Girl power on rise: Female-led stories rule the roost on OTT space
There’s a very ‘haseen’ twist coming in the world of OTT, and it’s not seeping in a ‘hush-hush’ way. For the uninitiated, the hint is towards web projects such as Haseen Dillruba, with Taapsee Pannu in the lead and upcoming web series, Hush Hush, which is led by an all-women cast and crew.
If these two, and over a dozen more such projects are any indicator, the winds of change — pushing female-led content at the forefront — are blowing strong on the web space. And it’s redefining the narrative and bringing forward various shades of womanhood.
“The change is long overdue but it’s heartening to see more female-led stories. OTT has been an equaliser in more ways than one. What’s still considered risky or unpopular in cinema, is a part of the mainstream on the web,” says actor Kritika Kamra, who was seen in Tandav and is working on web series Hush Hush.
So, if there’s Vidya Balan roaring aloud in Sherni, there’s also Kirti Kulhari breaking stereotypes around marriage in Shaadisthan. Not long ago, Huma Qureshi impressed all with her act in Maharani and Sanya Malhotra broke taboos with Pagglait.
Glad that the female narrative is finally getting its due, Kulhari shares, “The writing has got so better, with right representation happening in the OTT space. And females make 50% of the population, so it’s only right. Also, the space is all about the content, and you don’t need to have faces or stars.”
Skater Girl director Manjari Makijany believes that the wide audience base on the web also drives the change.
“An independent film like ours would’ve had a hard time navigating the traditional distribution channel. With OTT, we got a worldwide release and it’s actually better than having a theatrical distribution,” she opines.
There are large number of OTT projects which come with a spotlight on women — be it Sonakshi Sinha’s and Raveena Tandon’s impending OTT debut project, or the already released titles such as Delhi Crime, Hundred, Aarya, Four More Shots Please!, She, Bhaag Beanie Bhaag, and Bombay Begums.
Kamra lauds the female stakeholder for the change and notes that there’s diversity, innovation and sensitivity in stories coming out on the web.
“The credit goes to women leading this change, the decision-makers, filmmakers and writers who’ve persisted and are finally getting the platform and the audience to tell authentic women stories,” she points.
Some also feel that OTT content being more nuanced and layered helps actors explore characters beyond stereotypical portrayals.
Elaborating on it, Shefali Shah points there’s no “hero” here as each and every character holds importance.
“OTT gives you the liberty to diversify and try different items. It doesn’t depend on the box office or star power, which is the biggest advantage. That’s why it has opened a new horizon for all creative people,” she shares.
That being said, actor Maanvi Gagroo wants the bifurcation of female-led stories to go away and wonders if a man has ever been asked about the importance of male led stories or its contribution to cinema.
“The world isn’t male alone, so why should cinema be? Stories about women, told from a female perspective, will only make the viewer richer, experientially. I’m pretty sure even the audience is tired of watching the same stories,” says Gagroo.
Echoing similar sentiment, Kulhari agrees there’s still a long way to go, adding, “there’s so much more to do and represent.” Keeping her fingers crossed, Kamra hopes “to see truthful representation and no tokenism or sensationalism” on the web space.