The world of OTT platforms is a true democracy. The viewer can access a variety of shows for a periodic subscription fee. What one wants to watch decides the choice of OTT platform. We have known this for a while.
Unknown to us before the Covid-19 pandemic hit us hard was how significant personal entertainment would become within a few months.
The need to stay at home to the extent possible is the reason why platforms such as Amazon Prime Video and Netflix have emerged as bigger players in the business of entertainment today. And, they are all set to have a wider reach with time.
The last few months saw the near-dissolution of the artificial boundary between serials and films. The former, despite their phenomenal popularity, was usually seen as the country cousin of the latter in India.
2020 saw a change. Confined and seeking to distract themselves, many viewers had to make a decision. Would they rather watch Paatal Lok, a gripping crime drama series instead of the Akshay Kumar film Laxmii, a laughably bad ghost comedy?
Although Paatal Lok started streaming much earlier, those who hadn’t watched the series until Laxmii was released would have chosen it over the latter when they finally found time for entertainment.
For the film industry, 2021 will pose tough challenges should the old normal elude us for a while. Big films released on OTT platforms will face tougher competition from well-made series released around the same time or even earlier.
Will 2021, then, see the emergence of a new star system?
That might happen, too. We might see an era of the new star, who may or may not be handsome or pretty in the big-screen sense of the term.
This new star may not have been able to colonise the limelight on the big screen and would have been mostly seen in supporting roles in big films where the Ranveer Singhs of the world rule. But she/he can and will challenge the dominance of the big-screen star on Netflix or Prime Video for sure.
Pratik Gandhi has emerged as a force to reckon with after his fine performance in Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story. Pankaj Tripathi has trebled his popularity with series like Sacred Games and Mirzapur.
Jitendra Kumar, young and promising, has made quite an impact in Panchayat in particular. Sushmita Sen has made a much-delayed comeback with Aarya, while we must not forget the female stars of Four More Shots Please! that has become widely popular among its target audience.
So, can Sobhita Dhulipala find a few more exciting roles and emerge as a challenger for her big-screen counterparts? Dhulipala is glamorous, too, which makes it possible. Will Radhika Apte have another blockbuster on Netflix? She might.
Times have changed. And they are likely to remain the way they are for a while. With more and more urban Indians taking to computers for work – and entertainment – the new era will witness tough competition between small- and big-screen stars.
Nobody can predict the winner. All one can say is that neither will have it easy, promising exciting times ahead.