‘Dying practice of word-of-mouth affecting content-driven films’

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Mumbai, Sep 30 (IANS) As independent films are finding better visibility on digital platforms, filmmaker Siddharth Anand Kumar says most such movies are unable to survive in theatres due to the dearth of ‘word of mouth’ publicity as well as of screen space.

Kumar is the Vice President of Yoodlee Films which has released films like “Ajji”, “Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz” and Netflix film “Brij Mohan Amar Rahe”

Explaining why “Brij Mohan Amar Rahe” was released on Netflix rather than the traditional cinema hall way, Kumar told IANS: “Most of the content-driven films without stars face unnecessary pressure to perform within the first weekend of the release.

“That can easily happen to event films, but small films take time. If the film does not work in the first three days, it gets a tag of ‘flop’. This is how the dying practice of word-of-mouth is affecting the theatrical business of content-driven films.

“We did not want that to happen to ‘Brij Mohan’.”

“Ajji” and “Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz” were released in the theatre. But Kumar sees more potential for content-driven films on digital platforms.

“After we released it (‘Brij Mohan…’) on Netflix, we have got far more impact for that than ‘Kuch Bheege…’. I think a film will not get a chance to grow by the word of mouth alone, also due to the lack of cinema theatres. The much-sophisticated, progressive audience is shifting to platforms like Netflix and Amazon.

“I also believe that the whole system of movie-watching experience is responsible for keeping a section of the audience away from the theatre,” he added.

The advertisements before the beginning of the movie, artificial interruption in the story with interval, queues for food and beverages are few reasons why a section of the urban audience is not preferring to visit theatres to watch a film.

Besides, as Kumar pointed out: “Small films mostly get odd show timings.”

Yoodlee Films has a long lineup that includes films like “Nobleman”, “Hamid” and “Axone” featuring actors like Kunal Kapoor, Rasika Dugal and Vinay Pathak respectively.

While most of the films are based on very regular common topics like ragging, racism and other daily life issues, according to Kumar, his creative team intends to weave stories around a theme that adds an emotional value to the narrative.

Elaborating the thought, Kumar said: “Bullying in boarding school is not a new thing. But in commercial cinema, when the victim fights back and wins the situation, he/she becomes a ‘hero’.

“In our story of ‘Nobleman’, we are adding the perspective that good can defeat an evil but not before the good become a little evil himself.

“Similarly in ‘Axone’, we are trying to address racism in a lighter manner, where the Delhi-set story is about a northeast girl. What happens when her friends cook a herb Axone that smells like poop and how their neighbour reacts… These stories are thematic but for a new-age audience,” added the producer.

Apart from these projects, Yoodlee Films is also venturing into regional films. While they released Tamil film “Abhi Anu” in May, the production house is planning to release their Marathi film “Habbadi” sometime next year.

What according to him is the best way to release an independent film in the theatre?

“A very effective practice is happening for independent films in the US called platforming films. In this process, we can take a film like ‘Hamid’ — a story of a seven-year-old Kashmiri boy — screen the film in Srinagar to build a connection with the local audience over there, followed by releasing the film in Delhi and inviting the film journalists to write about the film for creating a buzz.

“Then we can release the film in Mumbai and other metro cities from where we can get the majority of the audience. This is how gradually the film will not only gain popularity in each city but also find the right audience. I believe that following this process for the indie films can bring a change,” he said.

(Arundhuti Banerjee can be contacted at [email protected])

–IANS

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