Rise of streaming platforms in 2020 allowed me to identify, discover new talent sitting at home, writes Mukesh Chhabra

'I have taken the initiative to open offices all over India, in different states. The online medium is perfect for me and my team to discover talent in every nook and corner, not only in India but all around the world.'

Mukesh Chhabra December 28, 2020 15:03:09 IST
Rise of streaming platforms in 2020 allowed me to identify, discover new talent sitting at home, writes Mukesh Chhabra

Mukesh Chhabra. Facebook

2020 has been a watershed year in history, and that has also trickled down to the realm of entertainment. In this series, 2020 Unwind, stakeholders from the Indian entertainment scene weigh in on how they view entertainment now, how their skills had to evolve and adapt to changing patterns and whether the year has altered them as artists.

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The year 2020 will always be looked at as the year of the pandemic. It’s the year that the entire human race had to stay socially distanced and confined in their homes in the fear of an unknown virus that could not be seen nor heard. With its numerous drawbacks also came numerous opportunities.

The opportunity to spend more time with your family, to take as many holidays at one stretch which was our lifelong dream, the opportunity to reflect and ponder over our lives, and so many others. One such opportunity that we all witnessed as a film fraternity was the rise in viewership on OTT platforms. Since multiplexes were shut, and our main source of entertainment was a show on Netflix or Disney+ Hotstar, we came to loving this medium which was in the secondary, up until the pandemic struck. 

Most of the films released online, including my directorial debut Dil Bechara, and a few shows and films that I cast for as a casting director.  The heartwarming response I received even though Dil Bechara released online was just overwhelming. I was really worried, and kept wondering before the release if people would actually watch it if it was streamed online. But honestly speaking, I could not be happier and blessed with the response I got on my directorial film. The potential of an online platform is so vast that we haven't even explored it enough yet. I feel as an audience, it made us more accepting and to some extent, also falling in love with this online medium of viewing content from the comfort of our home/or anywhere and streaming it at anytime we liked. 

The fact that these platforms have so many options we even went on to explore shows and films that we wouldn’t usually watch. Apart from that, it has opened numerous opportunities for actors and filmmakers alike. Without the concept of a box office hit, producers too are willing to take the risk of investing in seemingly new content. Actors are experimenting with roles and breaking the stereotype. 

The pandemic has been a boon in terms of consuming more content and offering more accessible content to viewers. From a personal point of view, I have binged and enjoyed so many series that I probably would have never had the time to watch on a busy work day. I have been able to identify and discover new talent through the content that I have been watching online. 

I have also taken the initiative to open offices all over India, in different states. The online medium is perfect for me and my team to discover talent in every nook and corner, not only in India but all around the world. I have set up offices in Delhi, Lucknow, and Chandigarh apart from my Mumbai office, so actors don’t have to spend money travelling to Mumbai and staying here at additional costs. They can sit at the comfort of their home, and mail me their introduction/auditions. My team at the offices will help and guide actors on how to go about auditioning. 

This creates more opportunity, and I am very happy when I can source and give to the world of cinema more and more talented actors. It also creates a space for actors to reach out to us. We want to be more accessible to talent. I always say we only exist because of good actors. I have to keep surprising everyone with new faces and power packed performers. Faces that are from different parts of the country. I also want to make it possible for everyone to dream and achieve their acting dreams. 

Also, as a viewer, I have been given an unlimited access to different genres of content at a very competitive price. For example, if I had to watch one single movie at a theatre, I would pay around Rs 500 but, in this case, I can watch 10 movies or more for the same price or even lesser. This obviously gives OTT platforms an advantage over multiplexes. Of course, there’s no comparison being made towards the viewership experience but to most people, that is not an important factor.

So much has changed in regards to the way we are going about our projects now. I am just glad that everything is almost, if not entirely, back on track right now. With the necessary SOPs in place, we have started shoot schedules too, and work almost feels like back to normal. I think it’s just a matter of time now, and we’ll be as good as normal. Till then, we better stay safe and keep everyone around us safe too. 

Mukesh Chhabra is a filmmaker, casting director, and actor.

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ALSO READ: 

Everything I consumed on screen as an escape from 2020 helped me evolve into a filmmaker, writes Shefali Shah

Pandemic forced the industry to shut shop; filmmakers like me have lived with this uncertainty all along, writes Devashish Makhija

If there is anything 2020 has taught us, it is to not get too comfortable, writes Scam 1992 actor Shreya Dhanwanthary

 

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