Given that the OTT format is different from that of films and television, the doors have opened for new talent be it writers, actors, directors, etc.
In 2020, Bollywood diva and beauty queen Sushmita Sen returned to the small screen with the hit web series ‘Aarya’. In 2021, it was the turn of another B-Town star, Raveena Tandon, to capture hearts with her wonderful performance in web series ‘Aranyak’. With the high demand for quality content on OTT in India, it looks like more yesteryear stars who have taken a hiatus from films are making a big comeback.
The covid pandemic may have wreaked havoc across the world but it has led to the rapid rise of OTT entertainment given that you can watch it anywhere, anytime from a smartphone to a laptop and more. The competitive and reasonable prices of OTT platforms (international and regional) has also helped them capture a large Indian market and it looks like this the way forward for entertainment globally. What this has also given rise to is the demand for quality content and given that the OTT format is different from that of films and television, the doors have opened for new talent be it writers, actors, directors, etc. But it has also opened doors for stars who have taken a break from cinema and are now rediscovering it in this new medium which is giving the audience new stories and new story-telling.
When Raveena Tandon was asked why she chose to make her digital debut with ‘Aranyak’, she had said that she loves a good thriller and also because it was being showcased on Netflix. Her character, Kasturi, in the series, is a small-town cop who is strong, fierce and bold, and who stands up to the men around her, be it her husband or boss. Tandon has been receiving accolades for her portrayal of Kasturi and the series, in fact, is currently one of the top three on Netflix India.
Sushmita Sen and Raveena Tandon are not just the only yesteryear stars who are making a beeline for OTT platforms. Madhuri Dixit Nene will be seen soon on ‘Finding Anamika’ on Netflix while Shilpa Shetty is also reportedly going to start shooting for a series in early 2022. 80s stars Poonam Dhillon and Padmini Kholapure too made their comeback in the recently released web series ‘Dil Bekaraar’. So what is attracting yesteryear B-Town stars to OTT platforms now? Today, these former stars are seeking out roles that suit their age and OTT platforms are offering them characters and roles tailor-made for them. While in Hollywood actresses continue working – till into their 70s even, in India, most find that their careers peter out once they tie the knot. But this trend has changed significantly in the last five years with more top B-Town actresses getting married while at the top of their game and continuing to command top salaries and lead roles.
Given that OTT platforms have a captive and receptive audience for nearly every genre of entertainment (i.e. thriller, horror, comedy, drama, etc), the roles being carved out for these leading ladies is also varied and attractive. These actresses no longer have to play second fiddle to the hero and most often, the story revolves around her. Moreover, the overdramatic acting of television with the heavy make-up and long-winding never-ending stories have not been a major attraction for many of these stars. In fact, it was just reality shows that offered them an opportunity to be themselves and be paid reasonably well too. OTT, however, has been a gamechanger in this regard too where the sky›s the limit for salaries and if the series is a hit, then there is really no looking back for them.