Over–the–top (OTT) platforms like Amazon Prime, Netflix, Disney Hotstar, Zee5, Voot, SonyLiv, etc., have been a great boon to the Indian entertainment industry. In this pandemic, it has been the best source of entertainment for most of us. The content has been far better and the audience gets to see fresher concepts. The OTT platforms can be a serious challenger for the cinema and television industry in India.
The TV industry in India is still stuck with soap operas and reality shows. We are not seeing anything innovative lately. Whereas in films, we are seeing interesting stories and today’s generation of actors are experimenting with roles and their films. But our big older actors are caught in their own stardom except a few of them. They are stuck with their personality image with the audience. The actor and star in them need to be kept separate. The audience has been changing drastically and OTT contents leave a big influence on them. The audience is no more satisfied with below par content.
Web series like ‘Mirzapur’ (2018) and ‘The Family Man’ (2019) on Amazon Prime and ‘Sacred Games’ (2018) on Netflix were a game changer for OTT platforms. They were a huge success and critically acclaimed by most. Their interesting stories and excellent performances from actors like Pankaj Tripathi (‘Mirzapur’), Dibeyundu (‘Mirzapur’), Manoj Bajpai (‘The Family Man’), Nawazuddin Siddiqui (‘Sacred Games’) and Saif Ali Khan (‘Sacred Games’) stuck a chord with the audience.
‘Paatal Lok’ (2020), ‘Bandish Bandits’ (2020) and ‘Panchayat’ (2020) on Amazon Prime, Scam 1992 (2020) on SonyLiv, ‘Special OPS’ (2020) and ‘Aarya’ (2020) on Disney Hotstar and ‘Aashram’ (2020) on MX Player were quality web series have taken the next step ahead for this new medium. The audience is getting to watch a good variety.
OTT platforms and web series are giving writers more freedom to experiment with content and better characterizations are not only limited to lead actors alone. We have a background story for supporting characters also. The acting performances are more realistic and nuanced. You feel the connection with the characters deeper.
The entry of stars like Saif Ali Khan to this medium is a blessing with ‘Sacred Games’ (2018) on Netflix and ‘Tandav’ (2021) on Amazon Prime to popularize the medium better. He has left his inhibition to play only positive characters. Emraan Hashmi’s ’Bard of Blood’ (2019) on Netflix added to the popularity of this medium. Bobby Deol made a brilliant comeback in his career with ‘Aashram’ (2021) on MX Player and Sushmita Sen with ‘Aarya’ (2020) was excellent.
We have actors like Hrithik Roshan, Ajay Devgn, Akshay Kumar and Shahid Kapur entering this medium will take OTT platforms popularity soaring to a new high. The only hope is that they do not dilute the medium with their stardom. But the actor in them is itching them to get into this medium. We audiences have got used to watching better content and superior acting performances.
Most web series have been crime thrillers. They also need to get into different genres of storytelling. Comedy and horror have not been explored well. In the future, we hope to see an increase in content on OTT platforms and such platforms can help television to experiment with a variety of content.
Generally, movies will face challenges as the audience will expect more creativity and something new in stories. This means that big stars will have to do big films with interesting storylines but on a grand scale. OTT platforms have brought fresh and interesting content for the audience but at the same time, have set the bar higher for all content.
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