Regional audiences relate more to videos with vernacular twang

Chennai, April 23 (IANS) The relatability to any English video with a vernacular twang will help appeal to regional audiences, says Sameer Pitalwalla, CEO and co-founder of digital entertainment company Culture Machine.

The company has recently launched a brand new channel called Put Chutney, a new digital video brand that will present south Indian stories with a satirical edge. Their first video “What if Batman was from Chennai” is already a viral hit.

“‘What If Batman Was From Chennai’ was in English with a hint of Tamil. The moment you add a vernacular flavour to any video, the relatability jumps up a few notches with regional audiences.

“And regional audiences are not just Indians residing in the south, they are across the world – they are people who have roots back in South India,” Pitalwalla, who also wants to explore the idea of creating Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam specific videos as well, told IANS.

“What If Batman Was From Chennai” gave a satirical glimpse into the life of Batman. This video captured a day in the life of Batman/Bruceothaman Waynekataraman from Batmanabhapuram as he experiences sore throat, meeting marriage prospects and his very first speeding ticket.

The idea behind the video was born from a meme that was created by its writer.

“The potential virality of any video depends on the novelty of the idea. With the ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy, Batman has now evolved from being a campy hero into a crime fighting vigilante. So we thought – why not take a south Indian boy and put him in the shoes of a superhero? The writer of this video, Balakumaran, had this idea as a meme that he created a while back. And it had a lot of potential to be made into a video,” Pitalwalla said.

“There is more novelty in taking a Hollywood franchise and Indianising it rather than with an Indian character. And we kept the idea simple – portray the life of an ordinary south Indian boy. The superhero image and subtle movie references were just a layer over it – and that made all the difference,” he said.

Released online nearly two weeks ago, the Batman video has over 1,900,000 views.

Put Chutney plans to create eight videos a month.

“We intend to explore various genres – from parody to spoof, interviews, short documentaries, voice of the people and also create weekly series videos on the lines of ‘Saturday Night Live’. We want to give our subscribers something to look forward to, every single week,” said Pitalwalla, who hopes to have celebrity attraction in future videos as well.

Veteran Tamil actor Delhi Ganesh played Alfred in the Batman video.

“We are reaching out to various celebrities to feature in our videos. Having said that, we are treading this path as carefully as possible. Stars are incredibly busy people. They need to see value in their being in the video. So we’re consciously writing content that fits the persona of the celebrity we intend to tie up with, which is very essential,” he said, and added they don’t want random plug-ins with celebrities.

While there isn’t much content in the digital entertainment space with southern flavour, Pitalwalla believes south Indians make up for that with short films.

“In the last few years, aspiring directors have taken the route of creating short films for consumption on Youtube and that has proved to be a great launchpad for them. Many of them have now turned commercial directors in mainstream cinema,” he said, adding Put Chutney will deliver light hearted south side stories on a regular basis.