1 min read.Updated: 27 Jul 2021, 11:15 AM ISTLata Jha
Indian movie channels are looking at a mix of direct-to-television films and quick premieres of popular and niche movies to build on family audiences acquired during the covid-19 lockdown
NEW DELHI: With covid-19 pandemic having disrupted the film exhibition business, producers are trying out new ways to get maximum reach. Tamil political drama Tughlaq Darbar starring Vijay Sethupathi will premier directly on Sun TV this September, followed by a release on streaming platform Netflix, later on the same day.
Written and directed by debutant Delhi Prasad Deenadayal, with screenplay and dialogues written by Balaji Tharaneetharan, the film also stars Parthiban, Raashi Khanna, Manjima Mohan and Gayathrie.
To be sure, Indian movie channels are looking at a mix of direct-to-television films and quick premieres of popular and niche movies to build on family audiences acquired during the covid-19 lockdown and fight the relatively more popular and emerging medium of streaming platforms.
Last year, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd launched its pay-per-view service Zee Plex that had partnered with DTH (direct-to-home) players such as Dish D2H, Tata Sky and Airtel Digital TV as well as entities in the international market besides being available on the company’s OTT platform ZEE5. Titles already available on the service through the pay-per-view strategy include Salman Khan’s Radhe, Ishaan Khatter and Ananya Pandey-starrer Khaali Peeli and Vijay Sethupathi’s Ka Pae Ranasingam.
Zee had also announced Footfairy, an original film for &pictures, its movie channel while south Indian company Sun Network had greenlit two films for direct-to-TV premieres, especially with the aim to grab eyeballs during the festive season where people may miss big-ticket movie releases in theatres.
The first, a comedy of errors set against the backdrop of demonetization, was a remake of Kannada hit Mayabazaar, and the other was a rural entertainer to be directed by Muthaih, known for films such as Komban, Kutti Puli and Marudhu. Broadcasters like Star have premiered their OTT acquisitions like Dil Bechara within weeks of their digital release.
Film channels have long struggled with lack of content that could cater to pan-Indian, mass audiences and the onslaught of video streaming platforms that have become the first choice of premiere after cinema halls. But the covid-19 lockdown turned their fortunes around, giving them as much as 29% share of the viewership pie as GECs (general entertainment channels) struggled for original content.