Sayani Gupta, actor
It’s a little unfair to give a blanket statement and choose one medium over another. The joy of watching films on the big screen will not go away, but with the advent of OTT a lot has changed and the whole process of filmmaking has become more democratic. Due to OTT you are seeing varied kind of filmmaking and a lot of new faces, which wasn’t possible with theatrical release of films. Jaideep Ahlawat, Pankaj Tripathi, Pratik Gandhi...so many new actors, writers and technicians are being discovered due to OTT. The Covid situation has also changed things, with people consuming everything — good, bad or ugly. The big screens are not going anywhere, but now the audience will not pay money for the tickets unless they know they will get good content. I feel now you don’t necessarily need a big star to attract the audience.
KUNAL KEMMU, actor
The film industry is run by an army of people — technicians, lightmen, etc. These daily wage earners were affected due to the pandemic. OTT gave an opportunity to those people to start earning again. The ones who were affected were the producers waiting for theatrical releases. So for them, if the option of selling their film to an OTT platform did not exist, then it would be the doom for that particular producer. The OTT industry has given a chance to those films, which could not be marketed well enough for the big screen. But, when the theatres open, it would not only be for watching movies like Avengers, the audience will also go for comedies like Golmaal, because these are films you want to enjoy with friends. As far as the theatre viewing experience goes, I can say I would not have wanted to be an actor if I had not sat in a cinema hall and seen a movie on 70 mm.
VIKRAMADITYA MOTWANE, director & producer
As filmmakers and audience, we all love movie theatres way too much to completely abandon them. Most of my audience has seen my content on OTT. One reason for this being the competition with bigger films for space in theatres. Due to this, the smaller films are affected, because word of mouth takes time to catch on. For such kinds of films, OTT is a boon. Through word of mouth, if someone tells you to watch a film in theatre you might go and watch it three weeks later. But, if someone recommends a film on OTT, you would try it out sooner, even if it is for just 10 minutes. However, I don’t think OTT content has matured yet; we still don’t have genre movies, cooler or crazier movies in that space, but it’s too soon for that. Coming to films, if a film is made for a collective audience, then it’s meant for the cinema halls. I feel theaters will screen films, which aim for the 100-200 crore clubs; movies which are a family spectacle.
SUMEET VYAS, actor
I think the one big problem faced by those who make films for movie halls is that there will be less scope for laziness. Back in the day, you could be lazy because as long as you had beautiful actors, great locations, crazy action sequences and good music you could sell a film and expect the audience to come and watch it. They did not have to worry about people asking them whether they had a script before starting the shoot of the film. But, that is not possible in today’s day and age, if you do not have a story engaging enough. Due to OTT, there is a good bifurcation for the audience — there’s something for everyone. You can have a very specific kind of story and not be afraid that no one is going to watch it because there’s always an audience for any genre or experiment. I do get disappointed, however, when people don’t want to experiment on OTT, when they want to play safe, because it is a platform where you can go crazy and people will appreciate it.
AKSHAYE RATHI, film exhibitor & distributor
The new kind of stories that we are being able to tell through OTT are only developing the taste of the audience, who are evolving to accept more. Maybe 10 years ago, an Ayushman Khurrana film would not have found the acceptance that it does today. As creators we need to change our art of storytelling. There are various tools which are unique to the theatrical experience — like surround sound, which needs to be used appropriately — as long as that can happen both the formats will co-exist beautifully. Over the last three years, since the advent of OTT, the business of cinema has also grown, till the pandemic happened. This is a speed breaker and I only feel the way forward will be onwards and upwards for both.
SHILADITYA BORA, film producer & distributor
SIR, a film which I am distributing is releasing in theatres on November 13, amid the pandemic. So in that sense I have always been a big believer in the power of theatre. Films are of all types and there’s no ‘one size fits all.’ But one would ask why we are planning to release SIR in the middle of a pandemic? SIR has already released theatrically in more than 25 countries across the world and received a great response. In fact, in France it is among the top five highest grossing Indian films released theatrically, including Salaam Bombay and The Lunchbox. Our director Rohena Gera also believes she made the film for the movie halls, and even if she has to wait for that to happen she would. Also since the film has released in other places before Indian, we have recovered a certain amount of our investment.
RAJESH KRISHNAN, Ad filmmaker & director
As a kid I used to love watching films in the movie halls and so I am going to be a bit biased towards that medium. But will the two be able to merge? Well, we are already seeing that. There was a time when you went to watch big occasion films in cinemas and the intelligent material used to be on OTT. Now, we have come to a time where you can have content that is intelligent and at the same time is liked by people. The rise of OTT or cinema would never kill people’s reading habits; we have books, content for YouTube and OTT—there’s something for everyone.