HOICHOI FOUNDER VISHNU MOHTA INTERVIEW: FOCUS ON CONTENT OVER COMPETITION
In the era of binge-watching, a huge competition has started on the small screen with every medium opening its own streaming site. Bengali streaming site Hoichoi has been one of the first Bengali OTT platforms with a vast library of films hailing from the works of Satyajit Ray, Ritwick Ghatak, to Swapan Saha. Along with it, there have been online websites such as Letsott.com, which has aimed to be an aggregator in the streaming space besides being an information portal on everything concerning OTT platforms.
During an exclusive conversation with LetsOtt.com, Founder of Hoichoi Vishnu Mohta expressed his fondness for associating the company. “So LetsOTT reviews online based films and movies right? And plans to be an aggregator of content available on digital platforms?,” he paused for a while and then said, “We are always happy to work with as many partners as required.
This can be a discussion that can be taken over by our team, and we are happy to discuss something that gets more distribution.” It was at the age of 27 when he had joined the parent company of HoiChoi, Sri Venkatesh Films as the head of Digital Cinema business. Soon it went on to dominate the entertainment arena in Bengal and soon became popular in other parts of India. It was in 2017 when HoiChoi started leading in the Bengali online community, but a few years later, Addatimes, Zee5 too started creating Bengali content, thereby posing as a competition for Hoichoi.
Although Addatimes just started making its way in the realm of the internet, it has already produced a few offbeat web-series, which although have been slightly taken from western ideas, nevertheless they have managed to shine with the right dosage of Indian behaviour. We asked him that amidst the rise of such content, how is he planning to keep HoiChoi in the first position. “We have been in this business for 25 years, we have the biggest catalogue of films, you might have heard of the parent company SVF, so we are by far the biggest producer here. We have all the latest films.
From our end, we attempt to release at least two original shows a month and since we are so busy with that, I don’t think too much about our competition. HoiChoi even has music streaming channels on the same platform, and this channel is more about market creation than the competition. We are trying to create an ecosystem because we are so far ahead in the race,” he told LetsOtt.com. Vishnu Mohta takes a special kind of pride in working for content, with content by content. The Bengali streaming platform has been a place where aspiring directors, actors, editors have had a chance to showcase their challenge without the fear of being neglected for their lack of stardom.
Discussing the entire nepotism debate, he said, ‘I think you have noticed that we don’t launch star kids, or work only with stars, you can’t say that about Hoichoi. We always start with a story in mind. Everything starts with an idea or a story, then we figure out what can be the right team for that idea, to execute that idea it could be any actor, any director or any crew member, who can do justice to the story and we accordingly take our call. I think the web medium is more story-driven and not star cast driven.” Various online streaming networks, such as Amazon Prime Videos, Zee5, Netflix have thoroughly engaged themselves with artists who have a connection with the art, rather than a family tie.
While Hoichoi can take a lot of appreciation for their efforts to look at cast and crew members beyond their lineage, there have been glitches that have acted as a hindrance. Various content on Hoichoi does not release on the said date and time and when we inquired Mohta about it, he initially denied having any such issues but agreed that sometimes they halt it to reach perfection with their brainchild. “It might have two or three cases it might get delayed by one day or half a day. You see, content is such a thing that needs to be right, the voice over, the dubbing, and we are in the entertainment business and we release two originals every month.
What happens at times is that some part of that eco-system does not work out and technology has its own share of challenges and you work with so many partners. We also try to release the shows earlier than the said date and time, and that becomes a surprise for the audience. The glitch might have happened a couple of times, I won’t deny that, but it’s not that frequent,” he told LetsOtt.com.