Due to Covid-19 scare, film theatres were among the first ones to down their shutters. Immediately after that, when certain filmmakers chose to go towards OTT platforms, a debate around ‘OTT vs theatres’ started to rage. Hansal Mehta, for one, feels “theatres aren’t going anywhere”, but also adds that OTT has come as a boon for many.
“Honestly, the magic of big screen/theatres will continue to thrive. But at the same time, for a filmmaker like me, the presence of OTT platforms mean that, if need be, I don’t have to tied to the vagaries of a Friday,” says Mehta, whose films such as Shahid, Aligarh and Citylights are available on streaming platforms.
“The kind of feedback I have got from people, who have watched Shahid or Aligarh now on OTT, is tremendous. Many may have missed out on watching them in theatres but it’s a great feeling for me, as a filmmaker, that people are appreciating my work, regardless of the platform,” says Mehta, who has Rajkummar Rao-starrer Chhalaang as his next release. “Let’s see what the producers do (with regards to it’s release plans). Right now, there is no clarity on theatres reopening, so I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he says.
But Mehta “feels great” that due to OTTs, he doesn’t have to depend on Fridays to showcase his work to audiences. “Every platform, at the end of the day, is going to coexist, but streaming platforms just frees a filmmaker like me from so many things or pressures that may come with a Friday,” says the writer-director, who is currently stationed at his Lonavala home, along with the family.
“I am enjoying my family time here. Besides doing all cooking that I really enjoy, I am also taking out time for work. So, I do my weekly meetings — with my writers and actors — for my show as well as Chhalaang, and my next directorial too. I don’t see myself coming back to Mumbai anytime soon, or at least till the time when I have some work in the city,” says Mehta, who has also finished two scripts during the lockdown.