The pandemic has shut down the theatres and production houses are left with completed films with an uncertain release date. But, this is where OTT platforms have stepped up. Platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hotstar have been releasing more content than ever since the lockdown began. Many production houses who have stayed traditional in the past with theatres are rethinking their options.
Producers Guild of India said in a statement that producers are having to deal with the mounting interest costs on money raised to fund the movies. Having to bear the burden of uncertainty regarding theatre reopening is also troubling. However, theatres are likely to be the last sector to be permitted to open to the public.
Many film actors have agreed with theatre owners in the discontent in online releases. Actress Parineeti Chopra recently said that releasing films on OTT platforms is a compromise and she would hate it if her films were released online. On the other hand, Richa Chadha said that she doesn't differentiate between webspace and theatres.
Many filmmakers and producers have chosen to release their films online on account of the financial difficulties. But, this move is ultimately troublesome as there will be no chances of becoming a blockbuster or hit movie.
Many theatre owners are against the move even among the uncertainty. Inox Leisure said that it is disappointed to see the producers not continuing the mutually beneficial relationship which exhibition industry and content creators share. INOX has warned to take "certain actions against content creators". PVR, even though they are disappointed, pointed out that this is not the first time Hindi movies are being released online.
While the debate is going on, many Indian films have already been released on OTT platforms and few more are on the way. Here are some of the best ones in the lot.
Gulabo Sitabo, a comedy-drama starring Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurana was released on Amazon Prime Video on June 12, 2020. The Shoojit Sircar movie backed by the reliable screenplay of Juhi Chaturvedi received critical acclaim and positive public opinion. The film was initially scheduled to release in November 2019. But it was later postponed February 2020 and April 2020. The pandemic put a stop to the plans and the official trailer of the movie was launched by Amazon Prime Video on May 22.
Shakuntala Devi is a biographical film based on the life of mathematician Shakuntala Devi also known as the human-computer. The film directed by Anu Menon was set for a theatrical release on May 8 which did not happen due to the pandemic. Now, the movie is scheduled to stream worldwide on Amazon Prime Video on July 31. Lead actress Vidya Balan said that she is happy about the release on the OTT platform. Other significant cast members are Jisshu Sengupta, Sanya Malhotra, and Amit Sadh.
Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl is another biographical film produced by Dharma Productions and Zee Studios. Janhvi Kapoor will be seen as Indian Air Force pilot Gunjan Saxena who is the first-ever Indian women airforce pilot in combat. Netflix will be streaming the movie worldwide and the OTT platform acquired the distribution rights for Rs 70 crores. The movie was scheduled to release in theatres on March 13 and later postponed to April 24 due to the lockdown. However, the plan was dropped and Netflix acquired the rights. The OTT platform released a teaser on June 9.
Another Hindi film headed for OTT platform release is Laxmmi Bomb. It is the remake of Muni 2: Kanchana starring Akshay Kumar and Kiara Advani. The comedy horror film is directed by Raghava Lawrence. The film was scheduled to hit theatres on May 22, 2020. But the pandemic has put a stop to the plan and now it will stream worldwide on Disney+Hotstar. The release date is not yet announced.
Dil Bachaara starring Sushant Sing Rajput and Sanjana Sanghi is also heading for an online release on Disney+Hotstar. Sushant Singh Rajput's untimely death by suicide has led to an intense emotional response for the trailer which was released a few days ago. The movie is based on the novel 'The Fault in Our Stars' by John Green. The duo plays cancer patients in the film. Dil Bachaara will be released on July 24.
This upcoming war film is also heading for an online release on Disney+Hotstar due to the lockdown. The plot is set during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971 and revolves around the IAF Squadron leader Vijay Karnik who was in charge of the Bhuj airport at the time. Karnik is known for reconstructing the airbase with the help of 300 local women. The film stars Ajay Devgan, Sanjay Dutt, Sonakshi Sinha, Nora Fatehi, Sharad Kelkar, Ammy Virk, and Pranitha Subhash.
The Big Bull is another biographical film starring Abhishek Bachchan, Ileana D'cruz, Ram Kapoor, and Nikita Dutta. The movie will be streamed worldwide on Disney+Hotstar due to the pandemic. The plot is based on the life of stockbroker Harshad Mehta and his financial crimes over the span of 10 years, from 1980 to 1990. He is known as the man who sold dreams to India.
Ludo is a multi-starrer being saved by OTT giant Netflix in the time of corona. The movie was set to release in theatres on April 24 but had to cancel due to the pandemic. The cast includes Anurag Basu, casting Abhishek Bachchan, Rajkummar Rao, Aditya Roy Kapur, Sanya Malhotra, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Pankaj Tripathi and Rohit Suresh Saraf. However, there has been no update about when the movie will be streamed online.