Bollywood actor Shreyas Talpade launches world’s first OTT platform, Nine Rasa, dedicated to theatre and performing arts

Covid 19 pandemic and the lock down wreaked havoc on the entertainment sector. The cinema industry, theatres and performing arts were the worst hit as the movie halls, stage shows and public performances were cancelled immediately after the lock down was announced. Well, soon digital OTT platforms and music streaming platforms took over space. Viewers slowly shifted to binge-watch movies and TV shows through around 40 odd over-the-top (OTT) platforms. Major productions released their movies on OTT platforms in the past few months. However, theatre and performing arts were still out of the picture. There were hardly any digital venues for the segment. But not anymore.  

 Nine Rasa, a dedicated OTT platform for theatre and performing arts has been launched on April 9 by Bollywood actor and theatre artist Shreyas Talpade. The first-ever OTT arena dedicated to theatre and performing arts, Nine Rasa, aims to re-ignite the offline theatre experience through the digital platform. The platform offers content in multiple variations including plays, skits, storytelling, stand-up across genres. The platform is available in multiple languages, including Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati and English and plans to regularly introduce other languages to match the preferences of every audience set. 

Bringing theatre online

Amongst the well-established OTT platforms like Amazon Prime, Netflix and Hotstar, Talpade’s ‘Nine Rasa’ is an Indian creation that has come up with a new concept. “I wanted to bring back the rich culture of our theatre that has become a bygone thing with the introduction of TV sets and now, smartphones. People no longer bother to go out and watch theatres as they become busy with their lives. I thought if OTT is the new trend for movies and series, why not add theatre too!”, said the actor in an interview. With this initiative, the actor also hopes to financially back up the theatre fraternity. 

‘Nine Rasa’ is a marriage of old hobby and new technology. The long-lost trend being revived is good news for theatre lovers. There are many veteran actors and theatre artists; not to miss out on a lot of fresh faces and new talents. Be it a dramatic story of traumatic experiences faced by old parents (Pashmina) or the comedy of errors between a classy guy and a desi girl (The two of us ), ‘Nine Rasa’ has content for all types of audience. The platform currently has more than hours of pre-created original content.

Digital concerns

While ‘Nine Rasa’ is getting tremendous applause from notable theatre artists and directors, the possibility of the platform to showcase half-bit modernism is a cause of concern. The traditionalism of the theatre having a live audience to watch, be it on stage or in temples might be compromised against this cutting-edge technology. Theatre director Abhilash Pillai says, “It is a wonderful initiative. However, theatre is not just about the camera. It is much more. When there is a live audience sitting in front of a play, they have the freedom to look at any part of the performer’s body, be it their lips uttering dialogues, hand gestures or eyes. This is not possible when it comes to a camera capturing a particular action and showing it to the OTT audience.”

Filmmaker, dancer and actor Rukshana Tabassum says, “There is altogether a different divinity while both performing and watching live. This experience is so electrifying that theatre lovers would resume going once the situation is back to normal. Also, the energy that an artist experience in front of an enthusiastic audience will enrich the quality of performance. It is incomparable to what it feels like doing for the camera.”

There are 25 shows in all till now in Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati and English. “We are planning to add more content and languages like Bengali and Malayalam in the coming months”, says the actor who chose World Theatre Day for the announcement of his new venture. With this initiative, many theatre enthusiasts look forward to live streaming of the acts that would call for a real theatre experience. Nine Rasa is available for download on Google as well as on Apple Play Stores


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