Is this an end of star system in this OTT era? Industry experts weigh in
The current pandemic which brought the entertainment industry to a standstill, soon made producers realize that releasing new films digitally was the best option indeed given the shutdown of theatres. And ever since films are beelining to get a release on OTT platforms which many call a necessary option in an extreme situation like this one. But the lack of parameters or rather the absence of transparency to determine a film’s success or failure also means that there is no clarity of which actor’s film fares well than the others, thus making the whole concept of star value a bit sketchy.
Ad filmmaker-turned-Bollywood director Vinil Mathew says since we don’t have any way to gauge or measure the popularity of a film or an actor, “it does kind of dilute and affect the brand value of an actor. I think in the long term till one devices certain kind of parameters and certain kind of benchmarks to how to measure things, there is no way to assess an actor’s value anymore on the basis of his films. A star is a product of theatrical releases and without it obviously it would affect their stardom.”
The lack of box office figure makes the OTTs an entire game of perception management since there is very few authentic data to back.
“Anybody can say that these many people have watched my film on the first three days , they will never reveal that backend statistic and there is no way to authenticate it. Stardom is out of question now. One important component of stardom was pulling people to the theatres, there is nothing like that on an OTT. An Akshay Kumar film and a Kunal Kemmu project is on the same platform. The push, pull and aura of stardom have completely vanished on OTT,” says film marketeer Varun Gupta, Founder Director of MAX Marketing.
Not everyone is complaining about the absence of the concept of star system. Actor Amyra Dastur, who has starred in a web-only released film Rajma Chawal (2018), says it is better now than before because everything is on the basis of word of mouth and whether the audience likes it or not, and no longer about box office collection.
“Who cares about star value anymore. Now you have to do everything based on talent, yes a big star’s name is going to garner more interest but at the end of the day it is all about how good a content is. You don’t care about the numbers, the names-- all you care about is whether it was good or not, just like the earlier times,” shares the actor.
The democratic nature of the OTT platforms is what might make the star system and the concept of star value obsolete, according to Nimrat Kaur.
“It is all very new and different still but it is slowly sinking in. Why do we need those demarcations anyway. Things might go back to how it was when theatres come back in the picture but till then as far as OTTs are concerned there will be no star system,” Kaur muses.
Ad filmmaker Prahlad Kakkar says that the OTTs have made the star system “very open.” “People will respect you if they relate to you, if not then they will diss you. Now with the OTTs there is a breath of fresh air. It is all about content and a star does not matter,” he explains.
“Value is dependent on how you measure it. For both – the actors and us, ” expresses Aparna Acharekar, Programming Head, ZEE5 India, while adding, “We have had plenty of stars whose debut film premiered on the platform and the response has been phenomenal! For instance, Shalini Pandey and Aditya Rawal for Bamfaad received immense appreciation for their roles and we left no stone unturned when it came to talking about their hard-work and the film overall. The reach that we, as a video streaming platform are able to provide not just in India, but globally, is immense, and talent – whether newcomers or established are already seeing this as a huge opportunity.”