The debate whether the OTT platforms can take over Bollywood might have seemed very far-fetched around this time last year. Although the OTT platforms were consistently churning out interesting content, the Hindi film industry was also turning a new leaf with content-driven cinema making the ‘actors’ replacing the ‘stars’ as the new ‘heroes’ of Bollywood. But in the last few months as the pandemic forced people to stay inside the safety of their homes, shutting down movie theatres among other industries, the movie viewing has gone through a tectonic shift. The lockdown has acted as a catalyst to the already booming OTT space. And one is increasingly faced with this question… are the days of Bollywood coming to an end? Also, with even Bollywood movies getting OTT releases, is it shutters for the movie theatres?
While the rise of content-driven cinema is indeed heartening, the star-studded plothole-riddled movies are comfort food for us Indians. Moreover, for us, movie viewing is a family activity. Watching a movie to us is much more than analysing the camera angles or marvelling at the craft of shooting a long take. It is an event to be shared with friends and family. Many Bollywood movies would be unwatchable if you take away the audience reaction. Imagine watching a Dabangg or a Simmba on your mobile screen sans the loud cheering and the occasional whistles, it is almost like removing the soundtrack from the movie! One can binge watch a thousand movies, but the charm of watching a Rohit Shetty blow up a cavalcade of cars while Ajay Devgn zooms out from nowhere on a superbike can’t be translated on the screen of a mobile phone. Cinema, especially in India, is both Guru Dutt and Govinda, both Sacred Games and Sooryavanshi.
The Free Press Journal makes an attempt to get into the heart of the debate with industry experts analysing both sides.
Event: The Free Press Journal Debate
Motion: OTT OR Bollywood, which is the way forward for the Indian film industry
Time: 5:30 PM IST, November 9, 2020
Moderator: Roshan Abbas
Vikramaditya Motwane: The director, producer and screenwriter is one of the game changers in Hindi cinema having directed acclaimed films like Udaan, Lootera, Trapped. As a producer his filmography is even more illustrious and includes titles like Masaan, Queen, NH10, Mukkabaaz Manmarziyaan and the soon-to-be released ‘83. Motwane along with Anurag Kashyap created Netflix's first Indian series Sacred Games. He was one of the co-owner of the now dissolved Phantom Films.
Kunal Kemmu: The award-winning child star of films like Zakhm, Raja Hindustani and Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke, has graduated into a fine actor known today for his comic timing having won hearts with his turn in the Golmaal series and the cult classic Go Goa Gone, a movie he also had written the dialogues for. However, his darker side, as seen in films like Malang and Kalank is equally brilliant. The actor made his web debut last year in the Zee5 Original Abhay.
Shiladitya Bora: One of the major names associated with the indie film movement in the country, Shiladitya Bora is a film producer, marketeer and distributor. Apart from being the main man behind PVR Director’s Rare, the limited release arm of PVR Cinemas group, as the founding CEO of Drishyam Films he was associated with award-winning films like Court, Masaan, Newton. He has recently launched his own media company Platoon One Films.
Sayani Gupta: The FTII graduate is one of the most exciting and talented actors in the industry today having proved her mettle in diverse and unconventional roles in films like Margarita with a Straw, Parched, Jagga Jasoos, Fan, Article 15 and Axone. Her 2019 Amazon Prime web series, Four More Shots Please!, has bagged an International Emmy nomination for Best Comedy series this year.
Sumeet Vyas: The actor became a household name post his turn as Mikesh Chaudhary in Permanent Roommates. His association with TVF has also given us the hugely popular show TVF Tripling. It is a show he co-wrote. He was among the first stars of the OTT platforms who made web shows hip before the Bollywood gang made their foray into this world. His writing credits also include Bang Baaja Baaraat and Love Per Square Foot. His movie titles include Ribbon, Parched, English Vinglish, Veere di Wedding among others.
Rajesh Krishnan: The ad filmmaker with over 500 projects to his credit recently made his directorial debut in Bollywood with Lootcase, a film he also co-wrote. The film was released on Disney+Hotstar during the lockdown. Previously, he had also directed TVF’s hugely successful web series, tripling.
Akshaye Rathi: Akshaye Rathi is a leading film exhibitor & distributor with operations spread across the central Indian states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh & Chhattisgarh. An MBA from SP Jain Institute Of Management & Research, Mumbai, Akshaye also teaches students at various management & media institutes as a visiting faculty.
Poonam Dhillon, Film actor
Prof Alok Rai, Vice Chancellor Lucknow University
Dinkar Gupta, IPS, DGP Punjab Police