With only a couple of Odia movies like Tulasi Apa and Khyanika released on OTT platforms, that too for a brief period, the entertainment industry back home appears to have failed to catch up with the OTT boom in India
Arindam Ganguly. OP
Bhubaneswar: Over-the-top (OTT) video services are the future of home entertainment in India and their consumption can grow 10 fold in next five years, a number of studies predicted in 2018. Multiple factors such as new technologies, dropping data charges, universalisation of entertainment and most importantly sudden spike in active smartphone users had a lot to do with this prediction. At that time, only web series used to get released on these platforms but not the mainstream films. However, shutting down of theatres has put the OTT industry on an unprecedented growth trajectory.
Several big ticket movies like Gulabo Sitabo, Angrezi Medium and Ghoomketu are now streaming online while quite a few biggies such as Shakuntala Devi, Laxmi Bomb, Yaara, Bhuj, Gunjan Saxena: The kargil Girl have got their release dates. OTT market with its millions of users is growing steadily and the streaming services are set to rule the entertainment scene like never before. While the pre-existing major OTT platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Zee5 or Disney Plus Hotstar have geared up to woo local users churning out quality content, some regional language OTT services such as Hoichoi in Bengali and Sun NXT in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada have also managed to take their slices of this pie.
However, with only a couple of Odia movies like Tulasi Apa and Khyanika being released on OTT platforms, that too for a brief period, the entertainment industry back home appears to have failed to catch up with the OTT boom in India.
This is what people from Odia entertainment industry had to say about the poor presence of Odia content on digital format.
Siddhartha Mohapatra, vice-president of Aao TV, a new homegrown OTT platform, says, “The big players have so far ignored Odia language content. We took this as an opportunity to come up with a platform that can offer fresh Odia shows and movies to the users. We are also in talk with a few Odia producers and makers to stream their content on our channel. Even as they are little apprehensive to commit anything at the moment, we will soon catch up with the national trend.”
Aao TV is planning to release multiple web shows in coming days, added Sidharth.
Joyeeta Roy, a media expert and owner of Signature 24 Productions, says “Most of the leading OTT platforms are thriving due to users’ demand and wider base of viewership. Unfortunately, they don’t get quality content in Odia language and this could be a reason they are shying away from releasing Odia films on their platforms. They won’t take Odia shows and films seriously unless we produce good content”
Regional OTT platforms in state like West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra are giving tough competition to the big players because they produce content which attracts the users. But it is yet to happen in Odisha, she added.
Echoing similar sentiment, actor Partha Sarthi Ray said, “Most of the films produced here are poor remakes of big budget movies of other regional languages. There is no reason why a user would subscribe a channel to watch substandard stuff when he has option to watch the original one.”
Actress Prakruti Mishra, whose award winning movie Hello Arsi will soon stream online, said, “Big OTT players always need content in bulk to retain their users. But unfortunately, we don’t have a healthy pool of content to choose from. They want enough good Odia movies in their buckets which we, unfortunately, don’t produce these days.”
Prolific filmmaker Akshaya Parija whose Hindi and Bengali films are streaming in Netflix, Hotstar and Hoichoi, said, “Odia film industry should create more original content rejecting the ongoing ‘copy-paste’ formula to get the films released in big OTT platforms.
“Out of 30 odd films made in a year, 29 are poor remakes. How do you expect pure business driven media service providers like Netflix and Amazon to stream them online,” Asked Parija.