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Last Updated 13.06.2024 | 11:19 PM IST
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EXCLUSIVE: Goldie Behl talks about launching an audio stories platform, Rose Pod; is excited with Rs. 500 crore success of Pathaan, Gadar 2, Jawan, Animal: “We are NO LONGER pretending to make cinema just from Versova to Bandra and actually making cinema for all of India”

en Bollywood News EXCLUSIVE: Goldie Behl talks about launching an audio stories platform, Rose Pod; is excited with Rs. 500 crore success of Pathaan, Gadar 2, Jawan, Animal: “We are NO LONGER pretending to make cinema just from Versova to Bandra and actually making cinema for all of India”

Goldie Behl started his career by making movies. Soon, his company Rose Audio Visuals began making TV shows and also dabbled into OTT. And now, they have launched Rose Pod, a platform for audio stories and podcasts. The vertical was launched in December and already has 6 successful shows across diverse genres. In an exclusive interview with Bollywood Hungama, Goldie Behl talks about Rose Pod, changing patterns on OTT, future plans and a lot more.

EXCLUSIVE: Goldie Behl talks about launching an audio stories platform, Rose Pod; is excited with Rs. 500 crore success of Pathaan, Gadar 2, Jawan, Animal: “We are NO LONGER pretending to make cinema just from Versova to Bandra and actually making cinema for all of India”

EXCLUSIVE: Goldie Behl talks about launching an audio stories platform, Rose Pod; is excited with Rs. 500 crore success of Pathaan, Gadar 2, Jawan, Animal: “We are NO LONGER pretending to make cinema just from Versova to Bandra and actually making cinema for all of India”

What made you jump into the world of audio stories with Rose Pod?
Ours is a media content company. We started with films followed by TV shows on GECs. We also had a good run on OTT and we continue to do that. And it was a natural progression to move into the audio streaming world. India is the third largest podcast listening market in the world and we are not taking it too seriously. I personally consume a lot of audiobooks and audio podcasts. I realized that if I am doing that, a big chunk of the audience in India is also doing the same. Also, post-pandemic, the content consumption pattern has changed. People like to consume content in different ways. Hence, we decided to diversify into this market.

How did you get the name Rose Pod?
It’s a part of Rose Audio Visuals. The word ‘pod’ is obviously derived from the word ‘podcast’. It fell into place beautifully with the word ‘Rose’. In the next five years, you’ll see a lot of growth happening in this sector.

As per studies, audio streaming marketing will grow by $2.5 billion by the end of the decade. When it came to OTT, we could literally see its growth in front of our eyes. Also, the metrics came into play and claims like ‘our show got millions of streams’ or ‘our film got millions of viewing hours’ kept these ventures in the news. Such metric-related news is never heard for podcasts. Why is it so and why doesn’t this market get talked about?
There are metrics involved here as well. A few of our shows are getting a great response. We are targeting audiences that don’t necessarily afford to stream video content. This is a big chunk of the audience that wants entertainment while they carry on with their day-to-day work. You could be working in your shop or cooking etc. while listening to audio content. The shows are not really long; it’s just 10-12 minutes per episode. The stories are also told to a target audience in the Hindi belt. There are more than 50 platforms that stream our content. It’s like a whole underworld of stuff happening that we, sitting in our air-conditioned offices, are not aware of. Some people run out of data in the afternoon. So, what do they consume? Those who buy daily packs, what is their source of entertainment? When you stream audio, you don’t consume too much data. And you can tell some interesting stories through this medium. It’s a great way to reach out to a wider audience.

Then, we are also reaching out to a slightly evolved and more mature audience who are listening to English and non-fiction podcasts. For them, we are putting together experts from different fields who are talking and interacting with other guests. So, we are targeting the audience at the higher as well as lower end. Everyone in the middle is mostly consuming video content. The former listens to audio out of choice while the latter listens to it out of choice and necessity.

In other words, even in this market, one needs to cater to the multiplex and single screen audience or masses as well as classes for better reach…
(Smiles) Exactly.

7 shows are out on Rose Pod. How many more are in the pipeline?
We are looking at a round figure of 100 shows. We aim to create our IP in fiction and non-fiction audiobooks. We have picked up (rights of) a lot of Hindi books which have not been converted into audio series. We have regional books’ rights, which have not been widely read as people don’t have the time or ability to read. I, myself, have gone through a lot of books because I can hear them now. 100 is an ambitious figure but we should be reaching there by the end of this year.

Often, we see film stars lending their voices for audio shows. You haven’t done that yet though you know many of them closely. Weren’t you ever tempted to reach out to them?
I had to be price-conscious and production-conscious. Our shows cater to a certain audience and it has to be within a certain budget. And there are plenty of good actors performing in audio as well. Obviously, a big name tracks but I didn’t find any need to do so at the moment. Anyway, opening ke baad toh sab picturein ek jaisi hi hoti hai! I’d rather focus on content and bring out more material because this is a high-volume business.

You dabbled in films, TV, web and now audio. What drove you to try newer avenues? Weren’t you worried since there’s always a risk involved in such moves…
As a company, we believe in resilience and transformation. We have to be resilient with newer ideas and transform ourselves to the changing tastes of the audience. I don’t see it as a risk. I see it as an attempt to move with the times and be relevant. Either you make a big-budget blockbuster or you constantly move ahead with technology or times or with people who are telling stories in a different way.

Do you notice any change in consumption patterns on OTT in 2023-24 vis-à-vis 2020?
Definitely, from a fascination, it has now become a regular habit. There have been dropouts of the number of people who have once again gotten busy with their lives. Theatrical is also coming back with some good content, which I am really happy about. When things become regular and a part of life, there’s obviously stability. Hence, the OTT world has become much more realistic, which I am also happy about because I’ve always believed in delivering cost-effective content. I’ll deliver high-concept shows that are mid-sized and that too with accurate timelines. So, that bubble has already faded away. The gold rush may be over but the actual hard work starts now!

Is it more difficult now to pitch a show to streaming giants as compared to the period when the pandemic began?
It’s still the same for us. Nothing much has changed because I never made Rs. 100 crores shows. I never even wanted to do that. I have had my share of flagship projects in cinema and TV. I have understood the pros and cons of it. We are in a world now which is far more realistic and things are doable. On our part, we try to give as refreshing content as possible.

Rohan Sippy directed your recent web show, Duranga 2. It marked the coming together of two film families…
He also directed Mithya for us. We’ve been great friends since childhood. He’s modern in his working style and has a contemporary mind. He easily adapts and it is easy to work with him as a showrunner as well. I also collaborated with Ken Ghosh recently. He also understands the medium very well. We are working with Suparn Varma, an interesting Marathi director named Nipun Dharmadhikari, etc. The idea is to work with directors who are realistic about their approach and understand how content needs to be made for a certain audience and budget.

Any plans to direct a film again? It’s been almost 16 years since your last directorial debut…
I am not averse to it but I am enjoying this process. It’s very important to have fun with what you are doing. I am not saying ‘No’ for anything. We will do films soon. If we start conceptualizing now, it might take another 2-3 years to come out. I have done cinema all my life. So, I know how the theatrical world works. I am happy with the content that is being made now because it is far more approachable for me. I know that the current pattern is working better than what was going on in the last 10-15 years. We just need to crack the approach that we managed to do for audio and OTT. We are also getting back to daily soaps. There’s a lot of stuff happening, in short and no movies at the moment though we have an eye on it.

Both your directorial films were ahead of their time. Bas Itna Sa Khwaab Hai (2001) talked about the dark world of media. We didn’t understand it then. Also, it was partly set in rural India and came before the small-town wave hit Bollywood. Drona (2008), meanwhile, a superhero flick, was released much before the audience accepted this genre of films with open arms. In today’s times, I am sure you would have given it an IMAX release and also a 3D version. Your thoughts?
That’s very kind of you but films should be relevant in their time. It’s just a polite way of saying that your movie didn’t work. I don’t believe in it. If it was the right time for that movie, it would have worked then. If I thought of the concepts at that time, then obviously it was the time to think of it (and make the film). Obviously, I missed connecting with my audience. For me, the audience is God. We make content for them. If they don’t accept it, we should be humble enough to accept it.

Another trend right now is to collaborate with South industry members and make a Pan-India film. Would you be interested in making such a movie?
We are looking at the Tamil and Telugu markets for our audio stories only. We are not planning any Pan-Indian movies at the moment.

Finally, what do you have to say about the way Bollywood made a solid comeback in 2023 and the way Pathaan, Gadar 2, Jawan and Animal entered the Rs. 500 crore club?
It's a great sign that we're finally making movies not just for a select audience but rather for the entire country - the larger heartland. There's much more connect with the audience, which is a good sign and a great way of moving forward. We are no longer pretending to make cinema just from Versova to Bandra and actually making cinema for all of India.

Also Read: EXCLUSIVE: Producer Goldie Behl on casting Drashti Dhami and Gulshan Devaiah in Duranga: ‘They both have pushed each other to come out with new shades of their personalities’

More Pages: Gadar 2 Box Office Collection , Gadar 2 Movie Review


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