The coronavirus pandemic has changed life as we knew it in this part of the world a mere four months ago. It has forced us to rethink and practically eliminate or severely limit on social activities - gatherings, be they family or political or festive or recreational - like watching movies on the big screen.
According to a recent survey conducted by a lifestyle-research firm, 'Lifestyle and Beyond', it appears that cinegoers have lost their enthusiasm to go to multiplexes and catch up on the latest Bollywood/Hollywood release. With major films being released on over-the-top (OTT) platforms during the lockdown, it appears that Mumbai-ites have gradually begun to enjoy movie premieres within the confines of their homes.
More than half of the respondents, in the 18-65 years of age range, used to be frequent cinegoers but now, 52 per cent of this group prefer to enjoy movies at home.
"The pandemic has made a severe impact on the lifestyle of the people. In the last few months, a number of films and web series have premiered on OTT platforms and many more releases are planned in the coming months" said research coordinator Sushma Reddy.
"The enthusiasm to go watch a movie outside has gradually fallen during the lockdown," Reddy observes. The organisation had conducted a similar survey in the initial days of the lockdown, with considerably different results.
"We had conducted a similar research in mid-April but the results were different then. More than 60 per cent of people said they were missing going to watch films in theatres," Reddy recalled.
"Since then, more people have begun to find home viewing comfortable and voted for the OTTs," she observed.
In a recent multi-film deal, a number of Hindi movies have been sold to OTT platforms by their producers, which is a clear hint that there's been a shift already.
"With time, cinema has changed and so has the style of cinema watching. In the lockdown period, people have realised that they can continue to enjoy that first day-first show experience at home and so, have begun to embrace OTT platforms," said Animesh Nambiar, a 42-year-old respondent to the survey and a frequent cinegoer.
"For Indian audiences, watching a film at a theatre is more of an experience. Maybe the popularity of OTT platforms will increase post-lockdown but the experience of watching cinema in theatres will be unaffected," says Arushi Dixit, a student of film studies and another respondent.
"I feel this stance of the people will change as soon as things start changing for the better. People are now detached from the outer world, hence they consider watching films at home feasible. I am sure this won't last once they reconnect with the real world," Dixit added.