By Ahmed Rahma
A multinational technology company, Amazon, is set to produce its first Hindi-language movie which will feature Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar.
A statement by the tech giant on Wednesday disclosed that India’s highest-paid actor will take the lead role in the movie titled Ram Setu, which will be released in cinemas before its streaming debut on Amazon Prime Video.
“I look forward to telling the story of a significant part of Indian heritage, especially for the youth,” said Kumar, the highest-paid Indian actor in the world according to Forbes’ 2020 rankings.
“I am happy that, with Amazon Prime Video, the story will cut across geographies and strike a chord with viewers across the world.”
Amazon, Bollywood and Indian Politicians
Amazon, which has already bet big on India with its core e-commerce business, recently ruffled feathers when it was forced to issue an apology for Tandav, a drama streamed on Prime.
Politicians from India’s ruling party called for the show to be banned for “deliberately mocking Hindu gods” and disrespecting religious sentiments.
Streaming TV services are not subject to the country’s notoriously fussy censor boards, which regularly cut scenes from movies shown in cinemas and on television.
But under contentious new guidelines announced last month, streaming platforms will soon be forced to withdraw content deemed objectionable 36 hours after a complaint.
According to reports, the commotion over Tandav and the new rules are already prompting production firms to tone down programmes they are making, or even drop them.
During his visit to India last year, Amazon founder, Mr Jeff Bezos, told an audience of Bollywood filmmakers that while Prime Video was doing well in all geographies, “there’s nowhere it’s doing better than in India”.
No release date yet for the new film
Amazon has not announced a release date for Ram Setu, which refers to Adam’s Bridge, a chain of shoals off southeastern India that was built by an army of monkey warriors, according to Hindu mythology.
Global streaming platforms, including Netflix, Amazon and Disney’s Hotstar, have expanded their presence in the country of 1.3 billion in recent years, including by commissioning local productions featuring Bollywood stars.
Ecobank Nigeria to Host Photography, Art, Design Exhibition
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
As part of activities to commemorate this year’s World Photography Day slated for Friday, August 19, Ecobank Nigeria will host a Photography, Arts and Design Exhibition (PADE).
The 3-day event themed A Canvas for Africa’s Creatives will hold at the state-of-the-art head office complex of the bank, Ecobank Pan African Centre (EPAC), on Ozumba Mbadiwe, Victoria Island from Friday, August 19 to Sunday, August 21, 2022.
The Head of Marketing and Corporate Communications of Ecobank Nigeria, Mr Jide Sipe, explained in a statement that the exhibition was conceived by the financial institution to help showcase the brilliance of Nigerian creatives to the world.
He further stated that the exhibition is part of the bank’s current strategy as a pan-African bank to sustain its legacy as a foremost supporter of the creative industry in the country, noting that it provides a platform for harnessing and powering the creativity of the African continent.
The event, which he said is open for members of the public to attend for free, will witness an assemblage of creative influencers in photography, visual arts, vocal and dramatic arts, and designs, adding that there will also be digital engagement ideas for creatives, photography contest and draws on social media, amongst others.
“At the event, we expect portrait photographers, event photographers, landscape photo artists and basically everyone with lenses to capture moments and frame memories in time.
“We also expect creative influencers in visual arts such as painters, calligraphers, cartoonists, make-up artists and basically everyone good with a brush or pen. In attendance too will be spoken word poets, influencers, videographers and basically everyone who can compose a distinct audio-visual reality.
“We are in contact with architects, interior designers, graphic designers and basically everyone who enjoys bringing abstractions to life. There will also be side attractions, including games, photo booths, performances, VR station for kids, and 3D virtual art displays,” he said.
Mr Sipe further called on all creatives and influencers to do short videos introducing and showcasing themselves on social media.
“We will have a contest where people would take pictures or paint a notable Nigerian landmark and share their inspiration with us.
“Participants must hashtag their photos or paintings with #Padebyecobank to participate. There will also be a raffle draw on social media to determine who wins the free family photoshoot during the exhibition. This is open to people who attend the exhibition. It is a total package,”
Prime Video Intensifies Efforts to Cut Market Share of Netflix, Others in Nigeria
By Adedapo Adesanya
Global streaming service, Amazon’s Prime Video, has increased its investment in Nigeria with customers now able to sign up for the streaming service in the local currency, Nigerian Naira, a move that will see it compete with Netflix and other competitors in the Nigerian market.
The news comes as Prime Video’s first local marketing campaign for Nigeria launches with the announcement of two Local Amazon Originals for Nigerian customers, Gangs of Lagos and LOL: Last One Laughing Naija.
In a release, it said for N2,300 per month, customers in Nigeria can sign up for a Prime Video membership at PrimeVideo.com and enjoy a great selection of entertainment, including global Amazon Original movies and TV series, popular Hollywood titles, exclusive Nollywood movies, and local Nigerian originals coming soon.
Prime Video members can also stream and download and watch anytime, anywhere through the Prime Video app on compatible mobile devices, tablets, Smart TVs, or online at PrimeVideo.com.
Customers can also control the amount of data they use by selecting Good, Better, or Best streaming quality, or downloading on their mobile device for offline viewing later.
Speaking on the foray into the Nigerian market, Mr Josh McIvor, director of International Expansion, Prime Video said, “We’re delighted to be increasing our investment in Prime Video for customers in Nigeria, making it a truly localised experience.
“From local payment and a full-scale local marketing campaign to more local content specifically for Nigerian customers, our investment in Nigeria is a significant step towards our broader expansion plans in Africa and our ambition to be the most local of global streaming services.”
Adding her input, Mrs Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu, head of Nigerian Originals, Prime Video said, “We know our customers want to see locally relevant faces, places, and stories alongside our global content on Prime Video, so we’re excited to be bringing Nigerian customers these brand-new Local Amazon Originals, Gangs of Lagos and LOL: Last One Laughing Naija, which will complement our growing selection of Nollywood and African series and movies.
“The news signals our continued commitment to the Nigerian TV and Film industry, bringing the very best of authentic, homegrown stories to not only our customers in Nigeria but also Prime Video members around the world.”
Prime Video noted that both local productions build on recent film deals made by the service including an exclusive commissioning slate deal with Nemsia Films for three feature films, beginning with Breath of Life, launching next year.
Other exclusive licensing agreements include deals with leading Nigerian production studios Inkblot Studios and Anthill Studios, bringing Prime Video customers exclusive access to their movies after theatrical releases, such as box-office hit King of Thieves, Superstar, Progressive Tailors Club, Bad Comments, and Badamasi, which are currently available to watch. This highlights the commitment by Prime Video to deliver local and authentic African films to a global audience of more than 200 million Prime members worldwide.
The new Nigerian Originals will join Prime Video’s selection of global Amazon Original series like The Boys, The Terminal List, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, and upcoming, highly anticipated The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, as well as popular Amazon Original movies like Coming 2 America, The Tomorrow War, and Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse.
Joeboy, 29 Others for YouTube Music Foundry Class of 2022
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Nigerian music sensation, Joeboy, has been chosen alongside 29 independent artists across the globe for the YouTube Music Foundry Class of 2022.
The Foundry program was created in 2015 to assist the artists to build sustainable careers on their own terms and so far, 250 independent entertainers have passed through the system, including Arlo Parks, beabadoobee, Dave, Dua Lipa, Clairo, ENNY, Eladio Carrion, girl in red, Gunna, Japanese Breakfast, Kenny Beats, Natanael Cano, Omar Apollo, Rema, Rina Sawayama, ROSALÍA, Saba, Snail Mail, Tems, Tenille Arts and many more talented musicians.
It was gathered that this year’s program is the largest class to date, with 30 independent artists drawn from 15 countries, including Ghana, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Japan, and Australia, among others.
Foundry artists are recognised for their storytelling, and innovative approach to music and are viewed as the next generation entertainers.
The 2022 Foundry Class reinforces YouTube’s commitment to supporting Sub-Saharan artists as next-generation global music stars; playing a part in developing individual talent in the region.
The Foundry programme ensures that artists can be independent and still have a successful career in music with the support of platforms like YouTube and this year will power two programs, the Foundry Class of 2022 and the independent release support.
Commenting on his inclusion, Joeboy said, “Being an independent artist simply requires me to be at the centre of all of my dealings as a creative. Aside from creating the music, I have to carry out due diligence to make sure I am making the right decisions every now and then.”
On his part, Ghana’s Black Sherif said, “Success as an independent artist is connecting with one more person on any level through my music. Once that is constantly achieved, in my opinion, everything else will follow. Being a Foundry artist for me means a strong global platform with support to visually take my expression to the next level and reach more people in the process.”
“It’s no small task to be an artist in 2022, working to find stability, fulfilment, and fans who get it. Foundry celebrates the courage of independent artists and the communities that surround them. Our global team is lucky to be their champion and reduce barriers on their journey, every step of the way,” the YouTube Artist Partnerships Lead, Naomi Zeichner said.
Also, SSA YouTube Music Lead, Addy Awofisayo, disclosed that, “We believe that lowering the barrier to entry that unlocks opportunities for music artists to create and connect with a global audience is crucial. But beyond that, Foundry will assist the music artists participants in navigating a new increasingly digital industry as they connect with fans and generate revenue.”
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