Kolkata: The pandemic has certainly catalyzed the rise of “Over the Top” (OTT) platforms, but independent filmmakers are struggling to approach such platforms. Several independent filmmakers feel that OTT platforms are more commercially driven.
“Big OTT platforms are market-driven, serving certain demographics or sections, while emerging filmmakers are making films on issues, social problems and personal experiences not palatable to the common consumer taste,” actor and filmmaker Aditya Om, living in Mumbai, told The Sunday Guardian.
He further said: “In our country, any new thing is captured and monopolised by the elite. It happened with multiplexes and continues with OTT platforms. We are kind of charity projects for them to keep art alive. Even if they like a topic, they will make their own series on the topic rather than encourage any new talent. The platform is the brand, not the product. It is a problem being faced by filmmakers all over.”
Similarly, another filmmaker and actor from Mumbai, Kamil Shaikh, said, “We (independent filmmakers) got indirectly pushed to have collaboration with a known producer who already has their films on the platform.” Such circumstance has discouraged many filmmakers.
However, OTT platforms have helped regional movies to receive recognition. Earlier, mainstream cinema focused on Bollywood, but with the rise of OTT platforms, regional movies are widely recognized. “Today, regional movies along with mainstream movies come under trending content,” an independent filmmaker, Prashant Raj, creator, director of Alma Matters, told this newspaper. Filmmaker and founder of Greennote Films, Aniruddh Roy, said: “No doubt, Hindi movies have wider reach but regional movies have subtitles that help people to understand easily. Also, the craft of filmmaking is appreciated these days. The post-production teams enhance the storyline, so the performance, content and film crafting matter the most.” Asked about the preferred content, he said, “Filmmakers must be an honest creator having authentic skills. Well-researched document and creativity go parallel with the audience.” “The most preferred content on big OTT platforms ranges from the top-notch international shows to known faces, big-banner films and web series produced by Indians. At times, viewers prefer to see what is in trend and at times, viewers create the trend because of the film itself. But, mostly, it is the known actors that make the viewers want to consume the content,” Chakshu Khatsuria, director of At the Dot, a featurette, said. Also, promotion plays a major factor. Aditya Sharma, director of Drishtibhram, web series, said: “Sometimes, the scale of promotion of such movies is zero. It is just by word of mouth they (regional movies) get some recognition. So, the promotion has been the game-changer.”
Sometimes, films are judged on the basis of celebrity cast. Since the pandemic has brought forth digital trends; the future of independent filmmakers seems promising. Ayush Wadhwa, Founder at Owled media, Content Creator from Rohtak, Haryana, told this newspaper: “Even my production house Owled media is producing a travel show for an OTT platform, which is directed by me and there is a Bollywood celebrity as an actor and I come with zero connections in the industry.”