Home alone with Disney+

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Disney launched its streaming service in India – giving us the chance to relive our childhood

You come back home from school, switch on the TV and start watching your favourite show ‘Hannah Montana’. Or, it’s a Sunday morning and ‘High School Musical’ appears on TV – and you can’t stop yourself from lip synching to your favourite song from the movie. And you binge watch ‘Lizzie McGuire’ while your homework lies neglected! If you relate to these instances, then you are a true-blue 90s kid — the kind whose world revolved around Disney Channel while they were growing up.

For many of us, during the early 2000s, Disney was not just another channel. It was a different universe – which had such fascinating characters in a make-believe world which was full of joy, positivity and magic. It contained cartoons, a host of teen drama shows, Disney’s original movies and what not.

Now, with the whole world under the grip of the Coronavirus pandemic, Disney takes us back to those good old days of our childhood with the launch of its streaming service Disney+. It made its debut in countries like the US, Canada, among others, last year and expanded to European countries in March. In India, it was launched recently this month (April 3) through Hotstar (rebranding it as Disney+Hotstar).

“I was eagerly waiting to watch ‘Frozen 2’ and ‘The Lion King’, as I gave it a miss when it came to theatres. So it was a great experience when I got the chance to watch it at home! I cannot thank Disney enough for choosing this time, especially when people do need something positive to look forward to!” says Ankita Bose, 24, a media professional. 

The Disney+ Hotstar VIP tier costs Rs 399 in India and it offers shows and movies from Marvel Cinematic Universe, superheroes movies and popular Disney movies to the subscribers in addition to the Hotstar content. Disney+ Hotstar Premium, on the other hand, costs Rs 1,499 and it offers Disney Originals in addition to the content offered as a part of the Disney+ Hotstar VIP package.

This new entrant in the world of streaming is a storehouse of nostalgia. From Disney classics like Lion King, Aladdin, Frozen 2, Toy Story 4 to Marvel series like Avengers Infinity War, Endgame – it offers much to keep your quarantine blues away. All this in addition to  the content Hotstar is already providing. 

“The moment it was launched in India, I could not contain my excitement. I started bingeing on all my favourite shows – from ‘The Suite Life of Zack and Cody’, to ‘That’s so Raven’. It felt like I was reliving my childhood days,” says 28-year-old Shreya Das. She also believes that this came as a blessing amid this pandemic, because watching feel-good content helps reduce stress.

Mouli Roy, 26, seconds this view. “These are tough times. Keeping ourselves mentally fit is also a must. And if watching good films and shows help you feel good, then why not?” She further adds, “I have been a Disney Channel fanatic since forever. So from the day it was launched, I have been devouring all the films and shows – though I have watched them before! And it feels so good!”

Moreover, it is also providing a platform for films whose business has been affected by the outbreak. For instance, recently, the critically acclaimed Bollywood film ‘Angrezi Medium’ – starring Irrfan Khan and Radhika Madan — was released on Disney+Hotstar. 

The film, which saw a theatrical release on March 13, fell victim to the pandemic and had a short run. Probably that’s the reason for its early digital release. “Hop on to the dreamy roller-coaster ride with this father-daughter duo as we bring to you the World Digital Premiere of #AngreziMedium only on @DisneyplusHSVIP! Watch now,” Khan tweeted.

Another film ‘Artemis Fowl’ – which has also been affected due to the pandemic – is soon about to make its premiere on Disney+. With audiences largely unable to attend theatres in the current environment, it is being premiered on Disney+. “Director Kenneth Branagh and his spectacular cast take viewers right into the vibrant, fantasy world of the beloved book, which fans have been waiting to see, brought to life onscreen for years. It’s great family entertainment that is the perfect addition to Disney+’s summer line-up,” said the president of Content and Marketing, Disney+, in a press release on April 3.

The film, based on the 2001 bestseller of the same name by Eoin Coffer, is directed by academy nominated Sir Kenneth Branagh, and its cast includes Ferdia Shaw, Colin Ferrell and Judi Dench.

Since the day it was launched, many started comparing Disney+ with other streaming services – especially the two leading ones, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. But each of these platforms are unique in their own ways. For instance, one can get a host of good regional content – alongside Hollywood – on Amazon Prime. Also, recently, Oscar-winning film ‘Parasite’ was launched. Similarly, Netflix has a huge library of tv shows, movies as well as documentaries – from all across the world. 

But in the end, it all comes down to one thing – that is, “good content.” And with the launch of yet another streaming service, audiences, who are locked up in their homes are definitely getting exposed to more options. Disney+ is certainly giving us company during the lockdown.


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