How do you look back at the trends and the changes we’ve seen this decade?
I’ve been saying this for a long time, and I’ve mentioned this before. Cinema is a dying art. That’s what I have been telling everywhere, because the film-viewing experience has evolved over a period of time. But today, the theatre-viewing experience has changed. Even in Hollywood, they do only superhero films and larger-than-life films, that too in the stereoscope format. It has become part of a film’s marketing campaign.
What we’re seeing in the Tamil industry is a diluted version of this phenomenon, with star films getting a pull. Now we say that smaller films are not getting theatres, but Bigil, at the same time, is said to have collected around Rs. 147 crore in Tamil Nadu alone. Which means that Rajini sir’s films will collect that, and so will Ajith’s films. This also means that the theatre-going audience is patronising these films, even more vehemently. But their choice of which film to go to the theatre for has become very restricted. At the same time, with the advent of OTT, I feel it’s the golden age of the screenwriter. Like a Tolstoy or a Dickensian-era, when novelists would write 2,000 pages, today, screenwriters who have the content, potential and the patience to write, can write how much ever they want to.
If a show clicks, for instance, they can even write 10 seasons of it. Of course, it has its own set of limitations. Certain OTT companies might not give the funds we require. They might want an Indian Narcos, but that does not mean that they will give us the funds to make it. So, a writer has a lot of freedom and space right now. It’s the first time that the medium has gone to the writers. In the West, writers have a say on which director must shoot an episode. That is the biggest growth of this decade.
In the near future, what we will see is the theatre audience shrinking to just the films of 10 or 15 heroes, and we will only have 25 to 30 directors who will make movies just for those heroes. The rest of us will keep making movies we are comfortable with and then approach one OTT after another. I think that’s how our industry is evolving. In the US, the idea of a weekend itself has transformed into a “beer, pizza, Netflix”. We haven’t yet gotten there. But it’s still a great time to explore fresh content.