Ever since the coronavirus pandemic engulfed the whole world in its claws, dozens of high-profile Bollywood films have had their direct-to-digital premieres, bypassing theatrical release. Filmmakers have valid reasons for not holding their ready-to-release titles and heading to streaming media platforms for their premieres.
Filmmaker Nikkhil Advani says it is not easy to hold back ready projects. He, however, adds that the pandemic has taught him that he should not opt for streaming media platforms if the content is not designed for the medium.
Advani has multiple films in the pipeline, including Bell Bottom, Satyameva Jayate 2 and Mrs. Chatterjee vs Norway. The Akshay Kumar starrer Bell Bottom is set to release theatrically on August 19. If all goes well, the other two titles will also arrive in cinemas only.
“It is extremely difficult to hold on to projects. The lure, the ease to go direct to digital is always there. But what we have learnt in the last year is that it is a disservice to the content by making it for a particular audience and then passing it on to the digital,” Advani told a newswire.
The filmmaker said his banner, Emmay Entertainment, has formed dedicated verticals for feature films and projects meant for the streaming platforms. In December 2020, his production Indoo Ki Jawani released theatrically while this year, Sardar Ka Grandson, starring Arjun Kapoor, premiered on Netflix.
“Something like a Satyameva Jayate 2 is meant for the theatrical release as it was designed that way. Our second vertical is working on the digital space, developing and producing stuff primarily for the OTT,” he added.
Advani said the case with Bell Bottom is different, as the film’s burden is more with producers Vashu Bhagnani, Jackky Bhagnani and Deepshikha Deshmukh of Pooja Entertainment. The Ranjit M Tewari directorial spy thriller will be the first Hindi movie to hit theatres during the second wave of the pandemic.
“The burden of Bell Bottom lies more with the Bhagnanis as well as Akshay Kumar. As far as Emmay was concerned, we developed the story and had a director with us who wanted to make the film. “In effect, both the story and the director were loaned out to the Bhagnanis. They had signed up Akshay and he wanted to do this film so he got the two of us together.”
On the digital front, the filmmaker is gearing up for the release of his period action-drama series, The Empire, on Disney +Hotstar. He has the upcoming Amazon Prime Video series Mumbai Diaries 26/11, a medical drama that revolves around the frontline heroes who saved many lives during the Mumbai terror attacks.