INTERVIEW| Young Indians want cinemas for FOMO, 8-week delay in films on OTT: PVR INOX MD Ajay Bijli

| Updated: 05 January, 2024 9:07 pm IST

NEW DELHI: During an exclusive interview with The New Indian’s Executive Editor Rohan Dua, PVR INOX Managing Director Ajay Bijli cleared the air around the never-ending debate between OTT and movie theatres. He shed light on the importance of movie theatres in the life of common people, despite a rise in the significance of OTT during the Covid period.

Here are the few excerpt from the interview:

Rohan Dua: I must ask you, how do you come up with the arithmetic of 10,000 rupees tickets? Isn’t that a bit too prohibitive considering that there is an onslaught by Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Sonyliv?

Ajay Bijli: I think there are two different mediums of delivery. OTT platforms, during the Covid period, definitely the decibel level and their importance and significance became very, very high because cinemas were shut for 18 to 24 months.

So people were consumed over there. But if you look at a normalised situation, TV shows primarily are what gets consumed on OTT and movies, unless it is commissioned like Archie’s got commissioned by Netflix. Typically, a movie’s journey is a theatrical run for eight weeks, and then it comes to the OTT platform. So first of all, it’s not an either-or situation. You go to a cinema to watch a movie first, you see it over there, and then it comes to the OTT platform.

The consumers in India have such a major FOMO. If they know Dunki is good, if they know 12th fail is good, they’re not going to wait for eight weeks for it to come on the OTT platform. So they will come out.

Rohan: The recent Netflix example which you gave of the Archies is a worrying concern for me. When the nepo kids like Suhana, Agastya or Khushi, they prefer to make their debut on OTT and not come on the big 70 mm screen like their fathers or their mothers. Why would they choose Netflix?

Ajay: I am not worried about that. I think OTT platforms also provide a great opportunity for actors to show their talent in TV shows or movies, which are commissioned and also come on the big screen. So I am, as you said, I have one leg of my business in the film fraternity. They want to do both. So Zoya has got a tiger baby with which she can make ‘Archies’. She’s also got Excel for which she can make a big movie like ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’, ‘Gully Boy’, or what she feels like.

So I think what is happening to the film fraternity is they are making the most of the platforms that are available to them.

The economic rationale of coming on the big screen is not lost on anybody, because a movie like Kantara, which is made for 20 crores, did 300 crores. A movie like Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s ‘12th fail’ which is made on a budget of 5 to 10 crores ends up doing 85 crores. They cannot get that on OTT because of the cost plus. So I think people are free birds. They are creative butterflies.

Rohan: To give a counterpoint to this. The fact is that most of the directors or the filmmakers that you are naming today, have come to a position only because of the phenomenal success that they saw because of ‘Pathaan’, ‘KGF’, or ‘Jawan’. That was all in the theatres. If that had not happened, they would not have decided to venture into OTT either. So, it’s both ways as well, right?

Ajay: I think luckily India is a very volume-based country. So there are so many people out there making movies that if one or two decide to make for a small screen, it’s okay because there are so many others available to replace them. So if one or two, you know, kids of these actors go there, I’m 100 per cent sure they will come on the big screen because Suhana and Shahrukh are making a movie, a superhero film that he just read somewhere that is also going to come on the big screen. So I think people are allowed to make their own choices. They are allowed to sort of creatively do what they feel like, and it doesn’t worry me at all.

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