Madhur Bhandarkar on films releasing on OTT platforms: Why should producers be deprived of a good deal?
As the OTT versus theatre debate gathers steam with producers opting for digital release as opposed to theatrical, filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar feels that both sides need to lend an ear to each other instead of standing at loggerheads.
He says, “All these movies that have been officially announced to come on the web, were made for theatres. OTT is the second option for producers. Amid this coronavirus situation, everything is in a limbo. There are films that are ready for release, but theatres aren’t open. The producers have to take a call now.”
Bhandarkar calls this a global phenomenon and points how even major Hollywood production houses are opting for digital or video on demand release given the situation.
“So, why should the producers be deprived of a good deal,” he asks, and continues, “There is so much of uncertainty and producers don’t want their film to get stale. We also don’t know when theatres will open, what percentage of occupancy will be allowed, whether people will be comfortable going to theatres or will have the same purchasing power as before.”
The 51-year-old, however, doesn’t deny that every filmmaker dreams to get a theatrical release and don’t want to see someone watching it on a mobile phone or laptop.
“But, these producers have invested so much in the film. They take loans from banks and private funders and the delay in release would mean piling up of the interest. How much capacity a producer has to hold the film is also to be considered. So, if they’re getting a reasonable price and after calculating the risks, then it’s fine to opt for web,” he says.
Having said that, Bhandarkar sympathises with the theatre owners, too, as he feels every theatre owner wants that the films with big stars should release on the big screen so that they have a good run.
“They’re bleeding as well, though there are those big films that are being held. But, some producers don’t have holding power, so you’ve to look at holistic manner. You can’t say that ‘bech di picture’. The magic of big screen will be there. Both the OTT platforms and the theatres were co-existing for the last three years and were doing well, so why not now?” he asks.