Theatre experience will not go away but reopening depends on vaccination, says leading filmmaker
GN Bureau | June 21, 2021
With technology evolving every day, it provides filmmakers ideas to get more creative and an edge to tell more stories. India currently has about 40 OTT platforms and the number is increasing by the day. With cinema halls shut during the pandemic-induced lockdown, people turned to OTT platforms in a big way to watch some of the most outstanding cinema which might not have a theatrical release otherwise or garnered an audience.
Has OTT stolen the thunder from cinema? According to Madhur Bhandarkar, the Padma Shri and four-time National Award winning filmmaker, even before the lockdown OTT was a popular platform among cinema lovers for watching choice content and co-existed with films. "OTT is here to stay. It will coexist with films,” he said.
Bhandarkar was speaking with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now, during a live webcast of the Visionary Talk series organised by public policy and governance analysis platform.
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“With OTT coming in, unlike earlier when a film was unable to get a theatrical release, now it offers them a platform for release. Good content films and those with mid- size budgets which were earlier denied their due and could not get a release in theatres are now being recognized on OTT platforms. Producers now are given good budget to make films. OTT has wider reach with good audience and this has been huge benefit. It is a good source of revenue.
“OTT platform is here to stay. Those who are creating original content qualitatively, it can be compared to films. The scale, budget and opulence of Hindi films as also of foreign films on OTT is huge. There is no doubt that OTT and films will coexist in their own space,” Bhandarkar said.
The acclaimed filmmaker said that during the lockdown over the last one and half years with people watching a lot of Indian cinema as well as foreign films on OTT it has made them cinema literate. Yet despite that the experience of going to cinema hall and having popcorn, Coke and snacks will not go away either and they will always want to come back to cinema halls. This, he said, may take some time till one or two films become box office hits. Till then people may not feel confident to watch movies in cinema halls.
He added that when a larger proportion of people get vaccinated and life comes back to normal, the euphoria and excitement of watching a film in the theatre will be back. “The charm of watching cinema in a movie theatre will not go away. [Reopening] depends on how fast vaccination happens and how many people are vaccinated.”
Bhandarkar, who is now making a film on the lockdown with stories around lives of migrant workers, sex workers, an airhostess and a middle-class father who meets his daughter amidst difficulties in the shutdown, said, "The film industry is now revamping every five years. With new content and new filmmakers coming in and easy access to the best of foreign films the envelop is consistently being pushed.”
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