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Kerala to soon unveil country’s first state-owned OTT platform

Feb 12, 2024 07:42 AM IST

C-Space comes at a time when Malayalam cinema is finding resonance in different parts and corners of India and the world thanks to the existing OTT giants like Netflix and Amazon Prime

Kochi: C-Space, the first state-owned over-the-top (OTT) platform in India, is expected to be unveiled by the Kerala government next month, said a top state government official.

Shaji N Karun, national-award-winning director and chairman of Kerala State Film Development Corporation, said the over-the-top (OTT) platform would stream the kind of “varied” or “different” films made in Malayalam that deserve to reach a global viewership. (HT Archives)
Shaji N Karun, national-award-winning director and chairman of Kerala State Film Development Corporation, said the over-the-top (OTT) platform would stream the kind of “varied” or “different” films made in Malayalam that deserve to reach a global viewership. (HT Archives)

The platform, built under the banner of the Kerala State Film Development Corporation (KSFDC) using funds from the state government, has been envisaged to provide a fillip to award-winning films, short films and documentaries as well as open possibilities for low-budget independent cinema to reach a wider audience.

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“Currently at our film festivals, the local Malayalam flicks are viewed only by the delegates. Even if they go on to be released theatrically, only people in Kerala are able to watch them. For example, the films presented at the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) or those winning state awards should get a wider audience. We need to bring cinema to people, that’s our responsibility,” Shaji N Karun, national-award-winning director and chairman of KSFDC, told HT.

Terming the OTT platform as a ‘parallel cultural move’, Karun said it would stream the kind of ‘varied’ or ‘different’ films made in Malayalam that deserve to reach a global viewership. “Our objective is to improve the quality of our audience. Right now, in Kerala, Tamil and Telugu films are the highest grossers in theatres. We want to help change the behaviour pattern of the audience,” he said.

C-Space comes at a time when Malayalam cinema is finding resonance in different parts and corners of India and the world thanks to the existing OTT giants like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Known for realistic storytelling and content-driven scripts, Malayalam films led by its new-age actors and technicians are able to transcend the language barriers and cultivate new fans.

An example of this is the film “2018: Everyone is a hero”, a terrific survival drama based on the actual incidents during the massive floods in Kerala in 2018 that displaced millions of people and killed nearly 500. The film went on to become the highest-grossing flick in Malayalam and was chosen by the Film Federation of India as the country’s official entry into the Oscars in the international feature film category. Though the film failed to make it to the shortlist, it underscored the rising importance of Malayalam cinema and the potential it holds.

Unlike other OTT giants, C-Space will feature only Malayalam-language content that may or may not have gotten a theatrical release. The decision to allow a particular content on the platform rests with an experienced panel of 60 curators who comprise historians, filmmakers, writers and those working in different facets of the film industry.

“If a three-member panel recommends a film or documentary, it will be accepted. This way, the characteristics of the film will be evaluated. There are parameters for a work of art everywhere, including in award shows,” pointed out Karun, whose debut film ‘Piravi’ in 1988 won honours at the Cannes film festival as well as the state and national film awards in India.

But what really sets C-Space apart from other OTT sites is its revenue model whereby the producer of the content gets a regular source of income generated from each time his/her film is viewed. The filmmaker can even nominate a person belonging to his family to receive the revenue share. There are no registration costs at the time of the content being uploaded on the platform.

“There is a cost of almost 50% we are bearing to ensure technical aspects of a film, rental cost, quality upgrades, website maintenance etc. The remaining 50% of the revenue from a film being streamed will go to its producer. If it’s a director who got a state or national award, a share of the revenue will be given for intellectual rights of the film as well. This is a creator-friendly platform in that sense where we are giving them a slice of the revenue,” said the KSFDC chairman.

The payment model for a viewer, he said, will be on the pay-per-view basis. “A viewer will have to shell out around 75 to watch one film which is much less than what she pays in theatres. In the future, we will have monthly or yearly subscription options depending on the response,” he said.

Like the first Chalachitra Akademi in India took birth in Kerala, C-Space is also a revolutionary product that aims to become a digital archive for arthouse local cinema, those behind the project say. Over 100 hours of content have already been uploaded on the platform and will be available to viewers at the time of its launch, officials said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Vishnu Varma is Assistant Editor and reports from Kerala for the Hindustan Times. He has 10 years of experience writing for print and digital platforms and has worked at The New York Times, NDTV and The Indian Express in the past. He specialises in longform reportage at the intersections of politics, crime, social commentary and environment.

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