scorecardresearch
Was Bollywood saved by OTT during the pandemic? For many producers, the answer is a big Yes

Was Bollywood saved by OTT during the pandemic? For many producers, the answer is a big Yes

As a string of flops emerge from Bollywood, many producers feel that OTT platforms actually ended up saving the industry.

Producers say that OTT platforms like Disney Hotstar, Amazon Prime, Netflix, etc. actually “saved” Bollywood during the pandemic. (Photo: TechRadar) Producers say that OTT platforms like Disney Hotstar, Amazon Prime, Netflix, etc. actually “saved” Bollywood during the pandemic. (Photo: TechRadar)

As back-to-back big-budget Bollywood films like Lal Singh Chaddha, Shamshera, Jayeshbhai Jordaar—with recently released Brahmastra being among the exceptions—fail to draw audiences back to the theatres, film and OTT (over the top) producers say that there are no easy answers to what works at the Box Office anymore and one of the reasons behind it is that the pandemic has changed the dynamics of content viewing as consumers went through a behavioural change while discovering more OTT content slate at the click of a button. Producers say that OTT platforms like Disney Hotstar, Amazon Prime, Netflix, etc. actually “saved” Bollywood during the pandemic.

“During the pandemic, OTT saved Bollywood. Although I feel Bollywood still needs saving,” said Nikkhil Advani, Indian film director said at FICCI Frames, India’s biggest media and entertainment convention in Mumbai.

Organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), FICCI Frames is attended by the who’s who of the media and entertainment industry. Advani adds that a lot of households chose OTT because they had to actually buy more bandwidth to educate their children. “That's how they discovered OTT. They are not like us who are watching everything every weekend. As producers we were sitting with content and there was a captive audience. OTT actually bailed us out. It was actually coming together of Bollywood and OTT in a way,” he added.

In the same panel, actor Divya Dutta said that for an actor web series are more layered and their role becomes deeper. “Audience is changing a lot especially after the pandemic. As an actor I wanted to do different roles. In Bollywood films, they didn't know where to place me. Today, that role is the lead role and everyone wants to do that,” she said. Dutta added that it has to come to a point when everyone can afford it. “There has to be a coexistence between the two. Cinema watching today is not affordable for all,” she added.

Tumbbad actor and producer Sohum Shah credits OTT in recognising the power of talent. “My career is because of OTT. Tumbaad or Ship of Theseus could have only been made for OTT. I can play a 50-year-old man or a clown, it’s opened a new set of opportunities especially for female actors because of longer shelf life. OTT has given a chance for talent to flourish. It has also created a massive new mobile audience. Earlier you were typecast as an actor, OTT has given us hope,” Shah said.

When it comes to the difference between the two media, producers feel in terms of content there’s a big difference but a lot of things also remain the same. “In terms of content there's a big difference. Cinema is the director’s medium, theatre is an actor's medium, television series/OTT is a writer's medium. Nothing much has changed on a fundamental level. We all need to figure out India's Squid Games because in terms of incremental subscribers we're still not growing as much on the OTT front,” Advani added.

Representing the government’s point of view, Vikram Sahay, Joint Secretary (P&A), Ministry of Information & Broadcasting made a critical distinction between films and OTTs. “The biggest difference is that films require a pre-certification whereas OTT releases don’t because of the nature of audiences of the two. “We in the Ministry felt that OTT realease doesn't require a pre certification like movies. It's more like self certification. We have not heard from a single OTT platform that we're burdened by grievances. I can assure that ministry will never cause inconvenience to the OTT players,” he said.

Also read: ‘Vikram Vedha’, ‘Ponniyin Selvan: I’, ‘Jamtara S2’, other top releases in September-end

Also read: Asha Parekh to be awarded with Dadasaheb Phalke Award

Published on: Sep 28, 2022, 2:33 PM IST
Posted by: Tarab Zaidi, Sep 28, 2022, 2:24 PM IST