Actor Manoj Bajpayee’s film Bhonsle received rave reviews upon its recent release on an OTT platform. And while quite a few big-bidget films, including Bhuj: The Pride of India and Laxmmi Bomb, will also have to skip a theatrical release due to the Covid-19 shutdown, Bhonsle’s director, Devashish Makhija says he’ll prefer this to be the case going forward too, with his films.
He explains, “Theatres never cared for our films even if they did release. They took our money and sank our films. For a Bhonsle, it has always been a foregone conclusion that we’d have only found our audiences on OTTs. I never held out hope, and even told my producers ‘If you don’t manage a theatrical, excuse my French, but I don’t give a f**k’ because theatres don’t care for my films.”
Though a variety of films being released on OTT platforms also means that there’d be a level playing field,Makhija still feels that theatres would never die.
“They’ll find a different way to survive. You don’t want to watch a film like Avengers on a laptop. That consumption of big budget films will return. I don’t know if it’s a level playing field, for now, but it’s not a permanent argument,” he opines.
Stressing that comparatively smaller films might “never make it back to cinema halls”, the director adds, “I’m very happy. I don’t want to be at the mercy of theatres. Really! If big budget continue getting made, most of them can be green screen with four actors inside a studio. Theatres aren’t going anywhere, they’ll return. Level playing field kabhi nahi hone wala.”
Makhija further shares how the loss of the ecosystem is dangerous for a film like Bhuj, because you don’t have numbers on an OTT, and the platform doesn’t tell you. “You’re scrolling, and you have a Bhosle next to an Inception or a Bhuj. How do you know which is being watched? If I talk about myself, I’m very relieved that I finally have a place where people can find my films. If I can help it, I never want my films to release in theatres, because people don’t take the trouble to come,” Makhija states boldly.
To explain his point, he recounts an incident: “When my film Ajji released, after three days, the theatres stopped giving us shows and cancelled. I spoke to one of them owners, and they said ‘Your film isn’t popcorn friendly, people feel so bad about themselves, they don’t get up from their seats to buy popcorn’ .Why would I want my films to play in theatres?”
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