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OTT platforms cannot replace the joy of going to the cinema, says Paatal Lok star Jaideep Ahlawat

The actor spoke about the growth of streaming services in India and across the world and whether this would affect footfalls in cinema halls once the lockdown ends.

Suyog Zore

The countrywide lockdown has greatly hurt industries in India, including the entertainment industry. With cinema halls shut for the foreseeable future, people have been turning to OTT (over-the-top) platforms to quench their thirst for entertainment.

Considering the worldwide reach of OTT platforms and the uncertainty over the opening of cinema halls, even producers of mid-budget films are now looking to release their films digitally, skipping the theatrical run.

Shoojit Sircar's Gulabo Sitabo, starring Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana, will be released on Amazon Prime Video next month. Films like the Vidya Balan-starrer Shakuntala Devi (2020), the Urvashi Rautela-starrer Virgin Bhanupriya (2020) and the Jyotika-starrer Ponmagal Vandhal (2020) are also going directly to Amazon Prime Video. And looking at the current grim situation, it may not be surprising to see more filmmakers choose this route.

Concerns have been raised by exhibitors and some others in the film industry about this trend and how it may adversely affect the theatre-going habit. But Jaideep Ahlawat, who is currently basking in the success of his Amazon Prime Video web-series Paatal Lok (2020), is not worried. The actor believes that no matter what, cinema will always have an impact on the audience.

"Movies that were made at the start of this millennium are still considered cult classics," Ahlawat pointed out. "I think the joy of going to the theatre and watching a film cannot be replaced. But, obviously, OTT platforms have substantial scope to flourish."

Ahlawat played a washed-up police inspector, Hathi Ram Chaudhary, in Paatal Lok, which was released on 15 May, and has been receiving rave reviews from critics and fans alike. This was the first time he played the lead in his ten-year career in cinema and seeing the accolades he has been getting for his performance, the wait seems to have been well worth it.

This was Ahlawat's second web-series after Bard Of Blood, and the actor feels OTT platforms will only grow bigger internationally. "About two decades ago, you had to pay for incoming calls on your mobile phone," he pointed out. "Who would have thought then of using smartphones to watch all kinds of audio-visual content from all over the world? I think OTT platforms will certainly grow bigger worldwide. One cannot ignore the fact that OTT platforms have a lot of scope. There are many opportunities on this platform in the Indian subcontinent as well."