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Only quality content will survive, say players on digital platforms

“Netflix and Amazon are two giant OTT platforms that a shopkeeper or a barber might not subscribe to, but they would watch content on homegrown OTT platforms like ZEE5, Voot, ALT Balaji… This way, content is reaching to audiences from all walks of life and it increases job opportunity for not only actors but writers and technicians too.”

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Mumbai, Feb 11 : It will be a clear case of survival of the fittest as an increasing number of web series and short films release on digital platforms that are gaining a steady audience, giving tough competition to traditional entertainment platforms like television and cinema, say actors and show makers.

Whether it is renowned actors like Saif Ali Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Emraan Hashmi, Pankaj Tripathi and R. Madhavan or youngsters like Akshara Haasan, Shiv Pandit and Swara Bhaskar — many actors are taking the plunge into the OTT world.

But as big production banners are venturing into the platform with a vengeance, is the space hitting a saturation point already?

Ajit Andhare, Chief Operating Officer, Viacom18 Studios, told IANS: “I see no such situation occurring in the near future because we have just started the journey of OTT platform entertainment and video-on-demand services.

“In the business of entertainment, venturing into digital content is one of the ways to stay relevant and connecting to a budding consumer as that market is building slowly.”

“I do not think that the situation of dearth of idea also can happen. The audience is open to new ideas.”

Raising some questions, Andhare said: “Who would have thought of making a film on toilet issues? A relatable, daily life story… Who would have thought that the audience will celebrate the story of a blind man witnessing a murder? Again, it is the audience that has received such content.

“I do not think that manufacturing ideas can go to saturation point because we can offer a new element every time… That could be a new story concept, a new treatment in the storytelling, new talent or performance. I believe a storyteller always has something new to offer.”

Actor Niteesh Wadhwa, who features in short film “Trip!”, said: “The story of our film is very simple. It revolves around two friends who smoke up marijuana and after that, they go on a food trip. A twist comes in the climax of the story. Now the fact is, we would have not made the short film if not for the digital platform, because in India, marijuana is banned.

“So, the censor board would have thrown the film away. I am not saying that we are going to take the freedom for granted but we can make a story on a reality in a responsible manner without fearing censorship on a digital platform.”

Actor Ayush Saini, who is also an assistant director on one Netflix project, said: “One of the good things of the growing market of digital entertainment platform is the creation of job opportunities for us and entertainment for local people.”

“Netflix and Amazon are two giant OTT platforms that a shopkeeper or a barber might not subscribe to, but they would watch content on homegrown OTT platforms like ZEE5, Voot, ALT Balaji… This way, content is reaching to audiences from all walks of life and it increases job opportunity for not only actors but writers and technicians too.”

Shiv Pandit, who has acted in Netflix series “Selection Day” and Voot Originals’ short film “Joyride”, said: “People have more options, but only a certain amount of time to invest in entertainment, right? We only have 24 hours of a day. So no matter how many OTT platforms are coming, people will choose only the best.”

His co-star Akshara said: “I believe only quality content will be celebrated and the rest will disappear soon as any noise does. So saturation point won’t come, but we really have to work hard to create new content and maintain quality.”

(Arundhuti Banerjee can be contacted at [email protected])

Entertainment

Film producer Raj Kumar Barjatya of Rajshri films passes away

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Raj Kumar Barjatya (File Photo)

Mumbai, Feb 21: Bollywood’s veteran film producer Raj Kumar Barjatya of Rajshri films passed away in Mumbai’s Sir H. N. Reliance Foundation Hospital on Thursday morning.

Rajkumar Barjatya of Rajshri Productions had bankrolled films like Hum Aapke Hain Koun…!, Hum Saath-Saath Hain, Vivah and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo among others. His last production venture Hum Chaar hit screens on February 15, 2019.

Rajkumar is survived by his wife Sudha Barjatya and son Sooraj Barjatya.

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Judge me, but don’t judge my kids: Ajay Devgn

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Ajay Devgn Kajol with Nysa and Yug
Ajay Devgn and Kajol with their children Nysa and Yug

New Delhi, Feb 20: Much like the children of other Bollywood celebrities, actor Ajay Devgn and Kajols 15-year-old daughter Nysa and 8-year-old son Yug, get a lot of media attention and are often targeted by social media trolls.

In an interview to IANS, Devgn, a protective father, said social media users should not judge his children.

He said: “Judge me, but don’t judge my kids. Kajol and I are the actors, judge us…it’s because of us, our children are under the spotlight everytime.”

“Being judgmental about someone is not a good thing. If I start passing a judgement on someone, that person would obviously feel bad…so do my children,” he added.

The “Singham” star, who was in Delhi to promote his fortcoming film “Total Dhamaal”, said, “Honestly speaking, those people don’t really matter. But I feel bad sometimes when my kids go through such harsh trolling.”

The star couple’s first child Nysa recently got trolled and body-shamed for her airport look – and this was not the first time she was being targetted.

Asked about how Nysa deals with “such harsh comments”, Devgn said: “She used to get upset over trolling earlier, but now she doesn’t care about it anymore. She knows how to deal with it. She has accepted that there will be some people who will keep judging no matter what.”

On how to tackle trolls, he said, “Avoid it… If you will react, they will react more and this will continue. So better to stop fighting against trollers.”

Commenting on how people have reacted angrily to remarks by some actors on the Pulwama terror attack, Devgn said: “In such a crucial situation, it is better if we become conscious while choosing our words because people are angry and you never know how someone at the opposite end interprets your message or post.

“One can be misinterpretted anytime and then you can’t sit down and explain to people that what were your real intentions. It’s better if we all become little conscious and don’t react to things immediately. Think twice before writing anything on social media to avoid hurting someone’s sentiments.”

IANS

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Sting operation: Bollywood celebs, TV actors caught agreeing to promote political parties for money

Actors Vivek Oberoi, Shakti Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, Amisha Patel, Mahima Chaudhary and Sonu Sood, and singers Kailash Kher, Abhijeet and Mika were some of those caught on camera accepting the deal for toeing the agenda of a political party or endorsing it for money.

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Sting operation: Bollywood celebs

New Delhi, Feb 19 (IANS) More than 30 Indian film and TV industry actors/artistes agreed to spread the propaganda of political parties through their social media accounts for money, which they asked to be paid in cash, in other words in untaxed black money, it has been revealed in a sting operation.

Actors Vivek Oberoi, Shakti Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, Amisha Patel, Mahima Chaudhary and Sonu Sood, and singers Kailash Kher, Abhijeet and Mika were some of those caught on camera accepting the deal for toeing the agenda of a political party or endorsing it for money.

The celebrities were caught on camera accepting the cash-for-tweet offer during a sting operation conducted by media portal Cobra Post over a period of 3-4 months last year.

Cobra Post on Tuesday released the sting operation in a video documentary titled ‘Operation Karaoke’, in which actors, dancers, singers and models were caught accepting the offer for promoting political parties through hidden cameras.

The reporters, acting as agents working on behalf of the Congress, the BJP or the Aam Aadmi Party, made an offer to pay 10-20 per cent of the decided sum in cheque or bank transfer, and the rest through cash, which the celebrities accepted.

Vidya Balan, Raza Murad, Arshad Warsi and TV actor Saumya Tandon were the only ones who refused the offer.

Celebrities were offered Rs 2 lakh to Rs 20 lakh per message according to their brand value. Some celebrities even asked the reporters-cum-agents for up to Rs 20 crore citing the sway they hold on the Twitter sphere.

These celebs agreed to promote the party — any which was proposed to them — to create a favourable environment before the 2019 general elections.

They swore to keep the entire exercise a secret and the agenda hidden.

“This way, you (celebrities) are manufacturing an opinion through social media. If you reveal that you have taken money for the promotion that you are doing, it would be fine… If we go by the trend, these people may not shy away from propagating a communal agenda either,” said journalist and former Aam Aadmi Party member Ashutosh during the press conference.

He compared the celebrities who accepted the deal to “trolls” and called trolling a “paid syndicate mafia”.

Hartosh Singh Bal, political editor of Caravan magazine, also addressed the reporters and termed the incident a telling foreboding of the “dangerous times” ahead.

“We are going to see the consequences of this in the coming elections,” he said.

The impact most of these celebrities can have through their handles in denting or boosting a party’s image can be gauged from the number of followers almost each of them has on Twitter.

Amisha Patel has 3.95 million, Vivek Oberoi above 2 million and Sonu Sood 1.5 million followers on Twitter. Jackie Shroff has 2.27 lakh, Kailash Kher has over 5 lakh and Tisca Chopra of ‘Taare Zameen Par’ fame has 3.20 lakh followers on Twitter.

Model and actress Sunny Leone, though one of those agreeing to promote the BJP on camera, issued a disclaimer on Twitter hours after the press conference, rubbishing the news of promoting a political party.

“Hi, this is to inform you that I am not campaigning for any political parties, unlike the news that’s circulated talking about me doing so… If I choose to promote anything in political life I would choose things I only believe in,” she tweeted. Leone alone has 3.95 million followers on Twitter.

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