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NEW DELHI: Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions will premiere its war drama Shershaah starring Sidharth Malhotra directly on Amazon Prime Video on 12 August. Directed by Vishnuvardhan, the film traces the life journey of Param Vir Chakra awardee and army captain Vikram Batra and stars Kiara Advani along with Malhotra.

Though film trade experts said the resumption of releasing Bollywood films in theatres will gradually end trend of direct release on over the top video streaming platforms, some producers are taking the OTT route for finished projects that may not find adequate showcasing in the near future. Theatres in key territories like Delhi and Maharashtra remain shut.

Netflix which has also acquired Kartik Aaryan’s Dhamaka, has already premiered titles such as Taapsee Pannu’s Haseen Dilruba and Parineeti Chopra-starrer The Girl On The Train earlier this year.

Trade analysts and entertainment industry experts said digital has emerged stronger than ever before during the pandemic and is unlikely to go away any time soon, despite theatre owners urging filmmakers to release films for big screens to help in the recovery of the industry.

Medium- and small-budget films will always have that option now to go directly to a streaming platform whereas the big films that need theatrical validation to fully recoup their investments will obviously not see OTT as a viable strategy, trade experts point out. Among other titles, Akshay Kumar’s Sooryavanshi and sports drama ’83 are preparing for theatrical releases.

Further, the economics make sense. For second-rung stars, producers may not see sense in spending an additional 8-10 crore for publicity and advertising on a film made on a budget of 15 crore when a streaming platform is ready to cough up around 20 crore with no distribution or marketing costs. It helps to keep the business cycle going when a production house has bigger films in the pipeline that it has to fund, trade experts say.

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