2020 has thrown a lot of soul-searching questions for the Indian film industry. With the pandemic changing the way people have consumed content at their homes all year round, there is a growing buzz that OTT platforms are the future and that, theatres will find it difficult to pull people in hoards like they used to. There is also a conversation that only big budget spectacles will see people to come to theatres, leaving a big question mark on whether concept films will go the digital route. We caught up with film-maker and YRF’s homegrown producer Maneesh Sharma to weigh in on this debate.
Maneesh says, “I’m of the opinion that people will come back to the cinemas once the pandemic subsides. There seems to be a ray of hope at the end of the tunnel. Things were looking a little endless a month back but now we can still put an approximate time frame that things will become ok, things should be fairly in control. So, people will come back to the theatres and want to have that immersive experience.”
Maneesh’s stance is completely in-keeping the position that Yash Raj Films has taken during the pandemic. The biggest production house of India, helmed by Aditya Chopra, decided to not release his films on digital and has managed to stick to this decision despite having big films like Bunty Aur Babli 2, Shamshera and Jayeshbhai Jordaar ready to release.
Maneesh says, “I think, any good film, will find its audience in theatres. I don’t think we can define if by saying that if it’s a big budget film, people will come, and if it’s a small film, people won’t. If it’s a comedy, people will come and if it’s a drama, they won’t. I don’t think people will decide to come to theatres basis the genre. They will decide to come basis what experience the film is offering. So, the films will have to be good and people will come.”
Maneesh is celebrating his birthday with his family in Delhi today. He will return to Mumbai soon to resume working on his hush-hush next. The film-maker, who has directed films like Band Baaja Baarat, Shudh Desi Romance, Fan, feels that, for Indians, going to cinema with friends, families and loved ones is intrinsic to our culture.
“People go to cinemas during festivals, during big holidays. Cinema and celebrations are somehow linked together in our country and I do think that any good film will rekindle that feeling for us all. We have an extremely social culture and going to a cinema plays a very important role. I think if a film is attractive to them, people will turn up at the theatres. I have no doubt about that,” says Maneesh.