Over the last few years, the Internet has proved to be an appealing and lucrative outlet for interesting and offbeat content, especially for younger viewers. Many short films and web series have grown in popularity over the past couple of years, and with the success of shows such as Permanent Roommates, and Baked, film-makers and actors are now looking to make the most of the digital wave.
From Manoj Bajpayee and Lisa Haydon to Ram Kapoor and Barun Sobti, several actors have been working on a variety of web series and short films. So what is it that makes this trend so interesting?
Content on the web reaches more people, mostly owing to its easy accessibility and availability on various platforms. Barun, who will feature in a new web series called Tanhaiyan, admits that the reach of the web is wider than that of television. “Web series cater to the whole world. One doesn’t have to think about the target audience,” he says. Lisa, who stars in the ongoing web series The Trip, has a similar opinion. “I think the medium is very current. With the online medium, one gets to reach millions of people at the same time,” she says.
Watch: Trailer of web series Tanhaiyan featuring Barun Sobrti and Surbhi Jyoti
Quality Vs Content
While the Internet might let producers and artistes reach more people, the initially niche and offbeat content is quickly changing to cater to the mainstream consumer as more players join the bandwagon. However, artistes hold that quality content will eventually win out on the web, owing to the nature of the medium. Sanjay Suri will soon be seen in Ekta Kapoor’s web series, Dev DD, which is a fresh take on the story of Devdas. He says, “There’s a lot of competition, as many people are exploring the medium. It’s like when Instagram was introduced and everyone became a photographer. The quality of web content will eventually survive. The difference, however, would be that content on the Internet won’t be driven by celebrities. It will be driven by content. Online analytics will prove that content is king.”
Freedom of expression
The Internet also gives artistes creative freedom, unlike films and television shows, which are closely monitored by the censor board. Many producers and actors find the medium interesting, as one can easily upload offbeat content on the web. Nakuul Mehta, who co-produced and acted in a web series titled, I Don’t Watch TV, says, “With so much experimentation on the digital medium, it was the best choice. Though I make my livelihood on TV, I can be creative on the web without any restrictions or judgment.” Film-maker Neeraj Pandey released his first short film, Ouch (2016), starring Manoj Bajpayee and Pooja Chopra. The director says that working on a short film was similar to working on a feature film. However, he adds, “Of course, there is latitude in a short film. You can express [yourself] more freely in such films.”
Watch: Trailer of Ouch featuring Manoj Bajpayee
Unlike in feature films, where budgets are astronomically high, the digital world provides monetary relief to producers and makers. Manoj Bajpayee, who also worked in Shirish Kunder’s short film, Kriti (2016), agrees, saying, “It’s an amazing chance for actors and film-makers. You don’t need to look for any financers or producers. You just pick up a nice, affordable camera, shoot whatever you have to and put it out there.”
Television and film actor Alok Nath, who last year hosted a web series titled, Sinskari, stresses the easy accessibility that content on the web provides. “Online entertainment is easy. One can’t carry a TV set in their pockets. And everyone can’t afford cinema tickets every week, as they are expensive. This is a good way to be entertained.”