OTT platforms democratize the film industry, bring diverse cultures and talents to the forefront


The Covid-19 pandemic has changed our lives in many ways and one of them is the way we watch movies. OTT platforms are the new theaters for moviegoers… we mean moviegoers – you don’t have to go anywhere now to watch movies except from room to room in your house.

As your viewing experience has evolved, so has the content. Bollywood’s Manoj Bajpayees, Ayushmann Khurranas and Pankaj Tripathis replaced the Khans – Salman, Shah Rukh and Aamir. There are more movies with actresses as the protagonists, but A-listers have stayed away so far.

Movies have gotten shorter, and some are just a collection of short films put together – an anthology. Trending web series, and are hot favorites. Potboilers and mass artists have given way to subtle and more meaningful cinema. Don’t worry, the old movies are there too.

In this series, OTT Trends, News18 examines how streaming platforms have redefined Indian cinema, blurred the lines between mainstream and indie, crossed language barriers, made actors into stars and, most importantly, brought entertainment to life. at hand.

Unlike the film industries in India, there are no demarcated territories on OTT platforms. As a result, audiences are finally seeing artists on screen who resemble them or share their cultural values, while filmmakers and studios understand the importance of diverse and authentic portrayal. “There is a huge pool of talent in other industries, especially in the South and none of us in the Bollywood and Hindi film industry have had the opportunity to tap into it,” said Krishna DK, co-creator of The Family Man, who set new benchmarks. for Diversity in Indian Cinematic Storytelling, as he explains how creating the web series of spy thrillers on a streaming platform has helped him and Raj Nidimoru preserve the cultural identity of their characters.

As the representation debate continues to wreak havoc in the film industry, the production of original and local content by streaming services has given it an edge over diversity. “Every once in a while you shoot someone and put them in a Hindi movie, but otherwise we really didn’t exploit that, so it just made our set bigger. We were choosing from 10 talented actors in Hindi and now we have 10 talented actors to choose from and 10 more from there, so all of a sudden you’re picking the cream of the crop everywhere, ”DK notes in the Dial M for session. MAMI films.

More inclusive approach to casting

Parambrata Chattopadhyay, one of the most loved and respected actors in Bengali cinema, says that with the emergence of OTT platforms, filmmakers and producers are opening their doors to more diverse talent that could have been overlooked before. “We’ve had the chance to work with a wide range of things, think about different types of audiences, and explore mature content, which was unlikely a few years ago. We met new faces, new talents and new voices, from sixteen to sixty-five. We were able to harness those talents, and that’s the best thing this platform has brought to the modern world, ”said Chattopadhyay, who received immense appreciation for his incredible performances in the original Netflix film Bulbbul and the ZEE5 Black Widows web series.

DK, on ​​the other hand, says that while OTT platforms strive to better reflect diversity, it’s not always easy to make a representative cast. “For example, in the first season of The Family Man, we struggled a bit with the casting for the Kashmir characters because the Kashmir film industry hasn’t thrived or evolved as much as other industries, so it was a little difficult about that sense, but by the time you go south, be it malayalam, tamil or telugu, the industries are so evolved. it’s like you are choosing the best. ”

In an interview last year, Southern star Samantha Akkineni admitted that without OTT platforms, she wouldn’t have made her Hindi debut. The actress delivered a startling performance as Sri Lankan Tamil rebel Raji in The Family Man 2. “The regional cinema exposure has improved a lot as there are a lot of movies on OTT and it opens up more to us. of opportunities. When I was given the opportunity to do a web series and play a different role, I jumped at the opportunity, “Akkineni told the PTI news agency.

Stay true to the spirit of cultures and languages

DK says the most liberating thing about working on an OTT platform is that you can stay true to the spirit of multiple languages ​​and cultures “without having to hold back.” Echoing a similar sentiment, Raj Nidimoru thanks Amazon Prime Video for donating space. to a more diverse ecosystem. “They didn’t say a single word as to why there are so many Tamils ​​in the second season. I’m quoting Vijay Subramaniam (Director and Head of Content at Amazon Prime Video India) when he saw the first scene (of season 1) is set in Malayalam – he said, “This is a real pan-Indian show where we have come as a community of directors and accept India as a whole.” You can put it on. anywhere and use the people from there and use a language and a culture from there. So one of our biggest excitement in doing the Family Man is the fact that you can travel anywhere. with him and being very local in his flavor. But yeah, it might not be easy for all the usual photos, but I guess we were very lucky. “

Democratizing the industry in the true sense of the word

The role of infamous stockbroker Harshad Mehta in the 2020 Scam 1992 web series launched Pratik Gandhi, primarily an actor from Gujarati theater and cinema, into the mainstream space as one of the most requested actors. His incredible transformation and nuanced performance as a controversial stockbroker truly heralded the arrival of fearless talent in mainstream cinema. Speaking about how the show’s immense success changed his life, Pratik previously shared on a Humans of Bombay article: “I had no idea it would get so huge. It was so overwhelming. And when Madam Shabana Azmi told me it was the best performance she had seen in 20 years, I was in tears. It’s been 5 months since Scam came out and my life has taken a 180 degree turn. People now see me as a ‘main actor’. “

Recently, actor-producer Priyanka Chopra Jonas spoke at length about how streaming platforms help break down barriers for those who have traditionally been excluded from the mainstream film industry. “When I started making regional films six years ago, it was still very nascent to go mainstream, but now you can see Indian regional cinema dominating the charts in the US and China. I think there is a massive thirst on the part of South Asian communities to see their own content localized and themselves represented. With the streaming services being able to provide this platform, I think people all over the world will feel represented, ”she said at the launch of ZEE5 in the United States.

Priyanka, who herself has created opportunities for various stories and talents through her production house Purple Pebble Pictures, described the changes taking place in the industry as long overdue. “Now people want to tell great stories that are real and that they identify with. It’s amazing because it gives new writers, actors, and filmmakers the opportunity to step into an industry that has been monopolized for a very long time by a very specific number of people. It really is the perfect time for growth, entertainment and especially Indian cinema. “

Well, without a doubt, streaming services have significantly more diverse histories and talent portrayals than any other media or film industry today. Although the rules of the game are still far from level, the future looks definitely bright.

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