“Multiplexes and OTTs are here to stay for the long run”

On the strength of original content and price innovations, a new analysis has predicted that India’s over-the-top (OTT) video streaming market may expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 20% to reach $13 billion to $15 billion over the next 10 years. According to ‘All About Screens’, a study by global professional services network Deloitte, paid subscribers are expected to increase at a CAGR of 17% to reach 224 million by 2026 from the current 102 million.

Given the growth and scope of OTT, not surprisingly this media has become a magnate for top notch talent – be it actors, writers, music directors, content creators – besides giving an opportunity to a lot of new talent. The OTT platforms have produced some of the best artisans we have seen in recent years. In recent years, OTT streaming platforms have also seen several big screen actors, who have been missing in action or who are usually seen in small side roles take centerstage and are seeing a revival of sorts.

OTT has completely changed the viewing experience, which has had a profound impact on the Indian cinema business. The quality of content has increased, especially from artists to technicians, writers, and directors. Finding hidden gems like Pankaj Tripathi (‘Sacred Games’, ‘Mirzapur’, ‘Ludo’), Pratik Gandhi (‘Scam 1992’), Jaideep Ahlawat (‘Paatal Lok’), and many others, to  Bobby Deol (‘Ashram’), Sonali Bendre (‘The Broken News’), Sushmita Sen (‘Aarya’), and Raveena Tondon (‘Aranyak’), among many others who have got the opportunities to experiment with their craft.

Speaking on his OTT career, Pankaj Tripathi told Adgully, “Multiplexes and OTTs have their own charm and beauty – both are unique in their own ways. I think both are here to stay for the long run. When people have to watch it along with their family or friends, they will celebrate on the big screen. If they have to just watch it alone and want to have “Me” time, they will watch it on OTT. It’s all about audience choices. What I experienced as an actor is that the story-telling style has changed.”

Continuing further, Tripathi said, “Initially, when OTT had just arrived in India, I am from that first league of some actors who have touched OTT from the very beginning itself. From series like ‘Sacred Games’, ‘Mirzapur’, ‘Criminal Justice’ on Disney+ Hotstar, I am mostly on every platform. Some people used to think that it was similar to TV. Actors used to be picky when acting in OTT. After seeing it have a worldwide reach, it was unbelievable for me that people from different parts of the world were watching it. They call me “Kaleen Bhaiya” (Pankaj Tripathi’s character in ‘Mirzapur’). I was assuming that with this name they don’t hand over my boarding pass!”

Talking to Adgully about her debut on OTT with ‘Dahad’, Sonakshi Sinha said, “I think for me it came at a perfect time. I was at a point in my life where I was finding that very repetitive roles were being offered to me. And I wanted to do something very, very different, out of the box, something that nobody has probably imagined me like, and that’s when it came to me and it was on an OTT platform and without seeing the platform on which it was. It wasn’t theatrical. I went for it because as an actor, it was so satisfying to me to be able to play that character. I think the content right now on OTT platforms is so vast and so wide and so much happening.”

She further added, “Honestly, there are only about seven stories in the world, but there are just many, many different ways to tell them. So, over here, I feel like there’s so much for everyone. And it has really opened up doors worldwide. For example, we're watching Spanish shows, we’re watching Korean shows, they are watching Hindi shows, English shows, so it is just really cutting down a lot of barriers. So, for me that was really very exciting.”

Sharing his perspective as a filmmaker, Imtiaz Ali said, “As a filmmaker, it widens the choice and many filmmakers should be the happiest about digital technology about OTT coming in because you can imagine you imagine stories of different durations and that is the biggest boon. There was a time when we used to struggle with stories about how to finish it in 2 hours. Nowadays, the stories which I am writing for OTT are the stories that were conceived earlier when OTT was not there.”

More Actor Speak

Speaking on her OTT career, Rasika Dugal said, “I owe the fact that because of OTT my work has reached a wider audience, which was not the case earlier. It was catering to the limited audience and I was always hoping for more.”

‘Scam 1992’ fame Pratik Gandhi added here, “I owe this phase of my life to OTT, whatever I am doing right now, my career has taken a different turn after this. Yes, I have been growing up with OTT.”

OTT is here to stay, said Richa Chadha, adding that it is a great place to watch interesting shows, films, documentaries and “actors like us do both series as well as movies”.

Ali Fazal called OTT a “game changer” and agreed that a lot of work has been opened up for technicians, writers, directors. “The canvas has gotten bigger. We are competing with international content, so we have to pull up our socks and create some good content, which we are doing,” he added.

On the other hand, Sonali Bendre doesn’t see much big difference between OTT and mainstream. She said, “For me, the story and the character that I’m playing is important. I’m not in phase to limit myself. I just want to work with new and young voices. I think I have done the work earlier where my character required something like “Akeli na bazzar jaya karo”; now, I want to explore something new and different. I don’t live with my past, now I am looking forward.”

“OTT has been creatively fulfilling my career,” said Shriya Pilgaonkar, adding, “It has been solidified because of opportunities and work here. You can never compare, because most of the time actors are asked what they will choose. I think there is no need to choose as such, we can do both and in OTT so much time you have for character graphs. The things you do with your character are watched by the audience and they can relate to it. And hence, you get more projects to do. Because of OTT I have got more movies to do. Mainstream or non-mainstream – all of these words are changing; the focus is only on the content.”


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