Onir: Big filmmakers should be more considerate towards Indie films to thrive | Bollywood - Hindustan Times

Onir: Big filmmakers should be more considerate towards Indie films to thrive

ByNavya Kharbanda
Aug 12, 2023 01:59 PM IST

Director Onir talks about how big budget films’ release affects the survival of small budget Indie films.

In one of his recent tweets, filmmaker Onir had expressed concerns over the unequal treatment meted out to small- budgeted indie films in the industry. “Big Bollywood releases get so upset when there is another big budget release the same day and they talk about how we should all care for each other in the industry, but don’t think for a second when they deprive a small budget indie film of a tiny number of good shows to survive,” he had written, cryptically calling out filmmaker Karan Johar for tweeting about his film clashing with another big project later this year.

Onir talks about big budget and small indie films
Onir talks about big budget and small indie films

Stating that this glaring inequality becomes apparent during major Bollywood releases, where the race for screens and shows often leaves small budget films with limited or no space, Onir passionately argues that big-budget filmmakers should be more considerate and leave room for indie films to thrive. “There’s a lot of competition between small and big budget movies. One will get 100 to 200 shows, and the other will even have 2000 to 3000 theatres. Filmmakers who make big-budget cinema should be conscious of the fact that people in the small budget film industry also need to survive, and at least help them by leaving some space for them,” he urges.

The 54-year-old goes on the shed light on the struggles faced by independent creators in the fiercely competitive world of cinema. “If you think content is the king, then why would a film like Afwaah, which received great reviews, not get the correct shows and viewership it deserved? At the same time, a film with bad critic reviews becomes unexpectedly popular,” Onir questions, drawing attention to the inconsistency in audience choices.

He stresses that the problem lies not with the audiences viewers opting for OTT over theatres but with the lack of fair opportunities for Indie films that don’t get a fair chance in cinemas. “OTT opens doors for certain films and also for independent creators struggling to find space somewhere. Streaming platforms, in a way, have been more supportive towards diverse content,” he points.

However, the situation takes a dire turn when it comes to cinemas. Here, Onir shares his first-hand experience during a visit to the Kerala Film Festival, where he discovered several Indian films that won prestigious international awards, but still struggled to find takers within the country. “Forget theatres, they don’t even find space on OTT because these platforms are also looking for big starrer films. So, these festival films have to be released on YouTube to reach the audience, but there’s no way for them to generate revenue,” he says with disappointment.

Emphasising on the vicious cycle faced by small budgeted filmmakers, Onir mentions that without access to enough screens and shows, these films fail to attract audiences. “As a result, OTT platforms are also reluctant to feature them, creating a catch-22 situation. If you don’t get the screens and the right shows, you don’t get viewers. And if you do zero business, then even the platforms don’t want to take you,” he laments.

Drawing inspiration from the positive examples set by certain theatres in Maharashtra that reserve shows for Marathi films, Onir proposes the need for regulation about ticket pricing and reserving some shows for small, independent, or local cinema. “Such measures could level the playing field and provide indie films with a fair chance to reach their audience,” he concludes.

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