Parineeti Chopra Would Hate For Her Films To Release Online And We Agree. Nothing Beats A Theatre Release
Last night as the clock struck midnight, I, like Cinderella, dropped everything that I was doing (video calls with friends, mindless social media scrolling), and rushed to sit before the living room TV with the family. We dimmed the lights, got some ice cream, and settled in comfortably to watch the Amitabh Bachchan, Ayushmann Khurran starrer, Gulabo Sitabo, which premiered on Amazon Prime Video. Though the experience was novel and way more comfortable than watching in a theatre, there was something missing. So I do get what Parineeti Chopra means about not being too fond of having an OTT release for her movies.
In a recent interview, the actress was talking about how the coronavirus lockdown has and will continue to change the film industry. A particular point of focus was the new trend of filmmakers choosing to release their movies directly to digital, instead of waiting around for the government to reopen cinema halls.
Speaking to Filmfare editor Jitesh Pillai, the Ishaqzaade actress said that she would “hate” for her movies to premiere directly online. “Somehow we are still traditional and feel like OTT is a compromised release. But you never know, everyone is changing his or her way of thinking and functioning.”
“Maybe, OTT will become more important now. But there’s that traditional Indian cine-goer in me, who believes cinema will never die. We want our films to release in theatres, whenever it happens.”
Right before we fell into this seemingly endless lockdown rabbit hole, Parineeti Chopra had just begun promotions for her YRF film directed by Dibakar Banerjee, Sandeep And Pinky Faraar, with Arjun Kapoor. The film, which was already delayed for almost a year or so, was finally up for release, but fate had other plans. Pari also has two major releases lined up—the Hindi remake of the Emily Blunt and Justin Theroux starrer The Girl On The Train, based on Paula Hawkins’ 2015 bestseller novel of the same name, and the Saina Nehwal biopic.
“Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar was all set to release. We were two days into promotions when all of this happened. The Girl On The Train is not ready yet as they are in midst of editing and locking the final cuts. Weirdly, it’s a blessing in disguise. Because I know once the lockdown ends, they will work on it and then decide whether they want a theatrical or an OTT release. Same goes with the Saina Nehwal biopic. All these films are so important to me. I have literally bet my life on them and worked hard on them. I would hate for them to have a compromised release,” she told Filmfare.
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And indeed, as a cine-goer, you can’t help but agree with Pari here. India loves cinema. And consolidated, we are pretty much the country that produces the most movies per year. We’re the people who worship the posters of Rajinikanth in theatres when his movie releases. We gather in thousands outside Bachchan’s bungalow every Sunday, just for a glimpse of him waving. We even buy that expensive gourmet popcorn, which costs more than the movie ticket, because we love the whole goddamn experience of watching movies on the big screen. And nothing will probably compare to that.
Now I am no trade analyst here (Attn: Komal Nahata), but we can assume there are pros and cons to films releasing on the OTT. For starters, a movie that is more focussed on the story and characters as opposed to the visual spectacle of it all (which would demand to be experienced on the big screen) is more likely to choose an OTT release. Moreover, a filmmaker of a small-budget film, who is not too sure of his product pulling in huge numbers in the theatres, might choose to not wait and go ahead with an online release.
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जब भी हमारे देश में कोई नौजवान अभिनय के क्षेत्र में कदम रखना चाहता है तो उसका ध्येय होता है अमिताभ बच्चन। मेरी आख़िरी फ़िल्म में एक dialogue था कि बच्चन बनते नहीं है, बच्चन तो बस होते हैं। जब मैंने बचपन में चंडीगढ़ के नीलम सिनमा में “हम” देखी थी और बढ़े से बच्चन को बढ़े से पर्दे पर देखा था तो शरीर में ऐसी ऊर्जा उत्पन्न हुई जिसने मुझे अभिनेता बनने पर मजबूर कर दिया। मेरा पहला tv शूट मुकेश मिल्ज़ में हुआ था और यही वो जगह थी जहां जुम्मा चुम्मा दे दे शूट हुआ था। उस दिन मुझे I have arrived वाली feeling आ गयी थी। अगर तब यह हाल था तो आज आप सोच सकते होंगे मैं किस अनुभूति से गुज़र रहा होऊँगा। गुलाबो सिताबो में मेरे सामने बतौर ‘सह’ कलाकार यह हस्ती खड़ी थी और किरदारों की प्रवृति ऐसी थी की हमें एक दूसरे को बहुत ‘सहना’ पड़ा। वैसे असल में मेरी क्या मजाल की मैं उनके सामने कुछ बोल पाऊँ। इस विसमयकारी अनुभव के लिए मैं शूजित दा का धन्यवाद करना चाहूँगा की उन्होंने मुझे अमिताभ बच्चन जैसे महानायक के साथ एक फ़्रेम में दिखाया है। दादा आप मेरे गुरू हैं, आपका हाथ थाम कर यहाँ तक पहुँचा हूँ। “सौ जन्म क़ुर्बान यह जन्म पाने के लिए, ज़िंदगी ने दिए मौक़े हज़ार हुनर दिखाने के लिए।” -आयुष्मान 🙏🏻 Catch #GiboSiboOnPrime today!
There have been statistics that revealed that while a film tanked on the BO when it released in theatres, it was watched by more people once it dropped on an OTT platform. This might be because not many people were sure about spending money to watch it in theatres, but at home, they didn’t mind so much. Some movies that were bashed by critics, such as Malang, Baaghi 3, Street Dancer 3D, and so on, were more likely to be watched when they released online, because the lockdown turned people desperate for some entertainment.
That being said, a big screen release does have a certain appeal for the business side of things too. The numbers and moolah raked in by the makers might be on the higher side, and it could even be a matter of prestige and pomp. Or maybe, we are so mesmerised by the traditional, larger than life spectacle of a film’s release that we might not see OTT as even remotely as exciting.
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In Bollywood, Shoojit Sircar’s Gulabo Sitabo led the charge with OTT releases, and will soon be followed up by Vidya Balan’s Shakuntala Devi biopic on the same platform.
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Delighted to announce that you will get to see #ShakuntalaDevi very soon on @primevideoin with all your loved ones 🙂. Thrilled that we will be able to entertain you in these unprecedented times . #WorldPremiereOnPrime #ShakuntalaDeviOnPrime @sanyamalhotra_ @senguptajisshu @theamitsadh @sonypicsprodns @abundantiaent @directormenon @ivikramix @shikhaarif.sharma
This week, it was announced that the Janhvi Kapoor starrer female IAF pilot biopic, Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl, would also get a direct OTT release on Netflix. Akshay Kumar’s Laxxmi Bomb, too, has chosen to not wait for cinemas to open and explode straight on OTT. Meanwhile, spectacle and action films like Rohit Shetty’s Sooryavanshi and Kabir Khan’s Kapil Dev biopic about India’s first cricket world cup win, ’83, starring Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone amongst others, have chosen to play the waiting game. Internationally too, Hollywood seems to want to wait it out than release their films online. And with titles like James Bond’s No Time To Die, Marvel’s Black Widow, Christopher Nolan’s Tenet and DC’s Wonder Woman 1984, who can blame them?
It is too early to predict how this shift in mindset and practice will reflect on trade numbers. We’ll have to wait and watch. But as a movie goer, can I just say how much I miss the smell of caramel popcorn wafting through the foyer with backlit posters mounted on walls, telling us we’re home at the movies?