OTT is a wonderful medium that has given creators a platform to narrate bold and complex stories, said Javed Akhtar. The acclaimed poet, lyricist, screenplay writer and social activist was speaking at an interaction with festival director Jabbar Patel at the 20th Pune International Film Festival (PIFF).
Akhtar further said that some stories require more than the stipulated two hours of time and the advent of the medium of OTT platforms has made it possible. He said that now stories can be narrated for 10 to 12 hours.
Talking about the transitions the Indian film industry is undergoing, Akhtar said that there has been a change in protagonists. He added that alongside web series, films at the multiplexes too is screening stories from the small towns.
“In the period between the 60s to the 80s, the character of the hero of the films were from the working class. In the 90s, the protagonist was from an elite class, a big Indian family who wandered the roads of Switzerland….Recently you must have observed that there are a series of films that tell the stories of people from the small towns of India. These stories have come out of the curiosity of the young urban generation who are not surprised by the material and technological development. They are more interested in asking who they are and what their roots are,” said Akhtar.
Emphasising the need to create single-screen theatres, Akhtar said that doing so will ensure that even small budget films could get a release and make money. “In a country like India, there are only a few thousand theatres. This limits the distribution of the film and its access to commoners. It is important that state and central governments take an initiative to develop a policy to establish small theatres across India, to enable the release of even smaller films. Financing a film should not be the focus but releasing it should be,” he said.
Responding to the question about today’s language on the streets and social media being loud and not profound, Akhtar said, “It is not the fault of the current generation but of people from my generation who were engaged in achieving material wealth. In the process, we did not teach the importance of language to the younger generation. We discouraged them from reading poetry or performing art. We made them a generation that is only capable of earning wealth to be stored in banks.”