Bollywood directors taking the online route
Thursday, July 23, 2015 13:00 IST
With Sujoy Ghosh and Rohan Sippy releasing their latest projects on the Internet, we explore how Bollywood filmmakers are increasingly taking the virtual route to reach out to a larger audience...

Its reach is mind-boggling as everything is just a click away. We are talking about the Internet. Industry folk are now taking recourse to the online realm to release their projects. All this while, there were only two vistas open - the big screen or the television to showcase their creativity. Now there is a third option - the digital platform.

Retelling a legend Sujoy Ghosh released his short film 'Ahalya' online on Monday. The 14-minute thriller, which stars veteran Bengali actor Soumitra Chatterjee besides Tota Roy Chowdhury and Radhika Apte, is a modern-day take of a legend from the Ramayana. Rohan Sippy is making a mini series, 'Client', starring Bipasha Basu for an online entertainment platform.

Says Sujoy, "The response to Ahalya has been encouraging. This (the Internet) is indeed the future."

Net frenzy

Social media has been extensively used by stars as well as filmmakers to promote their projects. They feel if they succeed in engaging the audience through some online promotions, they'd look forward to their film. Twitter and Facebook posts are considered word-of-mouth publicity.

The resultant buzz can help garner more eyeballs. But now the audience need not even step out of their homes to catch a flick, they can just watch it online. Sujoy's Bengali-English film, which has a heavy dose of the supernatural, has already received rave reviews. 'The Kahaani' (2012) director feels that releasing Ahalya on an online platform has given him a wider reach.

Radhika, who features in the film, says, "Filmmaking is a highly complex job involving lots of resources. However, the digital space opening up for film releases is an extremely positive sign. It has not just made making a film easier, but also widened the reach. You just need an internet connection."

Exciting option
While announcing 'Client', filmmaker Rohan Sippy had reportedly stated that he found "the online medium exciting." It will be a 12-part mini series with Bipasha playing the central character of a go-getter and is slated to go on the floors shortly.

Bipasha recently tweeted, "Going to announce something super fun today! Excited! (sic)" Later she posted an image of the launch saying, "Clients on @ErosNow."

Anurag Kashyap

Apart from 'Client', the online entertainment portal has also lined up two new shows -'Khel', a dark drama with cricket as its backdrop directed by debutant Karan Anshuman whose film 'Bangistan' releases shortly. Then there is 'Ponniyin Selvan,' an epic period drama based on a Tamil historical novel by Kalki Krishnamurthy. With more names from Bollywood associating with online platforms and making content exclusively for the digital world is a heartening step. As Sujoy says, "I hope more filmmakers explore this new vista. It is a whole new world."

This is seen as an encouraging move, especially for newcomers and small filmmakers who cannot afford a theatrical release.

Better understanding
Before his 2014 film 'Ugly' released, Kashyap released 'Kali-Katha', a five-minute prologue to it. This, the makers, claimed was a first in the history of Indian cinema. 'Kali-Katha' was aimed to introduce the backdrop of the thriller to the audience. Kashyap felt that the viewers could have a better understanding of the characters if they watched it before 'Ugly'.

As the links are shared on various social networking websites, more people get to know about the film and watch it. Meanwhile, filmmakers are also considering making a shift to online movie distribution as it has the potential to become a source of revenue for screening Hindi films and tap new markets. Producers believe the step might help put an end to piracy.
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