Aishwarya Ramesh

Flipkart Video takes on the likes of Netflix with interactive crime fiction web series

The series allows users to guess the culprit and win prizes. It will be live on the Flipkart app, starting January 9.

The time spent on an e-commerce app doesn’t necessarily translate to purchases/sales of products, but it does increase the likelihood (of purchases/sales). Flipkart Video’s latest initiative seems to be a step in that direction.

As a nation, we have always been fascinated by crime stories – the unpredictable nature of a case, analysing the crime scene and the thrill of the detective-suspect chase.

Flipkart Video, in collaboration with Guneet Monga’s production house Sikhya Entertainment, gives viewers a chance to play detective from the comfort of their phones, with a new interactive crime fiction series ‘Kaun? Who did it?’. The show has been written by veteran TV writer Sunjoy Shekhar.

Every episode in the series will feature a different murder case, giving audiences the opportunity to don the detective's hat and win prizes as they manoeuvre through intriguing twists, solve cryptic clues and identify suspects in real-time.

Once all the clues, interrogation etc plays out in the episode, they'll be given options to choose from - (approximately 10-15 seconds) before the main protagonist reveals who the suspect is. If the audience answers correctly, they'll win Flipkart Gift Vouches or SuperCoins.

Flipkart Video is an in-app interactive video platform from India's leading consumer Internet company Flipkart. It was launched in 2019 and a press note claims that it adopts a tech-forward approach that combines interactivity and gamification for short-form snackable content.

The series features actor Sushant Singh, who will be seen playing the lead role of Adi, a former cop-turned-private detective. His disdain for the police force, the brace on his leg and his walking stick leave a lot to be discovered about his past. Film and theatre actress Samvedna Suwalka, aka Malini, plays a gritty assistant police inspector who teams up with Adi to solve the cases.

Prakash Sikaria, VP (growth and monetisation) at Flipkart, said, “Our consumer-first approach enables us to push the boundaries and bring interactivity to content. 'Kaun? Who did it?' is built on people's increasing fascination for shows with an element of ‘guessing’ and the innate urge to unravel a mystery.”

“This show will provide the thrill of visceral entertainment and the rush of decoding a secret before the protagonist does. We’re excited to explore many more engaging concepts within this genre.”

Prakash Sikaria
Prakash Sikaria

Speaking about cracking this innovation and her association with Flipkart Video, Monga, CEO, Sikhya Entertainment, said, “We, at Sikhya, believe in pushing the envelope when it comes to content, and an interactive whodunit show for Flipkart Video was an interesting brief to crack. We conceptualised, shot and delivered this show during (COVID-induced) lockdown.”

“Umesh Bist (the showrunner) and Sunjoy Shekhar (the writer) ensured that the content is cleverly planned within the limitations of lockdown, without compromising on the flavour of a crime thriller. I’m happy to partner with Flipkart Video and am confident that Flipkart’s reach amongst the masses and knowledge of consumer behaviour will help the show reach its audience.”

The trailer gives audiences a peek into the characters of the show, with the duo (Singh and Suwalka) solving some of the most unthinkable mysteries. The show will feature episodes each day on the Flipkart app. It also gives users the opportunity to win prizes by recognising the killer before the protagonists.

The show will be live on the Flipkart app, starting January 9. Users can access the show by clicking on the video icon at the bottom right of the Flipkart app’s homepage.

The last time we saw a similar interactive show was in 2018, when Netflix teamed up with the team of writers of ‘Black Mirror’ to create the interactive special episode ‘Bandersnatch’.

It was based on the story of a video game designer Stefan, who is seen battling his inner demons as he designs a complex video game. Viewers got to make choices about the kind of music he listens to, whether he accepts or declines a job offer and if he chooses to jump off a building or not.

Experts speak

Uday Sodhi, senior partner at Kurate Digital Consulting, a firm that deals with OTT content and e-commerce, among other things, opines that Flipkart Video is a new entrant in the video space...

Uday Sodhi
Uday Sodhi

“It's a great platform and should do well, however, the model of monetisation and the kind of videos would be very different. It's a good strategy and will be very different from other platforms in India.”

Manav Sethi, chief marketing officer, Octro Inc. (former CMO at Eros International PLC and ALTBalaji), agrees that this is a good move by Flipkart Video, which was long overdue. “Flipkart has the pockets, it has the latent consumers access and the right key from the consumer engagement stand point.”

Manav Sethi
Manav Sethi

However, he adds that compared to Amazon Prime and the likes of Netflix, Flipkart has miles to go. “I think if it (Flipkart) puts consistent efforts in that direction, it should be able to do it. So far, the manifestation of that step is yet to come out because if you have a player who is spending $19 billion in 2021 for content acquisition, then just one show is not going to cut the noise,” Sethi concludes.

Gurpreet Singh, co-founder, One Digital (a digital content creation platform), says, "With the myriad of popular content available today on the leading OTTs including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar etc, it’s quite a daring step towards aiming to line up with the popular and on demand OTT players. Since I believe content is the king and having the flexible audience with the penchant towards different & out of the box content unlike the regular TV soap operas. I can say one thing if the content is amazing, it holds the power to get popular among patrons, irrespective of the platform."

Gurpreet Singh
Gurpreet Singh

"As long as competing with the established players is concerned, if the content is exciting and relatable, it can get its name highlighted with the right communication strategy. Being already an established brand, flipkart does have an advantage just like Amazon of having a huge database of e-commerce users and therefore they won’t have to struggle just like brand new OTT players to reach out to consumers. All that is required is good content and a good user experience for consumers," Singh adds.