Among the many joys the pandemic robbed from us, the never-fading delight of walking into a dimly-lit theatre with a bucket full of warm popcorn to watch a new movie is perhaps on the top of the list for many.
The way films are distributed, released and consumed has witnessed a dramatic shift since the Covid-19 outbreak. Unlike the much-publicised, housefull releases which set the box office ringing, movies in 2020, quietly found their way onto OTT platforms.
Within the Malayalam film industry, Trance, Halal Love Story, Kappela, Sufiyum Sujatayum, C U Soon and Maniyarayile Ashokan released digitally signalling a new era in entertainment consumption.
With many livelihoods dependent on box office collections, experts across the board hope theaters start functioning again. Even so, there is a clear acknowledgment of the prominence on-demand streaming websites have garnered and the role they have played in sustaining the film industry. “Creators have started to see both theatres and OTT platforms as mediums to reach the audience.
While theatres ensure extensive reach to root levels of each territory, OTT provides global scope and convenience. They will continue to coexist and compliment each other’s growth. With the precedent that has been set over the last few months, filmmakers will not be hesitant to consider alternate channels. Hence we will see exclusive OTT releases going forward as well,” says Harshad Ali, producer of Halal Love Story.
Although the advent of streaming sites like Netflix and Amazon Prime a few years back were seen as platforms to view international content until then inaccessible to the Indian audience, the focus now seems to have shifted to producing more regional content that caters to non-urban users.
“While there has been a huge growth in consumption for short form video content, especially among the younger audience, I believe in the long run, a regional OTT players can appeal to a much wider audience,” says Radhakrishnan Ramachandran, founder and CEO of entertainment network Studio Mojo which recently launched an exclusive Malayalam OTT website called Koode.