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Selling of sex in films is dead: Vikram Bhatt on need to clean digital content

At the launch of his app, VBontheWeb, filmmaker Vikram Bhatt maintained that the audience for digital content is discerning enough to avoid films that focus too much on sex. 

Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Shriram Iyengar

Vikram Bhatt might be known across the Hindi film industry for his genre of erotic thrillers and horror, but the filmmaker believes that the widespread availability of data is bringing the commercial saleability of sex in films to an end. At the launch of his new OTT app, VBontheWeb, the director said in no uncertain terms, "Selling of sex in films is dead." 

The platform which offers users access to diversified video content, at itemised subscription, is a new venture by Bhatt in association with Jio Cinemas. Talking about the need to move to the digital space, Bhatt said, "I am not a filmmaker, I am a storyteller. I have done television. I have written my book. This journey started on Facebook. I used to write a story a day. Those stories became so popular, I got a lot of production houses asking if I could make a short film out of this. Slowly, my interest in the digital space grew because of these stories. A storyteller needs some platform to tell a story. It doesn't matter to me if you watch it on the phone, or the screen." 

The 1921 (2018) director also praised the freedom offered by the internet to filmmakers and creators. He said, "As a matter of fact, this medium is far more freedom giving than films. You don't have any diktats. There is a lot of independence," he said. 

However, this does not mean that filmmakers use it as an excuse to fill their films with sex and violence. Bhatt said, "Selling of sex in films is dead, thanks to my partners Jio. There was a time when people did not have access to data. So the only sexuality was the one that sold on screen. Now that data is so cheap. Everyone has data. So, we have to sell stories." 

Bhatt's statement might strike a chord with users who were induced to cringe with Ram Gopal Varma's recent tryst with a film, God Sex and Truth, which starred the adult film actress, Mia Malkova. The film was vehemently opposed by activists, and panned by critics. 

Bhatt, however, believes that while there is a growing number of filmmakers entering the digital space, it is important that they pay it the same respect as the big screen. He said, "You cannot show people films that won't be released on the big screen. People are very smart. They will not take 'this film is not selling. It won't find release on television. Let's put it on the internet'. They won't take it. It has to be as good as a theatrical release. That's how Netflix is Netflix because they respect the viewers' time." 

The app is currently available for download on Android and iOS platforms.