June 23, 2024

Former Disney India head and leading producer Siddharth Roy Kapur has warned of some practices that could arise in making films for streamers.

Delivering the keynote address at the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival‘s Industry Connect Symposium on Monday, Kapur, who is currently basking in the success of International Emmy nominated series “Rocket Boys” for streamer SonyLIV, lauded the positives brought to the industry by the platforms but also pointed out the pitfalls.

Speaking about films made for theatrical release, Kapur said that while the recoupment for them in the government funded European industries might be a Cannes slot, in India it is monetary as well. “I have to say that at times, we shy away from it. And we say that it’s cinema, it’s art, why should one really have to look at that if you’re trying to make arthouse or independent movies? But I will offer that if you are raising equity from a financier who’s looking to get their investment back rather than just as an act of patronage, then it is your responsibility as a filmmaker to be able to make sure that the money comes back to them. And therefore, that nervous tension between art and commerce makes for great cinema, as against people who shy away from it and feel that it adds an added layer of pressure,” Roy Kapur said.

“I actually believe that what’s happened with streaming services having come in, for all the incredible number of positives, the fact that you don’t really have a report card at the end of it, which we have to achieve theatrically, does sometimes mean a level of indulgence and a level of just allowing yourself to be led along in whichever direction you want to go creatively, does lead to maybe slightly lazier filmmaking, which might be less fraught with tension because you don’t have people imposing their will on you that much, probably leads to less compelling and less interesting and less watchable cinema at times,” Roy Kapur added.

Beyond the massive event films that have succeeded at the Bollywood box office recently like “Jawaan,” “Pathaan” and “Gadar 2,” Roy Kapur pointed to the successes of films featuring stars rather than superstars. The producer provided the examples of social dramas “Zara Hatke Zara Bachke,” starring Vicky Kaushal and Sara Ali Khan and “Satyaprem Ki Katha,” starring Kartik Aaryan and Kiara Advani, and attributed their success “less to the stars and more to the themes of the films.”

“They don’t have to be big ticket spectacles to work at the box office. And for all the young, independent filmmakers, when they somehow start feeling that the future lies only in streaming and not in theatrical, sure streaming is definitely a wonderful avenue. But the discussions have also now in a way come back to who’s the star and what scale project is it going to be,” Roy Kapur said. “So it isn’t a given that independent movies are going to find a home on streaming anymore, which is why I think it’s important, much as one rails against the commercial pressures of the box office, to still have that rigor of looking at the movies in a way where if this had to work in the box office, what are the elements that I can infuse in it that will help us to be able to make commercials that will help us to make it a theatrical experience.”

“We should not lose that rigor when we look at these movies, because that actually leads to better filmmaking and leads to better cinema,” Roy Kapur added.

Coming up for Roy Kapur Films are war epic “Pippa,” comedies “Bas Karo Aunty!” and “Woh Ladki Hai Kahaan?” and an untitled thriller. Historical series “The Anarchy” is an international co-production with Wiip, and eight more series with directors including Nagraj Manjule, Vishnuvardhan, Mahesh Narayanan, Hardik Mehta, Abbas Tyrewala, Anubhav Chopra, Bhavesh Kapadia and Arati Kadav, spanning genres from historical action to sci-fi and romance, are in development.

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