‘What is a theatre film?’ and ‘What is an OTT film?’ are two pertinent questions that seem to be defining the theatrical success of a film. There’s a bifurcation happening subconsciously in the minds of the audience, which influences their decision regarding where they want to watch the film. Month Of Madhu, for instance, might not have found many takers in theatres but the film is being embraced by the audience post its streaming release.
In Film Companion’s Telugu Cinema Adda, Swathi emphasised that the film was crafted with the intention of delivering a compelling theatrical experience. Despite the challenges—low footfalls—faced by melancholic, artsy films in theatres, she affirms, "Month of Madhu was made with sync sound, good technicalities, and for a theatrical experience. Whether it was sound or lenses... even our sync sound team and our cameramen came from FTI. So technically it was made for theatrical experience. In fact, I get the comments that many people missed it in the theater but it was made for the theaters."
Delving into the creative process behind Month of Madhu, Swathi reveals, "We wanted to establish Vizag strongly. Because the whole film is about change, relationships change, people change but only the sea represents permanence."
Reflecting on the film's transition to the OTT platform, Swathi expresses satisfaction with the response it has garnered. "It's been wonderful the last couple of days after the film has come to Aha. There are various sections of the audience, and you have to have films for everybody, and at least there is a film for them. The people who have been watching and writing about the film are very different with fresh perspectives. Moreover, when people watch it on OTT, if they like a dialogue or get connected to something such as Harsha's monologues, they can just rewind and watch it again."
“People are writing me messages and are referring me as Lekha, my character’s name in the film. One lovely message I remember is ‘Lekha, don’t feel bad, I’ll take you to a treat.’ I’d be lying if I say it’s not gratifying,” Swathi says, adding that she couldn’t be happier with the way the film has touched many women, even empowering them. “I see a lot of messages from women, saying that the film helped them. And these are simple, everyday women I’m talking about. The women who prepare avakai every summer, the women who make appadalu (paapad) and serve rasam in their homes for their family... To know that the film reached them is very fulfilling.”
As the conversation turns toward the diversity among audiences' preferences and the reception of films across genres, Swathi states, "It depends on our personal experiences, financial status, and even our upbringing. You can't say, for sure, how a film may influence one. Some may find it depressing while others may find it empowering. It's all about perspective."