In today’s day and age, many films are flopping in theatres and are working well on OTT platforms, and the same holds true for women-centric films, as per Monika Shergill, Vice-President, Content, Netflix.
Shergill said that in today’s time more films are reaching audiences through OTT platforms than through a cinema hall.
On July 29, the International Advertising Association (IAA), India chapter, hosted a summit on gender sensitisation in media. The session on gender-conscious creativity in OTT and cinema had panellists including Shergill, Nandita Das, Actor, Director, Producer; Vibha Bakshi, Filmmaker and Journalist; Aniruddha Roy Chowdhary, Producer and Director, talking about gender equality behind the camera as well as in front of it with Anupama Chopra, Film critic, and Author, acting as the moderator.
On the question of who actually drives the change, Nandita Das said, “It is tough to answer. We are all part of the ecosystem. It is more like the concept of chicken and egg. The filmmakers say that this is what the audience likes, while the audiences say that this is what we are offered. We are all responsible for this change. It is a collective issue.”
“Pandemic has made a change, the alpha films are making it to the theatre. While the films we make end up on OTT platforms. We also want our films to be watched on big screens. It is made for the cinema. People watch it on their devices. Audiences should support more films that talk about various sensitivities.”
Countering this point made by Das, Shergill said, “I really want to understand and challenge the hierarchy in the filmmaker's mind that if something goes to the theatre, it is better. And if something goes to streaming, then it is like a step-down. We have more than 8,000 cinema halls in the country, a population of approximately 1.4 billion people, only 2% of the Indian population goes to the theatre. There is a stigma amongst people and filmmakers, that big films go to the theatre, but if you see 9/10 films are flopping in the theatrical release.”
"The access to stories that streaming has given is phenomenal and that is what is driving the change. The films on OTT platforms travel the world. Eventually, the theatrical releases end up on OTT platforms. This changes the scenario, be it the narrative of the people behind the camera. Filmmakers need to get this off their heads that if a film is having an OTT release it is not a huge release. The film will reach more people through platforms like us.”
The industry at large is supporting female talent working behind the camera. All the OTT platforms and creative production houses have female leadership in place to get the gender narrative ahead and break the bias towards female voices.
Aniruddha Roy Chowdhary shared his struggles while making his initial films which were female-centric. He spoke about not getting financed for his film ‘Pink’, which is about consent and features actors Taapsee Pannu and Amitabh Bachchan in lead roles. Chowdhary wanted to showcase his stories where there are ‘sheroes’, as he has been brought up amongst them and he wanted to show the same to the world.
Vibha Bakshi spoke about documentary filmmaking and the challenges around it. Bakshi made ‘Daughter of Mother India’ in 2015, which was supported by Viacom 18. She said that it requires a constant effort to bring a change, moreover, it will require conviction, commitment and action to get this.