BH CORRESPONDENT, Kolkata: With cinema theatres still shut, it goes without saying that OTT subscription and viewing hours have increased exponentially during the COVID-19 pandemic. And in the Bengali market, Hoichoi has been the market leader ever since the inception in 2017. And in its fourth year, Hoichoi has gone for a complete makeover, be it in content, technology or distribution. The founders also revealed that Hoichoi now has 13 million cumulative subscribers with 40% of its direct revenue coming from international customers.
In fact, not a dozen but 25 web series were announced on Friday by the co-founders of Hoichoi along with two ‘First Day First Show’ films and four ‘World Digital Premiere Movies to be released on the OTT after their theatrical release with an initial lineup of Dracula Sir, Kakababur Protyaborton, Prem Tame and Golondaaj. The first look of all the web series were also unveiled.
Hoichoi is getting grand in the fouth year because the legendary Soumitra Chatterjee is entering the digital platform as a drug lord. Rudranil Ghosh creates Ganga, a drug trading tale.
And you know, the revamp is special when A-list makers like Srijit Mukherji, Dhrubo Banerjee and Kamaleswar Mukherji make their big digital debut on Hoichoi. Yes, we all know Srijit is all set to make his debut digital with Feluda Pherot, but on Hoichoi, he is ready to adapt Md. Nazim Uddin’s celebrated work Robindronath Ekhane Kawkhono Khete Aashenni. It is about a detective, who reaches a popular restaurant of the same name to uncover the truth behind its mysterious owner, Muskaan Zuberi. And we all know Srijit’s track record with thrillers.
Anirban Bhattacharya returns as the ever favourite sleuth Byomkesh Bakshi in the sixth season of the popular series. And this time, we have cinematographer-turned-director Soumik Haldar helming the project. The story: Magna Mainak. Part 1 of Tansener Tanpura is a hit and Vikram Chatterjee and Rupsa return with the second part in Diwali.
Hello is Hoichoi’s one of the most successful products and the audiences can’t get enough of Raima Sen and Priyanka Sarkar in the series. And now, the third season is coming with a new male protagonist.
Mainak Bhaumik is all about relationships, and if this time he told us about Breakup Story, next Valentine’s Day, he will tell us Makeup Story. Also, he is ready with one more unconventional relationship drama and this time he goes one step further to explore the intimacy with Lolita.
When Sahana Dutta wrote the story of Tasher Ghawr, we loved it. And now, she is turning producer with Mohomaya. This also marks the debut of Chander Pahar maker Kamaleswar Mukherjee as a director on the web platform. Need we say more.
Eken Babu is always fun and Hoichoi returns with season 4 of Eken Babu, who will solve another crime in the exotic Rajbari at Murshidabad in his signature style.
Then, there is a new property ‘Hoichoi World Classics’, under which the OTT platform will be bringing literary adaptations of classic plays and stories from around the world. It starts with Mandaar, based on Macbeth and marks Anirban Bhattacharya’s first series as a creator. Then there are more series like Intuition, which marks the debut of Soham and Srabanti on OTT, Gora with Ritwik Chakraborty as a detective, Bhalo Thakish Baba, Chowringhee, Taqdeer, Shei Je Holud Pakhi 2, Laal Maati and Money Honey 2.
Mahendra Soni, co-founder of SVF & Hoichoi said, “In 2017, when we launched Hoichoi, our biggest motivation was to be able to tell great stories, work with fresh talent and reach out to a bigger Bengali diaspora around the world. We have also released over 60 Original shows – that’s an average of almost two shows every single month from the time we launched. We have worked with some of the most prominent creators from Bangladesh and have curated movies and produced shows created by local talent. Hoichoi’s upcoming year will be our biggest step forward in telling impactful, differentiated stories.”
Tired of seeing men as detectives, then it’s time to break the stereotypes with Damayanti. A professor of history, a hacker, Damayanti played by the beautiful Tuhina is married but her passion lies in cracking psychological cases. Hoichoi’s most-loved series Charitraheen returns with third season and this time, the fiery Swastika Mukherjee plays the lead alongside Saurav Das. Deboloy Bhattacharya will direct the series.
Debaloy will once again take charge of Devdas O Ekti Khuner Golpo, but this time, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s work has been given a twist. The cast includes Arjun Chakraborty, Raima Sen and Madhumita. What happens when Duryodhan returns in 2021 to take revenge? The mystery will be unveiled in Mahabharat Murders, an adaptation of the best-selling book The Mahabharat Murders by Arnab Ray. When Q adapts Thakumar Jhuli, the famous Bengali folklore in his own style, we know it’s ought to be different. Bonyo Premer Golpo returns for season 2 in which crime of passion meets crime of desire. The story deals with the murky world of mental asylum! Arjun Chakraborty joins Tnusree for this gruesome thriller. Montu Pilot aka Saurav Das will be seen portraying the role of a man who believes he is dead in Rahasya Romancho Series, Season 3. Two ‘First Day First Show’ films – Kolkata Underground by Parambrata Chattopadhyay and Tiktiki by Dhrubo Banerjee were also announced.
Vishnu Mohta, co-founder of Hoichoi, said “In March when the world went into lockdown, we realised that it was now more important than ever that we continue to entertain our audience. Today, as the world starts to open up and we look forward for year four of Hoichoi, I am really excited about the shows and films we have planned which I believe comprise our best content lineup so far. In addition, our partnerships with Jio Fiber and leading telecom companies in Middle East and Bangladesh will bring us closer to our customers and provide convenient ways to pay for Hoichoi. All this sets us up for our next phase of growth taking us closer to our vision of entertaining people in their own local language.”
The founders also revealed on Friday its new UI/UX design and said they are in the process of recreating its apps and website by adopting the newest technology and tools available to further enhance the experience of customers on the platform. Vishnu said a “Parental Control” feature will soon be added following Hoichoi is becoming one of the 15 OTT platforms who have signed up for a self-regulation code under IAMAI.
The founders also announced that they have subscribers from over 100 countries including Japan, Sweden, Argentina, Iceland and more. They also announced Carrier Billing – an affordable way to consume Hoichoi in the form of sachet pricing so that users can buy a Hoichoi subscription for a week or a month by paying with their mobile balance. This will soon be available for users in Bangladesh and Middle East.