WOW | What You Think
Women & Films On Digital Platforms
Text: Anushka Shrestha
We have recently launched Chalchitra app. Due to the situation we are in now, the theatre going culture is going to take time which is why we came up with the idea of having Nepali movies and web series on a digital app globally. Web series on a digital platform is very important. OTT platform sustain it as it cannot only depend on the movies that have already been made. There needs to be something original and something that actually belongs to the digital platform.
For the longest of time, majority of mainstream Nepali entertainment content seems to be outdated. The individual experiences have become so diverse that there’s a need for assortment in the content we consume. While many music artistes seem to understand what audiences are looking for and follow through, the wide range of filmmakers still struggle with producing content which appeals to multi-layer hierarchical strata of Nepalese audience and their entertainment needs.
I believe the existing trend of theatre going experience doesn’t incorporate the silent demographic majority of Nepalese audience who are relentlessly looking for genuine entertainment. However, if we discuss the present media marketing, digital films and web series seem to have their place in the sun and they are embracing the wider range of audience while resonating with their individual demands.
The sort of biasness in content where majority of filmmakers indoctrinate stereotypical movies where every hero is born with some superhuman ability should be sidelined and a new dawn of movies with endless comparability which people can relate to in their actual lives should be encouraged.
With the introduction of digital medium, filmmakers have the freedom to perfectly shape their vision and cater to the audiences where we could pick movies according to our taste from the buffet. Ultimately oils down to incremental stance of viewership like never before.
Independent Film Maker & CEO, Gauthali Entertainment
In almost 60 years, Nepali Cinema has remained largely city-centric. From production to the stories we tell, most films concentrate on the urban and elite. This is perhaps the biggest loss for our arts because almost all of our films have looked and felt the same even when we have such beautiful stories in every chautara and every galli and this is what the digital space can revolutionise.
Every story is worthy of being told and representation matters. In Nepal more often, a film’s worth is based on the money it can bring back. The film market traditionally has been a capitalist one. What this does is it creates value based on monetary gains, and this, in turn pushes away stories of minorities and anyone that isn’t tall, fair, hetero male as the central character. With the digital platform and the autonomy it gives, people will be able to tell stories from their lives and people who are like them. Under-representation causes symbolic annihilation while seeing one’s linenesses on screen can be cathartic.
Moreover, a larger platter of films and tv in the past have been fairly elitist, with only a few individuals having the authority of decision making. This in turn had created an unhealthy environment, a monopoly of sorts where the audiences had to make do with whatever they were offered while many talented film makers, storytellers had to keep mum owing to the lack of resources.
The digital platform because of its very nature is accessible to a far wider population and they are more in demand. As a result of which more and more young people are encouraged to make films and the audiences will soon get a wide variety of stories to choose from.
The playing field – the digital space – is also great for professional filmmakers to explore newer avenues in terms of storytelling and style, for example, someone who has only made thrillers could try romance. You don’t have that kind of freedom when you’re working on a three hour feature that requires a hundred people toiling on set and huge sums of money.
The medium is also great for new and upcoming filmmakers who might not have the contacts or resources for a big feature. For them, the web is like a performance stage where they can get noticed and hopefully funded for future projects. The most important aspect of the digital medium is the fact that it liberated the filmmaker from all shackles. You don’t need a fancy camera or an expensive setup, you can make a film with a phone. Now when the process is so intimate the filmmaker is free to experiment with stories and characterisation. Plots that would never make it to theatres owing to the censor and other such restrictions will find a place on the web.
The very first thing is that Nepal lacks digital content and content creators. On the other hand, Nepali audiences enjoy watching it so to fulfill that thirst they have to rely on Indian content or other international content. As the market for OTT platforms is increasing day by day, it is the right time to focus on making content that is suitable for the rising platform. Making digital content that has the potential of getting an international market from a digital or OTT platform can be a game changer in the production value of our content. If we start thinking from a production perspective, it’s very safe to publish content online as Nepali audiences are much more active on digital platforms due to this pandemic. These are the reasons we need more web series and films on the digital platform.
The world is changing and we need to change with it. The nature of the audience is also changing with smart phones and tablets on its way to every hand in the world. The world is smaller and different than what it was a few decades ago, and we need to evolve accordingly to meet the needs of our viewers.
Digital platforms are adding traditional and non-traditional audiences. The only thing we should focus on right now is upgrading our content and presentation to match it with international standards. Platforms are secondary.
Chini Kam Rang Kada was facing uncertainty for its release because of the ongoing pandemic. We decided to use this crisis as an opportunity to explore the digital realm. Amazon Prime Video Direct Self Publishing Service was a perfect platform to start our digital exploration. At this moment CKRK is only available for viewers in the US and UK. But it will be available soon for the rest of the world. I think it is futile to drag a conclusion out of a debate between theatrical and digital release. The focus should be on elevating the quality of our content regardless of the platform that it releases on. Our intention was to develop a qualitative product.
Every platform has its importance. The taste of audience on digital platform is unstable and always seeking something new. Digital platform being easily accessible, people are hooked. However, watching movies in a theatre gives a different pleasure. The importance of digital has grown due to the pandemic. Who wouldn’t enjoy free offers; most of the shows on digital platforms are accessible easily at no charge. Web series and films have been conceiving various information and stories in a short period of time.
The expectations of the audience watching movies in theatres is higher as they have to invest time and money, but web series and digital films don’t carry high expectations and also the audience seems to be complaining less about the results.