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Streaming services turn to festival favourites

Netflix is bringing Eeb Allay Ooo this week, which premiered at the 2019 Pingyao International Film Festival. (Source: Twitter @YourMovieGenie)Premium
Netflix is bringing Eeb Allay Ooo this week, which premiered at the 2019 Pingyao International Film Festival. (Source: Twitter @YourMovieGenie)

  • India’s limited screen count is the primary reason for several films not finding releases in theatres. The Hindi film industry makes around 2,000 films a year, but there’s space for only 200-300 to release in the 9,527 theatres across the country

NEW DELHI: Video streaming services, which have seen a surge in viewership in 2020, are expanding their content libraries by turning to festival favourites that have long been shunned by cinemas in India or found limited screenings.

US streaming site Netflix is bringing Eeb Allay Ooo this week, a Hindi film that premiered at the 2019 Pingyao International Film Festival and was selected for the Berlin International Film Festival last year.

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Last year, SonyLIV had acquired Manoj Bajpayee’s Bhonsle and Rajat Kapoor’s dark comedy Kadakh while ZEE5 got Nawazuddin Siddiqui-starrer Ghoomketu and Prakash Jha’s Pareeksha-The Final Test.

While Bhonsle, co-produced by Bajpayee, had toured the festival circuit in 2018 including Busan, Dharamshala, Rotterdam, and Singapore, Kadakh was part of the south Asian International Film Festival in 2019. Neither found a theatrical release. Jha’s take on the education system, Pareeksha that premiered at the International Film Festival of India in Goa in 2019 was released as a ZEE5 original while Ghoomketu, also available on the same platform, had remained without distribution buyers for a couple of years.

A paucity of new content following a gradual resumption in production of web originals along with availability of movies with a recognisable name has sparked interest in these titles. Plus, compared to the Rs25-30 crore price tag for acquisition of new films, these titles may come for as little as Rs10 crore, media experts said.

India’s limited screen count is the primary reason for several films not finding releases in theatres. The Hindi film industry makes around 2,000 films a year, but there’s space for only 200-300 to release in the 9,527 theatres across the country. Around 30-40% of the films made in the past five years have not been released. The theatrical business is entirely star-driven and while there are small-scale films that grab eyeballs, they have to come with exceptional concepts and word-of-mouth publicity, in addition to promotional budgets of at least Rs8-10 crore.

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