Farzi: The Real Thing

03 Mar,2023



By Shailesh Kapoor


Shailesh KapoorIt’s not a major talking point yet, but the OTT Hindi fiction space may just have entered its second innings. Farzi, Amazon Prime Video’s recent launch, has amassed huge viewership numbers, and is almost certain to become the most-watched SVOD show in India across platforms by the end of next week, based on Ormax Media’s viewership estimates for OTT originals in India.


The success of Farzi marks the end of a lean period that started in mid-2022. The first half of that year saw a good mix of launches: Panchayat S2 proved to be a worthy successor to the delightful first season; Rudra received mixed audience response, but went on to get huge viewership, thanks to Disney+Hotstar’s sizeable subscription base and Ajay Devgn’s star value; Rocket Boys received immense appreciation, and was Sony LIV’s tentpole property for the year; Gehraiyaan delivered some solid numbers in the first week despite mixed to negative audience feedback; starting off as a low-profile film, A Thursday went on to become the most-watched direct-to-OTT film of the year; Human, The Great Indian Murder, Gullak S3 and Mai were fairly successful as well, especially for shows of their scale.


But then started a drought of sorts. The second half of 2022 just didn’t have enough firepower. Criminal Justice: Adhura Sach managed to build good viewership, perhaps aided by a staggered episode drop, but scored below the show’s previous (second) season on audience likeability. The same can be said for Delhi Crime S2, which lacked the relevance of the first season that focused on the landmark Nirbhaya case. Films like Monica, O My Darling and Darlings good positive reception, but the viewership levels were only moderate.


The lull continued till the launch of Farzi on Feb 9 this year. The show recorded a peak ‘Buzz’ of 45% on Ormax Stream Track, the highest since The Family Man S2 in June 2021, incidentally another show by Raj-DK, the creators of Farzi.


There were more than 150 SVOD originals that launched in Hindi in 2022. But clutter generally comes with its share of issues. In a year where the conversation moved back to theatrical content, the absence of truly marquee shows on streaming made one wonder if the honeymoon period that the streamers enjoyed, especially during the two pandemic year, is over.


Farzi can be called the start of a new phase in the Indian OTT originals market. The category is more mature and stable now, and one hopes that, like theatrical, it finds its equivalent of an “event film”. Six-eight “event shows” in a year will keep the category running strong. Farzi is 2023’s first, and one hopes the next one is round the corner.


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