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Shekhar Kapur On Bollywood Post-Lockdown!



Shekhar Kapur On Bollywood Post-Lockdown! 12

Is  the digital platform a viable and perhaps only  antidote to the  bludgeoning  blow dealt to the Indian entertainment industry by the Coronavirus?

 Director Shekhar Kapur has a pertinent poser on the  Digital-Versus-Theatre  debate raging in  Bollywood: “Would the average moviegoer  be willing to brave a visit to  the  movie theatre? Would  the producer so eager for theatres  to re-open take his family to a  movie in the theatres?”

Kapur who  has made internationally acclaimed  films such as The Bandit Queen and Elizabeth paints  a bleak scenario  for the average theatre-going movie patron. “Imagine going to a theatre if they open now. How do you get there? If you go by your own car, will there be a parking attendant ?Then you go through a Covid testing screen. Then security.Then only every 4th seat can be occupied …need 3 seats (6 feet) in-between empty.Now if in the middle of an emotional scene , some one in the theatre starts coughing , are you going to stay ?If your Arogya Setu App proves you are  live-in partners .. then you could sit together !So now tell me, would you go to the theatre ?Or watch  Netflix at home?Drive-in theatres could make a comeback as they are in the rest of the world.”

 Given the scenario , several filmmakers are looking  at  going straight to the OTT platform rather than  waiting for the  situation to normalize in  movie theatres.

“They have  no choice,” says  internationally celebrated  filmmaker Shekhar Kapur. “I  don’t think theatres  will fully open for another year. And  if they are to follow rules of social distancing, the theatres will sell less tickets. So the days of multi-crore theatrical  boxoffice  in one week  or weekend are over”

 Shekhar Kapur  feels  given the state of the economy there will be less and less people willing to spend and risk going to theatres. “Transport will be an issue too. It will drive actors and directors’ prices down. Unfortunately there’s huge capital-investment in the film business on films pending release , some even not completed. All depending on the theatrical model that was. Theatrical model that will not be  a feasible model any more.”

Here’s where  the digital  platform steps in to rescue the  film industry from  doom.

 Says  Shekhar, “Due to huge cost of financing involved, these theatres will be forces to release on OTT platforms. Netflix for example, is already overloaded in their programming with unreleased theatrical films.So yes, I’m afraid, the film industry, like other industries, is facing huge losses.We don’t know yet how many film workers, theatrical workers, were part of the unorganised labour sector, so even completing films maybe an issue.Except there are OTT platforms of course , but with completely lower price models.”

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