Vijaya Laxmi Tripura
The entertainment industry in every country – including Hollywood is suffering hugely due to the Covid-19 pandemic, while Hollywood was forced to postpone the release of at least three dozen high-budget movies fearing financial loss. Meanwhile, several cine production companies in the West, especially in the US and Britain are releasing new movies on video streaming services, video-on-demand, or virtual theater, while none are showing interest in releasing movies on actual theatre. According to the entertainment industry report, by now, over 460 films have already been released since mid-March 2020 on various OTT (Over The Top) platforms, and the exciting news is – in most cases, those films haven’t faced financial loss though could not earn expected revenue which would be possible if the world wasn’t under the disgusting calamity of the pandemic.
In India, Bollywood or Tamil-Telegu film industries are on virtual ‘lockdown’ as the theaters are shut-down to avoid further transmission of the Covid-19. India already is badly affected by the pandemic and, according to economists, there might be at least a 2-3 year-long extreme economic depression in the country, which would certainly affect the entertainment industry unless they switch from real theaters to online platforms.
The condition of the entertainment industry or showbiz circle in Bangladesh has not also been at all bright. Instead, the country’s film industry in particular is almost on the verge of total collapse, while the TV drama industry is also witnessing extreme challenges, mostly because of a huge decrease in sponsorship and advertisements that is essential for running content either on the television channels or on the OTT platforms.
In Bangladesh, OTT platforms are yet to be either popular or prominent. Country’s drama production companies are mostly dependent on Indian OTT platforms such as Zee5, HoiChoi, AddaTimes etc. But problem is – most of these Indian companies are extremely bad paymasters. Few of them, such as AddaTimes have already earned the bad reputation of being unable to pay the providers of contents, while in the Bangladeshi showbiz circuit, AddaTimes is already branded as bankrupt. The second problem is – most of the Bangladeshi content providers selling content to Indian OTT platforms are not doing this through official channels. In most cases, financial transactions are through unofficial or illegal channels, which may in course of time turn into a huge issue both for the Bangladeshi content providers as well as Indian OTT platform owners.
Despite such adversities – a Bangladeshi production company has been rather increasing its volume of production of drama, TV serials, special-length films, and musical films defying the warning from the industry insiders of incurring huge financial loss.
Crown Entertainment, the Bangladesh drama production company, which started its journey in January this year has already emerged as the leader in the industry with hundreds of dramas already aired while a large number of dramas and TV serials under production.
Currently, Crown Entertainment, with the marketing cooperation of Crown Creations has been running a weekly chunk on the popular Bangla Vision channel every Tuesday. The company began airing single-episode dramas on this chunk in November this year and by now a number of Bangla dramas produced by Crown Entertainment and aired on the Bangla Vision channel have received excellent response from the audience. This has brought a great advantage for the company is selling its YouTube rights to several local channels including CD Choice, SoundTek etc. It is learned from Crown Entertainment source the company now is working on its planning for the next year.
Tajul Islam, Deputy CEO of Crown Entertainment told this correspondent that the company has several projects in the pipeline, which include few more weekly chunks on other private television channels as well as at least five mega-serials, which would be aired 3-5 days a week on different TV channels.
Justifying the reason behind Crown Entertainment’s taking high-risk by investing hugely during the pandemic period Tajul Islam said: “The pandemic showed-up within weeks of our company had started its journey. Practically we lost almost four months, from February to June, due to the pandemic and lockdown, where our planned projects were either halted or went through various challenges. At the same time, most of the artists and technicians in the industry were either unwilling or scared working taking the risk of coronavirus transmission. We had to work hard in convincing all of them in returning to work. Finally, they did listen to our requests and the drama industry resumed its regular operations from October this year.
Mr. Islam said, with over 30 private television channels in Bangladesh, alongside several OTT platforms, there is substantial demand for quality dramas and TV serials. Moreover, YouTube-based channels are also emerging fast as another huge platform for selling dramas.
Syed Iqbal, COO of Crown Creations, a company mainly engaged in the marketing of dramas and TV serials as well as buying chunks in the TV channels is particularly satisfied at the achievement of targets of the company since it began its journey in January this year. He said, “There is substantial demand for single-episode dramas and TV serials in the country. The only issue here is providing good quality content with popular casting. Since March this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, getting schedules from the popular artists in particular became a bit tough. But our company is gradually overcoming this issue and thanks to the team of makers who are associated with our company, for their sincere support.
He said, Crown Creations and Crown Entertainment have been jointly working on a number of big projects for 2021, where Crown’s productions will be seen in most of the leading television channels.
Syed Iqbal said, “Many of the industry-insiders were pessimistic of Crown Entertainment’s aggressive plans during the pandemic, as many of the production houses had halted their activities fearing financial loss. But, thanks to Allah, we have finally been able to succeed from the crisis and also it was a great learning for our entire team.
Commenting on the reason behind the success of Crown Entertainment, Md Shahid Hossain, Chief Executive Officer of Factor Three Solutions said: “During the worst days of the pandemic, Crown has taken maximum risk by continuing its activities and even by expanding. My company (Factor Three Solutions) have been working with Crown Entertainment for the last few months and – with my experience of many years, I do believe – Crown is going to successfully widen its activities in 2021”.
It may be mentioned here that, Factor Three Solutions has also been producing dramas and entertainment content for several television channels in Bangladesh for many years. The company has also been active during the pandemic.