Anushka Sharma Said OTT Platforms Are Great But They Cannot Replace The Theatre Experience. We Agree And We Can’t Wait.
The global pandemic has altered so much in the world – from the environment, economy to our daily lifestyle – the change has been as a strong shot of espresso. It opened our eyes to the unpredictable nature of our lives and so much more. With the lockdown in place, Bollywood producers are facing a tough choice – should they release their film on an OTT platform or postpone it until the theatres open? Movies such as Vidya Balan’s Shakuntala Devi, Amitabh Bachchan – Ayushmann Khurrana’s Gulabo Sitaro, Janhvi Kapoor’s Gunjan Saxena and Ananya Panday – Ishaan Khatter’s Khaali Peeli opted to go for a digital release. However, Akshay Kumar’s Laxmmi Bomb decided to wait for a theatrical one. Why? Because the producers don’t want an Akshay Kumar film, and a grand one at that, to release on a small screen. Makes sense.
However, it’s not like OTT platforms are underestimated. In fact, I would say we’ve been hooked on to them even before the lockdown. Now, they are like a single source of entertainment in our lives. Several films and shows are made especially for the OTT platform, Anushka Sharma’s production venture Pataal Lok being the latest one that’s been garnering all the acclaim rn.
Speaking on releasing content on an OTT platform, Anushka said, “OTT platforms allow you to kind of sample the content that is being created world over in Ireland, Turkey, America, Israel, United Kingdom. It enables you to see the content creators all over the world…” She further added, “I see the OTT platform as an opportunity for filmmakers and groups of individuals to be able to touch upon stories and ideas you can explore in a longer format with the show, which you can’t do with the film. Sometimes you want to flesh out details of a story, and introduce every aspect of it in a way that is relevant and interesting to an audience, something which is different. It also allows you to express yourself freely, because of the nature of the platform and its audience.”
We completely agree with her on that. An OTT platform like Netflix and Amazon Prime is a place where youngsters can find content that’s relatable and also more modern. The content is more progressive and experimental, which wouldn’t have many takers amongst the families that frequent the cinema halls. This is also content that undergoes lesser censorship, allowing for more freedom.
As much as we love Netflix and chill, Anushka Sharma believes that these platforms aren’t here to replace the cinema-going experience. “We Indians as people — are culturally people who love to celebrate together. We love doing things as part of a community. So we will always be interested in doing something collectively as a community. It (the big screen) is an outing experience with family and I don’t see that going out. We are not independent as people, that’s just who we are culturally. I think movies will always continue to be,” she said.
She further added that now is the time that producers can make different kinds of content for cinema or web, choosing wisely. “The only difference that is going to happen — and it’s a natural progression with changing times — is maybe we will now have to start thinking as producers, as filmmakers, what content is to be made for which platform. So stories will probably be more befitting for the OTT platform, and the experience of the theatres can never ever be replaced by the OTT platforms. So I believe that they will manage to exist together,” she said.
That’s the thing – going to the theatres to watch a film is all about the experience. Why do we not wait for the films to premiere on TV then? It’s about sitting comfortably in a dark chilled room, watching a film you love on a larger than life screen and devouring the delicious popcorn that you might as well sell your kidney to buy.
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This isn’t the first time that we haven’t been able to go see a film for so long. Back in 2009, due to a rift between producers and multiplexes, no big Bollywood film was released between April and June. And I remember going on a movie date for Ocean Of An Old Man – a film which I really didn’t understand back then. I fell asleep watching that one and woke up just in time for the ending. Once the strike was over, the first mainstream movie to release was New York which really broke the box office. Even though back then we didn’t have the OTT platforms but clearly, the cinema experience did matter then and matters now.