At a press meet of the upcoming SonlyLiv anthology Victim, directors Pa Ranjith, Venkat Prabhu, and Chimbu Deven opened up about the OTT vs theatre debate, and more.
Victim, an anthology film, set to release on SonyLIV on August 4, brought together renowned Tamil directors Pa Ranjith, Venkat Prabhu, Chimbu Deven, and Rajesh M. The underlying theme of the four-part anthology is about victims. The anthology stars popular actors such as Amala Paul, Kalaiyarasan, Prasanna, Nasser, Thambi Ramaiah, and Priya Bhavani Shankar.
At a recent media interaction, Venkat Prabhu, Pa Ranjith, and Chimbu Deven came together to interact about the film, and spoke about the current trends in Tamil cinema, and the ongoing OTT vs theatre debate. Addressing the notion that even OTT platforms have started to go after big stars instead of good content, Ranjith admitted, “True. Even Netflix was buying quality content, but with time they also went for projects with star value. Now, they outright say they are not into buying anything that doesn’t have the star value.” Further elaborating on the problems with making originals for OTT platforms, “OTT platforms come with a lot of demands and want something that will suit their audience. They do interfere with the scripts. More than production companies, OTTs are putting heavy pressure on the makers.”
Pa Ranjith’s segment in the anthology seems to be the favourite, even among the other three directors of the anthology. Chimbu Deven said, “I was surprised to see how Ranjith found a story in something we pass by every day. He has done a lot with such a limited space. These days drone shots are overused and have become overwhelming. Yet, in Ranjith’s film, they are beautiful and warrant their existence.” On the other hand, Ranjith admitted that he hasn’t seen the other three segments yet.
Pa Ranjith’s short stars his frequent collaborator Kalaiyarasan. They have worked together in films such as Attakathi, Madras, Kaala, and Sarpatta Parambarai. Ranjith said about their collaborations, “I let my actors do the job on their own instead of teaching them. This is something I learnt from Venkat Prabhu sir (his former mentor). He (Venkat Prabhu) will let the actors improvise and work on the dialogues. That’s what I follow, too. In many films, actors end up acting like their directors. I don’t believe that it’s the director’s job to make people act. It’s the task of the actors. I work with people who understand this and can do the job. And Kalaiyarasan does that brilliantly.”
When asked why the anthology format doesn’t work in theatres, Venkat Prabhu said, “Currently, audiences are coming to theatres only if the film has something larger than life. This film is made for the story, and honestly, not for theatres. People don’t come to theatres for films like this. They need a theatrical experience. Even in the US, it is the case. Only films like Fast and Furious and Christopher Nolan’s films are attracting people to theatres. On the other hand, films with content and drama are finding their place in OTT. We are in that era. It’s high time we accept it.”
“However,” he added, “Theatres won’t go away. Steven Spielberg said that like the 4D films we find in amusement parks, film industries will also move towards creating such an immersive experience. So, theatre experience will evolve, but it will always be around.”
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