With viewers hungry for high-end quality content during the coronavirus lockdown, Eros International has launched its new web-show called ‘A Viral Wedding – Made in Lockdown’ on Eros Now.

Featuring Shreya Dhanwanthary and Amol Parashar in the lead, ‘A Viral Wedding’ is a lighthearted attempt to look at the consequences of an unprecedented lockdown. Since many couples are willing to take wedding vows on the planned date over postponing it, they are not hesitant to try the new idea of virtual wedding.

BizAsiaLive.com’s Raj Baddhan caught up with Ridhima Lulla, Chief Content Officer, Eros Group, about the innovative concept, as well as other aspects of the business.

Eros has been at the forefront when it comes to churning out high-end quality content and now during the lockdown, digital platforms like Eros Now are reaping from the rise of consumption online. How would you describe the subscribers response to Eros Now during this period?
In the era of social distancing and limiting exposure to the external world, consumers and viewers are turning to forms of digital entertainment and Eros Now is playing its part. We have seen an increase of 200% in paid subscribers on a daily basis and App Annie shows a 78% increase in daily traffic on the platform. We also launched a global campaign Eros Now #Staysafe campaign wherein consumers had access 2 months of free Eros Now subscription which was further promoted by influencers who created videos to help strengthen the Government’s efforts to curb the spread of the virus. We would like to wish health and safety of all in these uncertain times.

You’ve just launch original new show, ‘A Viral Wedding’, how did the concept of this come about?
As a platform and studio, we are constantly striving to find the most unique, entertaining, and safe means of connecting with our audience. ‘A Viral Wedding’ is one of Eros Now’s most recently released and innovative quickies, as it was the first series to be conceptualized, created, and executed completely during the lockdown. Helmed by the super talented and quirky Raj & DK, who created Stree, Family Man, and who we have collaborated with before on Go Goa Gone, there is a trust and belief in the team, concept, and the show. Written, starring, and directed by Shreya Dhanwanthary, she has brought to life a very real scenario, in a very original, charming manner that is relatable and has a big emotional connect with people all over the world. Imagine all the weddings that have had to be cancelled!?

Eros’ original new show – ‘A Viral Wedding’

The quick turnaround despite lack of resources during the lockdown is praiseworthy, how did you manage to do this, along with the stars filming their scenes?
As a team we were very excited about the idea and we wanted to present this unique show right during the lockdown period.

Sometimes the challenge was to get their reactions right and some scenes had to be reshot to match the audio and the lights. Overall we ensured that visually it all looked the same.

While the story was conceptualized and written during the early of days of lockdown, the preparation for the shoot took three to four days. All actors had to do detailed rehearsals which were then shared for the final shoot. Each of the actors shot within the confines of their homes and from different cities as well. The filming was done in 8-9 days in the first week of April and the post-production; editing and music etc. were all completed by end of April.

The actors prepared for their scenes, finalized their looks and their reactions to each scene. Sometimes the challenge was to get their reactions right and some scenes had to be reshot to match the audio and the lights. Overall we ensured that visually it all looked the same.

How do you think content production will change after the lockdown has been lifted and would you be doing things differently at Eros that may have worked well in this period?
We eventually believe that in the next couple of months as and when the lockdown is lifted in phases, people will be shooting in controlled environment sets, with the right level of hygiene, control, safety and distancing. This has already begun in several places with the correct precautions. Whilst physical production is currently at a halt, it has given us an opportunity to utilize our technological capabilities, and collaborate with our partners to re-invent how we create, and our observations are that there are no restrictions in the way we can tell stories. Creative industries which may seemed more insular have now opened doors for content creation and we are excited to be on the forefront of that by being early believers and propagators of multi-platform story telling.

The merger will also see co-production and co-financing Chinese as well as globally relevant content besides broadening Eros Now’s proposition with western content and driving global subscriber growth.

Eros recently announced its merger with STX – how excited are you about the next phase of the newly created company?
The merger creates the first truly independent media company that offers the best of both Bollywood and Hollywood in true sense. There are significant synergy opportunities between Eros and STX which focuses on content creation, distribution partnership as well as reducing overhead and our borrowing cost. Our emphasis would be on creating relevant content that has a global appeal and establish cross-over content partnerships with Indian and international creative talent. The merger also enables Indian talents to get recognized globally. The synergies also further help in enhancing and building our presence in the China market, which is an upcoming entertainment market. The merger will also see co-production and co-financing Chinese as well as globally relevant content besides broadening Eros Now’s proposition with western content and driving global subscriber growth. Furthermore, the combined company is expected to release close to 40 feature films in 2020 and more than 100 hours of original episodic content. Also, the OTT platform – Eros Now, will benefit from STX’s quality assets, develop international distribution in adjacent markets and create potential global stories that could be best told on an OTT service.

Can you give us an indication on the kind of shows we can expect over the next few months from the merger?
As a platform, we have a lot more exciting originals and films coming in the next few months, some highly anticipated content like Flesh, created by Siddharth Anand, starring Swara Bhaskar, and some surrounding our iconic IP such as Metro Park and Date Gone Wrong! With the Hollywood partnership, we believe we can create a premium tier of OTT, so Eros Now is our current OTT, by June we will also be launching something called Eros Now Prime which will be targeted towards the upper demographic. There, other than the STX content and premium content, we have also signed up a partnership with Comcast NBCUniversal and we will be taking their content. As a studio, we also have an exciting range of movies which we had planned to release year featuring actors such as Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and Rana Daggubati. They are movies that are completed or near completion. So we believe as and when this is lifted, we will have some really exciting movies coming out in multiple genres which will appeal to the audiences. We have a very exciting upcoming slate we are eager to announce, but we are first waiting for the regulatory approvals [for the merger], which should take four to six weeks. We expect to when announcing the closing we will also showcase the content slate for the next year at least. As a group we are excited to be investing in relatable, global stories.

‘A Viral Wedding – Made in Lockdown’ is available now to stream on Eros Now.