If hit ratio is a yardstick to measure the reach of a Youtube video, these are bright times for Telugu web series. The numbers, right from the time of Muddapappu Avakai , the first Telugu web-series to hit Youtube, are a testimony to people’s preference for the format.
So popular are they that eateries in the Bay Area, San Francisco that generally play Bollywood songs are now screening the popular web-series Fun Bucket each week. Though this reveals their increasing popularity, content leaves a lot to be desired.
Perhaps with an eye on young audience, content of recent web series tends to titillate rather than entertain audience.
Pranith Bramandapally, director of Muddapappu Avakai , feels that though the regional market has big potential, the format has a long way to go to match up to the standards of Hindi series. He opines that filmmakers need to make content that is centred on themes rather than place characters in a different situation in each episode. “Though we have the numbers, content will be more specific that way. That’s the best opportunity to raise curiosity about the next episode and build continuity,” he states. Concerns are also raised about the need to take up subjects that reflect the ethos of the Telugu-speaking community.
Filmmaker Aparna Malladi continues to receive equal measure of acclaim and brickbats for her web series Posh Poris that focuses on the travails of three women living together in an apartment in Hyderabad, despite no apparent vulgarity or explicit content. The series makes for a case against stereotyping of gender.
“People felt I was taking a wrong step in depicting the life of a Telugu-speaking girl. What I was trying to represent is the times we live in. The confidence of my producer, who gave me a free hand for the content, was a boost. The fact that we wrote the series first and are shooting it later helped. We didn’t tinker with the content for popularity,” Aparna states that her counterparts must exercise the freedom on the online space with more responsibility.
Sans certification necessities, there are a wide range of themes waiting to be explored through a web series.
Filmmakers also cite the lack of budgets (despite a proven track record) for the low quality of content. “If only online-channel owners are more open-minded and generous with budgets, content can get better,” reveals Harish Nagaraj, who directed the web-series Coffee Shop Love Stories .
One still can’t turn a blind eye to positives coming out from web series. For aspirants keen on making a feature film debut, web series are proving to be a testing ground , where an artiste gets enough time to showcase his/her command over the craft.
Actor Lavanya Dasetty, popular for her Mahathalli web-series, was seen in Chandrasekhar Yeleti’s Manamantha . The popularity of Posh Poris after her film debut Anushree Experiments , has landed Aparna Malladi a lot of offers to direct feature films. “Over time, most of my actors have got more work,” she says.
Even filmmakers like Tammareddy Bharadwaj are now producing web-series, which proves the appeal of the medium is indeed a work in progress but what it needs is more finesse and sophistication to score on longevity.
Muddapappu Avakai - 20 lakh hits per episode
Fun Bucket - 10 lakh hits per episode
Mahatalli Mahanubhavudu - 1.5 lakh hits per episode
Posh Poris - 5 lakh hits per episode