For an Indian Squid Game Success Story

Ahit show for Netflix across 90 markets is a Korean thriller serial, Squid Game. The remarkable part of the success is that the original storyline had failed to find favour with assorted Korean producers, since 2008. Then, it took the fancy of a Netflix producer, who saw potential in the show, dubbed it in 13 languages and released it in 90 markets. An unusual Korean show has attained global success, through an American streaming platform that took it to more countries in one week than a conventional movie release format could have reached in years.

There is plenty of scope for talented audiovisual storytellers in India to create their own Squid Game success stories, making use of the talent-scouting capabilities and global reach of major streaming platforms. And there is scope for Indian streaming platforms to reach global audiences, as well, fuelled by venture capital. Culture is a vital, complex export. Ever since the British introduced English studies in India — the first time English studies were introduced anywhere in the world — to serve the same role for Indians that Greek and Latin had performed for Europeans for ages, that of civilising the natives, Indians have been major importers of culture.

From Shakespeare, James Bond and the Beatles to the hegemonic charms of Oxbridge, Indians are hooked to many cultural imports from Britain. Film and music have been cultural exports from India, along with yoga and assorted forms of faux spirituality. Some have regional reach, some others, global. Made-for-streaming serials must be recognised as a major genre of audiovisual storytelling that has all the potential of cinema, without its normal time constraint, aided by the increasing size and sophistication of the screens onto which shows are streamed.

Those with compelling stories to tell, with themes that have a universal resonance even if presented in the assorted idioms of diverse India, they, too, could win global glory. Squid Game tells a dystopian tale, but its global success points to possibilities of hope and achievement.


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