ott release

Salman Khan and Disha Patel in a still from “Radhe.” (Spice PR photo)

MUMBAI — The second wave of the pandemic has done what the first could not: bring exhibitors (theater owners) and trade analysts round to the concept that OTT releases will benefit them in the long run.

A leading exhibitor who owns cinemas in Bihar, Vishek Chauhan, told Mid-Day that OTT releases will facilitate cash flow, enable filmmakers to make more films, and ultimately benefit them, the movie hall owners, as well. In a far cry from the militant declaration of retributive measures by some exhibitors on filmmakers last year, he even said that "Sooryavanshi" is "already beginning to look dated." Three more Akshay Kumar films, "Bellbottom," "Prithviraj" and "Raksha Bandhan" have been completed by the star.

The exhibitors now concede that for their business to survive, films must keep being made and they hope that as and when theatres can reopen there will not be a shortage of content. They also admitted that for the survival of cinema, primarily the producers must survive.

In part, this is also endorsed by Carnival Cinema's senior vice-president of operations, Kunal Sawhney, who admitted that while he did not in general approve of films streaming directly on OTT, it also depended on the investment and holding capacity of the producer. He also pointed out that films like "Laxmi" and "Radhe" would have done better in the theatres because people like a "community-viewing experience" more than the film itself.

Vidya Balan's "Sherni" and Shilpa Shetty and Venus' "Hungama 2" are the newest films expected to stream directly on OTT, the former on Amazon Prime Video. The latest to stream directly is "Sardar Ka Grandson" featuring Arjun Kapoor, Rakul Preet Singh and Neena Gupta.

The few "big" (in concept, mounting and presentation) films that have streamed directly on OTT include "Gulabo Sitabo," "Gunjan Saxena" and "Ludo."

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