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After cinema halls, mobile theatres in Assam under threat from OTT platforms

The mobile theatre industry in Assam is facing a new challenge, that is, in the form of OTT (over-the-top) platforms. Contents in OTT platforms can be accessed anywhere for a relatively low fee. This has led to an increase in viewership on OTT platforms, which has posed a threat to the mobile theatre industry. Audiences are getting used to easy access to web series, films and documentaries on their smartphone devices and Smart TV, thanks to numerous OTT platforms.

Sudipta Dutta, a student at the Bhattadev University in Assam said, “After lockdown, I installed Netflix, Amazon Prime in our Smart TV.” “There was a time we used to buy music CDs and cassettes, rented DVDs for watching movies, needed cable connection to watch sports (except the ones which DD telecasted) etc.

But due to internet and the services it provides, music CDs not needed, movies can be watched on OTT and sports can also be watched on OTT.

Now watching movies and web-series on OTT platforms at home has become a habit for us” he added. Bijan Bayan, a senior citizen of Pathsala, said, “Earlier people from various parts come here to see the live dramas of mobile theatre in Pathsala town where Achyut Lahkhar gave birth to ‘Bhryamyman’ or mobile theatre in the 1960s.

But now times have changed. Digitalisation changed everything. The young generation don’t want to enjoy the dramas of mobile theatres anymore.

Instead of buying a ticket at a high cost of Rs 100 to Rs 200, they would like to buy monthly OTT service and net packs.”

Tapan Lahkar, producer of Kohinoor Theatre, while speaking on the increasing trends of OTT platforms, said “Theatre offers a larger than life experience. That cannot be replaced by television or OTT platforms. Going to theatre adds an important dimension – it becomes a social occasion and a collective experience. The OTT platforms will clearly not match up with that.”

“OTT platforms cannot possibly replace mobile theatre industry. Here people can enjoy tlive dramas and cars, trains made up of wood appear on stage without green screen. No digital technology can change the feel of live dramas on stage,” he added. The Assam Tribune

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