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New Delhi: Malayalam film Erida has skipped the wait for theatres to reopen and is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video. The film has been directed by VK Prakash and stars Antony and Jennifer Antony in lead roles.

To be sure, Amazon has premiered a range of regional language films over the past few months, including Suriya’s Soorarai Pottru, Jyothika’s Ponmagal Vandhal, sports action film Sarpatta Parambarai, Telugu films Narappa and Tuck Jagadish and Malayalam films Joji, Kuruthi and Cold Case. Rivals Netflix and Disney+ Hotstar are also bolstering their south Indian libraries.

Movies in the four south Indian languages, including their dubbed Hindi versions, are bringing big returns for streaming platforms, contributing to 10-25% of overall viewership, following the trend of their popularity on satellite television. While niche, experimental films have been discovered beyond their native states on one hand, mass-market offerings starring top names such as Dhanush, Rajinikanth, Allu Arjun on platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ Hotstar and MX Player have also grabbed eyeballs, as families come together to watch stars.

Action, thriller and romance remain big genres, followed by drama and horror. While the southern industries bet big on larger-than-life characters and mainstream entertainment, the pandemic has also opened up possibilities to take the digital route for many films that could not wait for theatrical showcasing.

With theatres having reopened in key territories now, a number of filmmakers are looking at locking dates for theatrical releases. However, the backlog over the past year-and-a-half may result in inadequate showcasing for several ready projects. Though trade experts say the resumption of big-screen releases will gradually mean an end to the aggressive turn video streaming platforms had taken to acquire films for direct digital premieres, some producers are likely to take the OTT route for projects that may not find viable showcasing in cinemas.

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