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Actors, filmmakers support digital release of films

A host of Bollywood actors and filmmakers have backed the decision of the makers of “Gulabo Sitabo” and “Shakuntala Devi” to directly release their films on the streaming platform.

The move to release the two films on Amazon Prime Video has been criticised by theatre chains, INOX and PVR, who said that such a step goes against the tradition of films hitting the cinema houses first.

Filmmaker Hansal Mehta said it is up to the producer to decide whether he wants to release his film on an OTT platform or in theatres and exhibitors should not feel threatened by it.

“The producers and the director want the best for their film. One wants investments to be protected the other wants her/his film to be experienced by maximum people over the longest duration of time. Why should exhibitors feel threatened? You win some, you lose some,” Mehta wrote on Twitter.

“Right now, it is a battle for survival. If producers survive, exhibitors will thrive. Live and let live,” he added.

Mehta maintained that the theatrical experience is not going anywhere despite the challenge it faces from the streaming platforms.

“The big screen will not get replaced by OTT. Audiences will have more choice. They will go to the theatres. Many films will find their audience on OTT. But that is the future. Right now it is a battle for survival. If producers survive exhibitors will thrive. Live and let live,” he added.

Actor Taapsee Pannu believes the entertainment industry is witnessing a paradigm shift, which is both good and bad.

“I guess we are at the brink of witnessing a paradigm shift. All I can say is it’s going to have a lot of collateral… For good for some and bad for others. Let’s just go back to the saying ‘change is the only constant’. The question is who makes the change ‘worth it’,” she said.

Filmmaker Sanjay Gupta said releasing films on digital platforms isn’t a new norm but an exception, given the situation.

“A film is ready for release funded by the producer himself. He doesn’t have deep pockets like the studios. With absolutely no clarity on theatrical release he is left with no choice but to go straight to digital. It’s an exception & not the new norm,” Gupta said.

Writer Apurva Asrani said he is thrilled that films like Gulabo Sitabo , Shakuntala Devi have found a respectable OTT release.

“Films age quickly. Technology changes, prevalent atmospheres change, subjects once relevant can become stale. Imperative that films release is timely, else money & efforts of many go down the drain. Exhibitors must support the survival of cinema right now. #LaxmmiBomb #GulaboSitabo

“Is this a fight for cinema? Or is it a fight to save a multiplex feature that sells popcorn & nachos?,” he said.

Actor-Filmmaker Pooja Bhatt raised a pertinent question of safety of the audience and anything beyond this is secondary at the moement.

“Question-Do theatres run movies or do movies run theatres? Content is king. The platform is secondary. People’s safety MUST take priority over profitability. If we truly care for our audience, we need to take the movies to them. Not lure them to theatres until we can guarantee safety,” she tweeted.

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