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OTT platforms becoming the new hub of regional cinema
Amid the lockdown due to the outbreak of COVID-19, more films from the region are being streamed at various Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms. Apart from major players like Netflix, start-ups like MovieSaints too have provided a major platform for films from Assam.
Anupam Kaushik Borah’s Bornodi Bhotiai (Love, By The River) and The Boy with a Gun, a short film, are the latest addition to this list. Both the films are available with MovieSaints.
“For filmmakers of regional languages with a limited number of theatre audience pool, the OTT platforms are a potential gateway to the audience around the world. I want to show my film to as many people as I could. Possibilities are endless – even commercially. I am just tapping on that potential right now,” Borah told The News Mill.
One of the most discussed Assamese films released in 2019, Bornodi Bhotiai is about a man from Majuli who is searching for a cure to his strangely prolonged cold. Four other men are in search of love, falling for the same woman. Majuli, too, is searching for cure to its own ‘cold’ of flood and erosion caused by Brahmaputra.
“The earning from the platform is directly proportional to number of actual views. My purpose of getting actual views from audience around the world is fulfilling. At such times of pandemic and lockdown, no doubt that people are showing up in OTT platforms more than ever. I have a hunch that this will not decrease much even after lockdown is over. However, the phenomenon of this region’s filmmakers making films exclusively for OTT platforms or majorly targeting the online audience – hasn’t arrived yet. If it arrives, it will be a major breakthrough for our cinema,” Borah reckoned.
For Khanjan Kishore Nath, it’s a great opportunity that MovieSaints has started to stream his short film ‘The Boy with a Gun’ which is made in Karbi language.
“The OTT platforms are the new opportunity for us to explore the global viewers within a short time. It has many advantages like cost cutting, rapid business growth and attracting viewers. I believe in future the traditional way of film release will be over,” Nath told The News Mill.
The film tells the story of a school boy in a hilly village in Assam who finds a pistol inside a bag on his way to school.
His other film, ‘Chor’ (Bicycle), which is a feature film, will be available in Amazon Prime videos for the viewers of UK and US shortly.
Apart from that, other films from Assam being streamed at MovieSaints are Aamis and Kothanodi by Bhaskar Hazarika, Suspended Inspector Boro and Local Kung Fu 2 by Kenny Basumatary, Raag by Rajni Basumatary and Bokul by Reema Borah. Short films ‘Fade in’ by Ankur Deka and Ghormua (A Letter to Home) by Mukul Haloi are also being streamed at MovieSaints.
In Netflix, already several films from the region are streaming including Village Rockstars and Bulbul Can Sing by Rima Das, Maj Rati Keteki by Santwana Bordoloi and III Smoking Barrels by Sanjib Dey.
A few more films are available at Jio Cinema, ErosNow and Google Play Movies. Some of these are Handook by Jaicheng Joi Dohutia, Othello by Hemanta Kumar Das, Antareen by Monjul Baruah and Duronir Nirola Poja by Dhruva Bordoloi among others.
One yet-to-be-launched OTT platform, Reeldrama, focusing on the East India market, has acquired all three films of Kenny Basumatary – Local Kung Fu, LKF2 and Suspended Inspector Boro.
However, for Kenny, it’s the theatres which give him satisfaction. “The OTT platforms are obviously having a good time in the stay-at-home days. For me personally, hearing and feeling audience reaction in a cinema hall is the best reward of all,” said Kenny who recently completed editing the first cut of his fourth film Local Utpaat.
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