filmmakers, is the subject of a series of the same name. Eeram director Arivazhagan directs Arun Vijay in a show whose synopsis is: “When the notorious piracy group, Tamilrockerz publicly announce their plan to leak the massively budgeted and highly anticipated, ‘GARUDA’, ‘Athiradi Star’ Adithya’s next movie, a special team headed by Rudra, a cop with a scarred past, must fight against time, unruly fans, and an anonymous network of cyber pirates to secure the movie.”
The Tamil shows include Meme Boys, created by Rajiv Rajaram and Drishya Gautam. Guru Somasundaram, Badava Gopi, Aadhitya Bhaskar, Siddharth Babu, Jayanth, Namritha and Nikhil Nair are among the actors in a show about “four unassuming college kids [who] run an anonymous meme page that takes on their oppressive college administration one joke at a time, accidentally starting a college-wide revolution”, according to a press release.
Scam 2003: The Telgi Story, directed by Hansal Mehta and Tushar Hiranandani and based on Sanjay Singh’s Reporter Ki Diary, stars Gagan Dev Riar as the counterfeiter who orchestrated a stamp paper scam running into crores.
Freedom at Midnight, directed by Nikkhil Advani and based on the book by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins, explores the events that led to Independence in 1947. The comedy series Dr Arora, about a travelling sex consultant and directed by Sajid Ali and Archit Kumar, stars Kumud Mishra, Vivek Mushran, Ajitesh Gupta, Vidya Malvade, Sandeepa Dhar and Shekhar Suman.
Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s Faadu, written by Saumya Joshi, stars Saiyami Kher and Pavail Gulati in “a unique, intense poetic love story between two different thinking characters”, according to a press release. Onir’s Pulwama Key No 1026 is based on Rahul Pandita’s The Lover Boy of Bahawalpur. The synopsis: “The series is a tribute to all those martyrs whose dreams were blown to smithereens the minute the suicide bomber’s car hit the bus.”
In Tamil filmmaker Karthik Subbaraj’s Kaiyum Kalavum, “a series of serendipitous events bring together a compulsive thief and an unlucky pickpocket inching closer to being in love with every act of theft they commit”. Victim is an anthology series with contributions by Pa Ranjith, Venkat Prabhu, Chimbudeven and Rajesh M. The cast includes Amala Paul, Priya Bhavani Shankar, Guru Somasundaram, Lizzie Anton, Prasanna, Nataraja Subramanian, Thambi Ramaiah, Kalaiarasan Harikrishnan and Nasser.
Soumik Sen (Jazz City ’71 – Fight for Language), Sudhir Mishra (Jehanabad – Jail Break and Heart Break and Children of Freedom), Vikas Bahl (Good Bad Girl), Rahul Dholakia (India’s First Election), Manish Hariprasad (Main Sahir Hoon), Cheran Pandian (Journey), Balaji Mohan (Accidental Farmer & Co) and Arun Prakash (Iru Dhruvam 2) are among the filmmakers who have original series lined up at SonyLIV.
The announcement was preceded by a discussion in Mumbai that was moderated by Rajeev Masand and attended by Hansal Mehta, Nikkhil Advani, Rana Daggubati, Sameer Nair, Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari and Danish Khan, Head of SonyLIV, Sony Entertainment Television & StudioNext.
“When Scam 1992 came, we were a small app, and had the ability to pull in audiences, so people could see our first episode and subscribe,” Khan said, according to a press statement. “When Rocket Boys released, we found that 50% of the audience came from the south. Such is the power of OTT and its reach.”
Mehta and Iyer Tiwari praised the long format, saying it gave filmmakers greater freedom to develop plotlines and character arcs. “A creator is not limited by the confines of a formula,” Mehta said. “You are liberated to try new things and work with an ideal cast. Although it is time-consuming, it has freed me.”
According to Daggubati, original series helped creators “tell our stories locally, things that are unique to us, and can make the world sit up and take notice”.