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Films such as Aamir Khan’s Laal Singh Chadha and Taapsee Pannu’s Do Baaraa are doing surprisingly well on streaming platforms after failing to make their mark at the box office.

At last count, Laal Singh Chadha was viewed for 1.9 million hours on Netflix, remaining in the top 10 list of non-English films globally for four weeks. Do Baaraa also made it to the list, with 3.7 million viewing hours. Trade experts say this reflects the reluctance of audiences to go to cinemas when they presume films will be available to stream at home within a few weeks, even if they are interested in them. However, the disadvantage for the films is that their acquisition rates are fixed on their box office collections.

“We are creatures of habit that are now accustomed to consuming content in our living rooms and comfortable with the screen size. So, cinema-going as an experience will need to be elevated to pull in crowds to theatres. However, OTT (over-the-top) is available anytime and anywhere, and these films mark a diverse range of titles," said Zubin Dubash, chief operating officer of digital businesses at Shemaroo Entertainment Ltd. Two films have stood out in Gujarati cinema this year—Fakt Mahilao Maate and Naadi Dosh—and “both are available on ShemarooMe. But others that didn’t meet box office expectations include films like Sonu Tane Mara Par Bharoso Nai Ke, Tu Raaji Re and 53 Mu Panno. However, all these films have found a welcome reception with our audiences on OTT performing as well as the blockbusters," Dubash added.

Theatre going is not much of a priority anymore, said Akshay Bardapurkar, founder of streaming platform Planet Marathi. “A lot of people don’t want to spend weekends in the city anymore. Plus, word spreads on social media so fast that nobody feels like they’re missing anything," Bardapurkar said. The benefit for OTT platforms, on the other hand, is the film has already been marketed to an extent for theatrical release, and audiences are aware of it, he added.

After the pandemic, there has been a clear choice that the audience is making for films that they want to watch in theatres and films that they can wait and watch later on OTT, said Gautam Jain, a partner at media consulting firm Ormax. “Most of these films were made keeping the pre-pandemic audience in mind. They did not offer scale, visual grandeur, and entertainment; hence did not excite the audience for big screen viewing. Since there is a huge overlap between the theatrical audience and OTT audience, films that don’t work at the box office do tend to get viewership online," Jain said. Platforms do correlate the acquisition fee with the box office performance, and if a film does not work at the box office, it does impact the revenue from digital rights, he added.

Dubash agreed box office collections are a clear indicator of the response to the film.

Mousumi Mishra, associate director, music partnerships at social media platform ShareChat and short video app Moj said

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lata Jha

Lata Jha covers media and entertainment for Mint. She focuses on the film, television, video and audio streaming businesses. She is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism. She can be found at the movies, when not writing about them.
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