ZEE5 goes bold with Sunny Leone’s story; to up Originals to 90+ by March 2019

Growing its bouquet of original shows, ZEE5, the OTT platform from the Zee Group, is all set to launch its latest web-series – ‘Karenjit Kaur – The untold story of Sunny Leone’. The series premieres on July 16, 2018 and will be available in Bengali, Tamil, Telugu and Marathi languages. 

Filling the gap between reel life and real-life, ‘Karenjit Kaur – The untold story of Sunny Leone’ captures the journey of Sunny, born as Karenjit Kaur in a middle-class Sikh family, and her makeover from being an innocent girl to an adult film actress and eventually a Bollywood sensation. 

The series comes on the back of acclaimed web-series such as Naseeruddin Shah-starrer ‘Zero Kms’ and popular ones such as ‘The Story’, ‘Life Sahi Hai 2’ and ‘Babbar ka Tabbar’. 

Commenting on the launch, Tarun Katial, CEO, ZEE5 India, said, “It has been always been our endeavour to proffer viewers a platform that offers content which is bold, edgy and stirs emotions. While our past shows have ticked several boxes for us in getting the right product, ‘Karenjit Kaur’ is a perfect blend of all of those and more. The Ormax Media & Dragonfly Research gave us insights that there has been a lot of interest in knowing the real story of Sunny, and we are confident that this series will present the viewers her real journey. Karenjit’s story is one that will resonate across the country that we, as ZEE5, have made strong inroads into. This is evident from the massive interest the motion poster and trailers enjoyed when launched. The motion poster of the series garnered more than 9 million views in just a week, and the trailer broke the internet by garnering 20 million views in just three days of going live.” 

“Six months of operations – this has been a very exciting journey for us at ZEE5. And during this time, we have been constantly reinventing ourselves based on viewer experience and feedback,” he added. 

Speaking at the launch, Sunny Leone commented, “This is the first time I am telling my story on my own terms. And I am so thrilled by the warm response that the series has received so far. Reliving some of my life’s moments has been a very emotionally draining experience for me, and I am very thankful for the support of my real-life and reel-life family through all of this. This is a very special endeavour for me, and I hope this will enjoy your love and support as I have in the past years.” 

ZEE5’s push for Originals 

Since the launch in February, ZEE5 has been focused on bringing Original content across languages. The platform has curated 10-20 minutes on-the-go and quick-natured content across genres such as Thriller, Drama, Action, Comedy, Satire, Biopics and Reality – in keeping with the preferences of the audience. 

In the first six months itself, the platform has been able to garner a few firsts too – Nasseruddin Shah’s web-series debut with ‘Zero Kms’, bringing an Akshay Kumar-starrer straight-to-web with ‘Padman’s debut on the platform, as well as hardcore theatre and big screen personalities making their OTT platform debut on ZEE5. 

ZEE5 has a slew of Original content lined up, which will feature some of the biggest and most entertaining faces from the world of Indian entertainment. The platform will have 90+ Original shows across languages by the end of March 2019. 

To bring their audience this seamless experience, the platform has partnered with the best in the business: Axinom for Content Management System, Think Design that created the design language of UI/UX, Tata Elxsi that breathed life in the design in the form of web and app. The app’s CDN is managed by Akamai, Tata CDN and AWS Cloudfront. A unique feature in this adaptive experience is that Conviva, a leading player globally, directs viewers to one of the best CDN service providers based on the quality of their service at the viewer’s location at that moment ensuring they never have to compromise on video quality. 

“We are not justifying or glorifying, but just being honest” 

Speaking to Adgully on the risk element connected to a project like ‘Karenjit Kaur’, Katial said, “I think the risk is to be able to tell the story right, because people have a lot of expectations and something like this has never been tried. It’s very challenging and unique in equal parts. So yes, that’s the risk, whether you get the right team and do the story well.” 

Given that Sunny Leone is globally famous, the show’s appeal will be huge. Katial insisted that the series will tell Sunny’s story as it is. “We are not justifying or glorifying, but just being honest. We are not victimising the character like it was said earlier, this is not a victim story,” he emphasized, while at the same time maintaining that it would be “clutter-breaking” and that’s how ZEE5 wants it to be. 

While agreeing that there is a certain amount of polarisation attached to a series like ‘Karenjit Kaur’, Katial affirmed, “We will always try to reconfigure and surprise our audiences.” 

Speaking about forthcoming launches from ZEE5, Katial said, “We almost launch every month.” 

He added, “We are big in the language market, but are mass Indian in appeal. We want to top that bracket – things that appeal to the deepest parts of this country.” “Regional is the root of our platform,” he stressed. At the same time, he said that it was important for any product to be differentiated and unique, however, ZEE5 was not looking to find a niche. 

While speaking on the viewers, Katial noted that the Indian viewers’ tastes have evolved over a period of time and they are looking for something that surprises them. “The kind of films that the Indian consumer is watching, be it Indian or Hollywood, is far different from what they saw five years ago and every five years, no, every three years actually, the consumers change their viewing habits,” he remarked. 

Along with the viewers, the OTT market in India itself is evolving. “Though the market is in the early stages of growth and everybody will find their own place in the next 18-24 months,” Katial noted. 

When asked how ZEE5 plans to market its content over a period of time, Katial replied, “Each show will have its own unique selling point and we will use the large language appeal. The access to a large consumer base always helps.”

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