As the second wave of COVID-19 hits India, the future of films releasing in theatres is again facing a bleak way ahead. With OTTs brimming with content, Manoj Bajpayee opens up on why digital is the way to go for the next few years and his upcoming film silence
You have a new release on the digital platform?
Yes, Silence: Can You Hear It. It is directed by Aban Bharucha Deohans whom I know from the time I used to hang around with her husband the celebrated cinematographer Kiran Deohans. They are like family.
My wife Shabana and I often meet up with Kiran and Aban. Kiran shot another film of mine Hanan. We are quite close. Aban was always fascinated by the whodunit genre. She told me about this script a year and a half ago. I was looking for a gap in my schedule to accommodate the film. Now here I am. I play a cop investigating a murder.
Do you see the OTT platform as a viable alternative for the movie-theatre experience?
At this moment I see no other viable option. The Government had announced a 100 percent capacity of audience attention. Then seeing the second wave of Corona they again reduced it to fifty per cent. For a very long time in the coming months and years, the OTT is going to be the only viable medium of entertainment.
Is the OTT the only ahead for our cinema industry?
If you want to call it the way ahead, I would say it is the way ahead. The OTT is a sea of entertainment to choose from. People have been consuming content in the OTT platform day-in and day out. To just be working at a time like this is a blessing for me. It’s great to be a part of such varied stories and to be working with talented directors who want to work with me. I am glad to remain relevant after so many years.
What is the truth about Family Man going in for auto-correction to comply with the new guideline?
Lots of speculation on that. If you want to know the truth then here it is. Not a word, not a shot has been auto-corrected. There is no change. The series is complete. It’s right now lying in a safe house waiting for a date to start streaming. The Family Man doesn’t have one objectionable word. It tells you the story of a common man who has to balance a very demanding job with a very demanding family. There is not a word that has been changed. I hope you will help me put all speculation to rest.
What do you think about the new I & B guidelines for the OTT platforms?
As far as I understand it, the OTT platforms are expected to form their self-monitoring committees. Fair enough. I would request these platforms to be sensitive to the creative material and not base their revisions of the content on assumptions. They should be very careful in their regulation. The biggest beauty of the OTT lies in its creative freedom. We must always value and preserve that freedom.
Are your shootings affected by your COVID condition?
Of course! 2-3people being infected on one set means that the whole shooting is called off. And that will have a snowballing effect on my entire shooting schedule for the next year or so. Each and every schedule of my forthcoming films is affected.
Image source: SpotboyE archives