Not just filmmakers and seasoned actors, now the production giants too want a piece of the digital cake. Mainstream film studios are now trying out their hand at over-the-top web services and this is why
HYDERABAD: Cinema - one of the biggest influences on the masses. It’s a business, a culture and a lifestyle. Behind the scenes for this empire is the goliath production houses shelling out the monies and making those mega movies. Lately most of these houses seem to be expanding their territory. While movies stay the big money churning machinery, a smaller segment operates to create content in the new entertainment world - digital. Production houses which have already proved their might at the box office and are still going at it are showing interest in the latest trend of web series and OTT mediums (Over The Top).
Now, Netflix’s Sacred Games and Amazon Prime’s Made in Heaven are what the Hindi web front has showcased to a success. Sacred Games produced by Phantom Films while Excel Entertainment (Farhan and Zoya Akhtar’s production house) produced the much talked-about Made in Heaven, Mirzapur and earlier Inside Edge. Now here down south major production houses which work with superstars on the cinema front are simultaneously putting in money for web.
On one hand, Annapurna Studios produces a high-budget commercial movie like Manmadhudu 2 and on the other, is producing the third season of the light-hearted easy going web series like Pelli Gola 3 and Ee Office Lo. “Many would say that the lines are blurring but digital and film are two different markets. If your film does well, then you don’t land ten web series, and vice versa. Movies are two hours of content tightly packed for the audience to experience, while web series are content that the audience travel with and which has to keep them engaged over a period of a month or so. Both have to be done in their own way, they have to be strategised differently,” weighs in Abhijit, the protagonist of the series, who has worked with Annapurna for three seasons over three years.
Of 139 million subscribers globally, Netflix has about 59 million subscribers in the US as compared to 170 million pay-TV homes (100 million cable TV and 70 million DTH) in India. It is no wonder then that production houses have seen the interest in this medium as well. “There is viewership here. The numbers say it all. There is so much potential in this new medium and so much scope for new talent to emerge through here,” says
Geetha who was a part of production from Vyjayanthi Movies for the first Telugu original on Amazon Prime, Gangstars. She also adds, “As far as work involved is concerned it is pretty similar to that of a movie. May be the sets aren’t as big in scale but the nature of work is the same.”
Shalini Nambu, the creative head for Northstar Entertainment and the executive producer for The Grill, the series they are producing for Viu also concurs. “People are not stomaching anything you throw at them anymore. With them watching international content, the standards have increased. The production value must stay on par with that.
The first web series we are producing is as good as a small to medium budget film. The biggest difference I can think of is that the funding is already allotted by the OTT and the only thing left to do is create great output.” “Moreover, as a production house, by being open to digital we would have another medium to rely upon. We will be able to tell the stories better. If there is a subject that might not be showcased well as a feature film, there is a possibility that it might as a web film or series. So, stepping into digital would only add a resource and audience to a production house,” she observes
While production houses are tying up with OTTs to create content, there are some like Balaji Motion Pictures and Zee Entertainment which have built themselves a entity just for the sake of digital content. We here in Telugu have not gotten there yet, but by the looks of how we are following suit of the mainstream Bollywood production empires so far, that too doesn’t seem like distant future.
— Srividya Palaparthi