With the second wave of Covid-19 sweeping across India, we are now confined, once again, to the safety of our homes with limited sources of entertainment. Not surprisingly, there has been a massive uptick in not just the number of people but also the amount of time devoted to over-the-top (OTT) platforms. A May 2020 survey reported that more than 75 per cent of Indians purchased new subscriptions to OTT platforms during the lockdown period. So, we invited readers to share their screens with us.
Bingeing to relax
With work-from-home adding to her workload, journalist Reshma Kulkarni Pathare, 40, says that watching shows on OTT platforms helps her to wind down before going to bed. “While I began with Mirzapur and Delhi Crime, which had created a lot of buzz, I found that they were very unsettling after a long day. I like to watch shows that give me exposure to a different side of life, without being too emotionally or mentally taxing. I recently watched all episodes of The Crown, Four More Shots Please and The Bold Type. For some light-hearted entertainment, I have also begun to watch The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” she reveals.
Dr Nahid Dave, a psychiatrist at Thought Matters says that there has been a sharp uptick in the number of reality shows people have been watching. “It gives people a means of connecting to life as we used to know it, while viewing the idiosyncrasies with an outsider’s perspective and a sense of humour. Many people have also begun to binge-watch Friends re-runs, which is why the show is continuously on the Top Ten list. It helps them connect to a simpler, happier time,” she explains.
Exploring grey areas
Since the lockdown, production manager Ankit Desai has been spending more than seven hours a day watching OTT shows. “I recently watched The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, a mini-series set in the Marvel Universe, and The Blacklist, a crime thriller series. During the lockdown, I like to immerse myself in quality dramas. I seek out good actors, writers and directors. The additional time at hand means that I can watch all the episodes and all the seasons of a show I pick up, instead of deciding whether to continue or abandon them based on first impressions,” the 37-year-old shares.
Dr Dave explains that a growing awareness about mental health in the last year has also spawned the desire in many to understand the workings of the human mind. “I have had a lot of clients reach out to me for book and movie suggestions that will help them to learn more about psychology,” she says. Many viewers are also drawn to true-crime and investigative shows for this reason, she adds. “We’ve been taught all our lives to think of right and wrong in very concrete terms. Exploring the grey areas challenges these notions and broadens our perspective,” adds Dr Dave.
Make it merry, not macabre
“The type of content I am attracted to largely depends on the time of day, my mood, who I am viewing with and what device I am viewing it on. With more time at hand, my wife and I set aside time to watch shows together every day. We watch light, humorous content such as Schitt’s Creek or classics such as The Art of Racing in the Rain. In terms of devices, I prefer to not watch movies on my phone or tablet. If I only have a few minutes, I will watch a quick interview on my handheld device,” says Sushant Naik, 33, content marketer.
He believes that with the fear of the pandemic becoming more tangible in 2021, he and his partner have consciously steered away from very dark or macabre themes. “In fact, after we finished watching shows that were already on our lists, we try to look for happier or more informative shows. I particularly appreciate shows that were made during the lockdown, which have cleverly incorporated elements from our new normal, such as face masks. In some ways, they feel more relatable,” he adds.
Although marketing professional and travel blogger Chandreyi Bandyopadhyay, 30, began the lockdown by watching Indian OTT content, she soon grew tired of the macabre themes. “A lot of shows seem to follow a similar template in terms of their storyline (based in the murky underbelly of the country) and are peppered with excessive violence. After a point, they become quite distressing. I have recently begun watching a lot of documentaries on Discovery Plus, which have fostered a keen interest to learn even more about the world around me. I consciously steer away from documentaries such as Seaspiracy, which peddle an agenda of despair, and choose those that are more informative and heartening such as Life in Colour with David Attenborough. In terms of fiction, I like watching horror shows as they give you an adrenaline rush while being very obviously removed from reality,” she explains.
So whether far-removed from reality or rooted to the ground, OTT platforms and repeated lockdowns are changing audience preferences like never before!