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Dubbed content will only grow from here, says Dollywood Play co-founder Aneesh Dev

Dollywood Play is an OTT platform specially dedicated to Hindi dubbed content.

Suyog Zore

The Indian audience is consuming more dubbed content than ever before. Hindi content consumption has grown a record 94% year-over-year compared to just 19% for English content. The millions of views for South Indian films dubbed into Hindi on YouTube are a testament to this.

Seizing this opportunity, Vineet Dhawan and Aneesh Dev launched Dollywood Play, a dedicated OTT platform for South Indian and Hollywood movies that are dubbed into Hindi. In an exclusive conversation with Cinestaan, Aneesh Dev, co-founder and director of Dollywood Play, talked about the ever-growing demand for Hindi dubbed content, the type of content available on the platform and future plans to tie up with international studios to obtain dubbing rights.

Nowadays, South Indian filmed dubbed in Hindi are shown on TV 24x7, and many such films are available for viewing on YouTube for free. How does Dollywood Play, a paid subscription service, stand out in this oversaturated market?

On the contrary, I believe the market has just started tapping the true potential of dubbed content. Dubbed content in India started around 20-25 years ago with cartoons being dubbed into Hindi. Since the past decade or so we are seeing South Indian films dubbed in Hindi being regularly telecasted on TV channels.

As far as the availability of dubbed films on Youtube is concerned, I think it's actually beneficial for us. Because of YouTube, those films are reaching a wider audience, and now even people from tier-2 and tier-3 cities are also watching those films. It is actually helping generate more interest in dubbed content, which will eventually help us. Now with the advent of OTT platforms, we are seeing how Spanish, German, Arabic and Korean shows are being dubbed into English and cross-country languages, which proves that people are ready to watch dubbed content. In fact, our distributed content is already generating four billion minutes of watch-time per month, which is a huge number. More than 50% of Indians are watching content online regularly and that number will only increase because, in the future, bandwidth will get cheaper and more people will have access to the Internet. This proves that there is still a lot of untapped potential in dubbed content, and the content consumption will only increase from here.

What kind of content is available on Dollywood Play? Will you be also looking to dub English shows?

Currently, we are focusing on dubbing South Indian and Hollywood films in Hindi. And in the second phase of our growth, we are talking to some major International studios to get the dubbing rights of foreign shows. We are researching what kind of international content Indian audiences would prefer to watch in Hindi. It's important to learn the taste of the audience before catering to them. For now, we know that South Indian dubbed films and Hollywood action-oriented films, horror films and erotic thrillers have a huge market in India. But we are researching other genres and their reach and popularity in India. Once we accumulate the data, we will cater to the audience according to its taste.

Will you be censoring international content keeping in mind the Indian audience's sensibilities?

As far as censorship is concerned, it's the audience who decides what they want to watch. On OTT platforms, the audience has full control over what they are watching. You also have to take into account that the audience is paying for the content they are watching, which means they are mature enough to understand its impact and repercussions. 

Are you also planning to dub content into other regional languages or you are only focused on Hindi?

Right now we are only focusing on Hindi because it is the most spoken language in India. Hindi has the largest market for any dubbed content in India. Once we establish our footprint in Hindi, we might also try dubbing in other regional languages. Not only English but also shows from all over the world in various languages will be available to stream on their platform. We are looking to import content from all the countries such as France, Germany, Korea and many others. All the international content that suits the Indian audience's tastes will be dubbed into Hindi.

Dollywood Play was conceptualized to target movie fans in the Hindi heartland of India. Although we now have 4G and Wi-Fi service providers in metro cities, In tier-2 or tier 3-cities, the situation is not as great. How do you plan to expand the reach of your OTT platform in these cities? 

You will be happy to know that Internet connectivity has improved majorly in tier-2 and tier-3 cities. As per the latest data, maximum growth in online content consumption is in these cities. The Internet is not a scarce commodity in India anymore. That challenge was there 4-5 years ago but now one can say India is Wi-Fied. The Internet has reached the heartland of India. In the next 2-3 years, you will see all of India gaining access to super-speed Internet connectivity.