Can OTT platforms encourage better stories?

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Over the top (OTT) platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Hotstar Plus, etc., have been a great boon for web series with interesting storylines and amazing acting performances. Today for new actors, writers and filmmakers, web series could be a better medium to start your career before getting into films and television. This medium gives you better creative freedom. Television is losing its appeal to the young audience, except reality shows. The audience is tired of watching long running serials.

We can compare the three mediums to three formats of cricket. The web series is more like 20-20 format. It is fast and engaging. Television is more like one day cricket which is losing its appeal to 20-20 cricket. We do not want to watch the same television serials running for years. The public is enjoying the shortest format better – web series on OTT platforms.

Films are like test matches. The small budget films could lose here like teams like Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, etc. If one goes to theatres, they want to watch big films with huge stars like viewing a test match between India and Australia. Films like ‘Baahubali’ (2015) and ‘Dangal’ (2016) have raised the bar and expectations.

OTT platforms will challenge films running in theatres. If one can watch interesting stories in the form of web series on laptops or phones, then why do should they need to go to theatres to watch movies for entertainment? Watching movies in theatres should provide them a wholesome experience like ‘Avengers’ (2012), ‘Baahubali’ (2015) or ‘Padmaavat’ (2018) did. Hollywood films are made on huge budgets with better technologies used. Indian filmmakers will have to raise the bar like their Hollywood counterparts.

Small films will have to come with excellent content continuously for the audience. With COVID-19 and lockdown, OTT platforms have grown in popularity. Web series are getting proper reviews from critics and actors featured in web series are also getting media attention. The popularity of OTT platforms will rise like the Indian Premier League (IPL). We may still watch a movie in theatres, but it could be a weekly or a monthly event for a family. The people, who have such OTT platforms are hooked on to these web series daily.

The success of ‘Inside Edge’ (2017), ‘Inside Edge 2’ (2019), ‘Mirzapur’ (2018), ‘Sacred Games’ (2018), ‘The Family Man’ (2019), ‘Paatal Lok’ (2020), ‘Jamtara’ (2020) and now ‘Aarya’ (2020) has shown the audience tastes are changing in India. They want to watch better stories which connects to us. We are getting to see better stories, which are more real and the characters are more interesting, from all parts of society in India.

Mainstream film actors like Manoj Bajpayee (‘The Family Man’), ‘Nawazuddin Siddiqui (‘Sacred Games’ and ‘Sacred Games 2’), Saif Ali Khan (‘Sacred Games’ and ‘Sacred Games 2’), Vivek Oberoi (‘Inside Edge’ and ‘Inside Edge 2’), Emraan Hashmi (‘Bards of Blood’), Ali Fazal (‘Mirzapur’) and Sushmita Sen (‘Aarya’) working in web series have encouraged OTT platforms to do better. As actors, they are getting challenging and interesting characters to play. We can expect more mainstream film actors will get into web series on different OTT platforms in the future.

Web series have given a new lease to careers of brilliant actors like Vineet Kumar (‘Bards of Blood’ and ‘Betaal’) and Jaideep Ahlawat (‘Paatal Lok’). They have done supporting roles in movies and did not get their proper due as actors. They got deserving success in their career with web series. Vineet Kumar in the role of ‘Vikram Sarohi’ in ‘Betaal’ and Jaideep Ahalwat as ‘Hathi Ram Chaudhary’ in ‘Paatal Lok’ are the most memorable acting performances in all mediums together in 2020.

OTT platforms have encouraged good stories to be told in a new format – web series. They should continue with the same encouragement to filmmakers and collaborate with the best talent. Recently it was announced that ‘Sadak 2’, ‘Laxmmi Bomb’, ‘Gunjan Saxena’, ‘Shakuntala Devi’, ‘The Big Bull’, ‘Lootcase’, ‘Dil Bechara’ and ‘Khuda Haafiz’ will be having OTT releases. Such a huge line-up of releases means more growth to OTT platforms.

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