The Indian audiences’ newfound love for content-driven cinema has to be one of the biggest trends emerging in the post-pandemic era. Earlier, films that had content at their heart rather than star power often had to settle with critical acclaim with little or no awareness amongst the masses. However, the boom of the OTT platforms partly thanks to the pandemic has changed the equations. Producers now have the perfect platform to showcase their films to the intended audience. It was heartening to see our film Axone which tackles the issue of rampant racism faced by the North Eastern community in the country’s capital, Delhi trending number 1 on Netflix for a good period of time when it was released in June 2020.
The rise of OTT platforms will inevitably result in more content-driven films being churned out as Producers tend to minimise the risk of incurring a loss on their films thereby allowing them to experiment with unconventional storytelling. The issue with smaller slightly unconventional films is their exhibition in theatres. More often than not, good show timings for these films are reserved for the bigger fancier projects, and the smaller ones get show timings that are both inconvenient and not conducive for the target audience.
Coming to the future of big-screen entertainment, I am of the firm opinion that the conventional form of watching movies in theatres is here to stay. Humans, especially Indians, are inherently social beings with celebrating occasions and festivals together with our friends and families culturally imbibed in our society and Cinema being one of the biggest festivals and a binding agent will certainly witness the return of audiences to theatres and multiplexes as soon as we witness a modicum of normalcy.
The Indian film industry will continue to make larger-than-life, big-ticket films that are best enjoyed on the Big Screen and audiences will eventually return to theatres especially considering the current rate of vaccination. Avengers: Endgame emerged as the biggest film in India in 2019 as it grossed ₹433 crores in all the language versions. The experience of watching this film would have been infinitely diluted if it was consumed on our mobiles and laptops. It came as no surprise that another Hollywood release Godzilla vs Kong which was released earlier this year in theatres just before the onset of the second wave of the pandemic fared well at the Indian box office.
2019 was a record year for the Indian Film Industry with Gross box office receipts crossing the ₹10,000 crore mark for the first time (Ormax Media) which further highlighted the industry’s popularity amongst the masses. The Multiplex industry has a lot to look forward to considering the strong slate of big-ticket films which are eyeing a release between later this year and early 2022.
[box type=”success” align=”” class=”” width=””]Going forward, I think OTT platforms and Big Screen entertainment will end up complementing each other. Content-driven cinema which would have social issues at its heart will now find a safe haven in OTT platforms while the event and larger-than-life films will continue to draw audiences to theatres and multiplexes.[/box]
However, filmmakers will now be kept on their toes when it comes to the story and writing, regardless of the scale of the project, because audiences’ expectations have only risen since they were exposed to a variety of high-quality films on OTT platforms during the lockdown.
As Shah Rukh Khan once famously said, “Picture Abhi Baaki Hai Mere Dost.”
About the author:
Siddharth Anand Kumar has worked in varied aspects of the film and TV industry from writing, directing, photography, editing and teaching in a career spanning 18 years. He has directed two independent feature films and over 20 TV shows. He is currently VP of films and events for Saregama where he has a mandate to produce compelling story-led feature films for theatrical and digital audiences in India and worldwide. Yoodlee Films, as the venture is known, has quickly become a focal point for Indian independent cinema having produced over 10 films in the last 15 months since its inception.