Filmmaker Tigmanshu Dhulia says he saw the streaming revolution sweeping the country almost a decade ago and believes that the OTT platforms have not only brought changes in storytelling but also introduced a wide range of “disciplined” actors.
Known for critically-acclaimed films like Paan Singh Tomar, Haasil and the Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster franchise, Dhulia made his streaming debut in 2019 with shows like Out of Love and Criminal Justice.
During a virtual press conference of the upcoming thriller, the filmmaker said the landscape of Indian storytelling has greatly benefited from the arrival of streaming platforms in the country.
“I have been saying that OTT will take over films for ten years now. The pandemic has just given it some more speed. I am extremely happy in this space. You get to make an OTT show the same way you get to make a feature film, with the same mounting. We get to work with good actors now and the new breed of actors are much (more) disciplined,” the director told reporters.
Dhulia said streaming platforms are also a blessing for small-scale films which would earlier struggle to earn money at the box office.
With the freedom to experiment, Dhulia said directors and writers now have an opportunity to “think really out of the box”.
“The breaking of the Hindi commercial formula was a step that was taken back in the 2000s, when directors like Vishal Bhardwaj, Anurag Kashyap, Rajkumar Hirani and I came around. That started reflecting in our hardcore commercial films, say a ‘Dangal’ or a ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’. They were in the commercial format but had different storytelling,” the filmmaker said.
The world of streaming offers the filmmakers and actors “more opportunities”, he added.
“In films, you were always pushing the plot forward and had an interval point… Our sense of screenplay was contrived, but OTT has purified it and given it clarity. Now you get to tell new stories, in a new way, new technology with better actors and you get to show it to the world,” Dhulia said.
The Great Indian Murder is an adaptation of author Vikas Swarup’s novel Six Suspects, which revolves around the murder of the son of a high-profile minister.
The show is backed by actor Ajay Devgn and producer Priti Vinay Sinha, who have produced the series under their banner ADF and RLE Media for Disney+ Hotstar.
Devgn, who was also present at the event, said the biggest strength of the digital space is its reliance on storytelling.
“The best thing about OTT is that here, scripts and storytelling are of utmost importance. What we could not do in films, we can do here on OTT. A lot of stories get justified on OTT. That’s the best part of it, that you can think of new ideas, different things and put it out on screen.”
Devgn himself is gearing up to make his acting debut with the Disney+Hotstar show Rudra-The Edge of Darkness, which is an adaptation of the Idris Elba-starrer successful British series Luther.
As compared to the West, the 52-year-old actor believes the OTT space in the country is still under development. However, it won’t be too long before Indian shows catch up with the global standards, he added.
“We have just recently started on OTT, we are maturing and doing fabulously well. It always takes time but we will keep doing better. A series has a different form of screenplay, which the West has been doing for quite some time… But our Indian culture, its earthiness and characters are very vast. So the kind of stories we can tell, we can go much beyond them, eventually,” Devgn said.
The Great Indian Murder will release on Disney+ Hotstar on February 4.