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Language diversity should be encouraged in OTT content

The 13th Bangalore International Film Festival (BIFFes) organised a panel discussion on “Original Content Creation and Acquisition in OTTs” on Sunday. The panel comprised Pragati Deshmukh, Vice President, Hindi Original Content – Zee5; Svetlana Naudiyal, Programming Director, Asia – MUBI; Manish Menghani, Head of Content Licensing, Amazon Prime Video; Pradeep Kumar, Head of Kannada Series – Zee5; and Parameshwar Gundkal, Cluster Business Head – Colors Kannada; and was moderated by Abhishek Iyengar.

Speaking about the future of OTT platforms, Parameshwar opined that OTT is here to stay because stories will prevail irrespective of the platform. Pradeep added that, “though with each generation, the technology, accessibility to it and the very experience of viewing the content changes, the emotions don’t”.

‘Watching films is a collective experience. When watched alone, the emotions don’t translate from the screen to the audience’s hearts the same way’, said Svetlana. Manish acknowledged that the OTT ecosystem is still in its developmental stage but it has a high scope to enhance the viewers’ experience in due time. The panel discussion emphasised a need for content curation to be decentralised. Language diversity should be encouraged in OTT content and regional penetration should be given a push, the panellists agreed.

Pragati admired OTT for the freedom it offers to the creator to tell the story the way they want to. “They give the content as much legs to travel as they wish to”, Pragati stated. On the topic of writing for OTTs, Sri. Pradeep admitted that though OTTs have different demands, fundamentally, the writing is not very different from film or TV. But the makers advised the writers to come up with a compelling log-line during their pitch such that it arrests the producer’s attention instantly.

It was the general consensus of the panel that OTT is neither a writer’s nor a maker’s medium rather it’s a marriage of both — a creative people’s medium. While writing is the foundation of any form of content, if direction doesn’t go hand-in-hand, it might not be a success. To wrap the discussion up, the panellists were asked what their driving force was in the field of OTT. While Manish felt fortunate to bring global stories to the Indian screens and vice-versa, Svetlana felt grateful to give space to lesser-known movies which have the potential to resonate with a larger audience. Pradeep remarked that there’s a ‘kick’ in entertaining people.

The essence of the discussion was that storytelling is a timeless art. Technologies may change, platforms may falter, tastes of the audience may evolve but stories shall persist as long as they are authentic and stay true to human emotions. The event concluded with a sufficient space for the press to throw questions and interact with the panellists.

BIFFes organized an interaction with filmmakers for the press in two segments. The first segment focused on select Kannada movies with their directors. These movies were some of the most prominent entries in Kannada Competition, Asian Competition, Chitra Bharathi Competition among others. PR Ramadasa Naidu, Director of Giliyu Panjaradolilla; Madhusudhan Havaldhar, Director of Jagannatha Dasaru; Kishore Bhargav, Director of Stalker; Chadrakant Kodapadi, Director of Bhugilu; and Prithvi Konanur, Director of Pinki Elli were present at the meet. In the second segment, T Deepesh and Sheery Govindan, Directors of film Avanovilona; Tara Ramanujan, Director – Nishiddho and Maya Anil kumar, IFS, MD – Kerala State Film Development Corporation discussed the nuances of their filmmaking process.

In the first segment these highly acclaimed movies were inspired by makers’ real life incidents. For instance, Kishore Bhargav shared an anecdote about how concerned he was when his daughter went missing when they went to watch a movie. And all others shared their experiences in film making over the years and hoped their movies succeed.

In the second segment Maya Anil Kumar, IFS MD discussed the initiatives taken by the Kerala State Film Development Corporation for empowering women directors and their strive towards gender equality. Tara Ramanujan, Director of Nishiddho said the movie is about contemporary life in Kochi. T Deepesh, Director of Avanovilona said the story is an anthology and also includes a part which deals with the concept of spirituality of transgenders. They appreciated Karnataka Government’s earnest efforts in acceleration of film industry and hope that other governments also follow suit. The brochure of Rajasthan International Film Festival was unveiled at the BIFFes on Sunday by Suneel Puranik, Chairman, Karnataka Chalanachitra Academy. His presence at the 8th RIFF was solicited by Somendra Harsh, Festival Director, RIFF. Puranik was also presented with a safa, an integral element of Rajasthani culture.

One of the most important and wanted Masterclass on acting by award-winning actors. The master class focused on the journey of the delegates as an actor, theatre as the base of acting, and choosing the right script. The eminent actors recalled their initial stages when they weren’t interested in acting or taking it up as a profession, but eventually ended up loving the process of being an actor. Highlighting the base of acting for a successful actor, Dattana, mentioned that in theatre one practices the skills again and again which creates a rock-solid foundation in acting.

In addition to it, Adil Hussain said if one wants to pursue acting they need to ask themselves whether they want it and will continue doing it without payment. Further, he quoted “Don’t try to be brilliant or good, to keep your interest alive, to act, you need to go deeper in the truth.”

Sharing their experience on choosing the right script, Roshini, revealed that the intent of the writer and director is what she considers in the script despite her limitations. Also, the intent of the script should not be titillate, but show the truth. The insightful and fun session with a houseful of fans, film enthusiasts, and acting aspirants was moderated by renowned actor, writer Prakash Belawadi. The Hans India

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