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The Business Of Getting Offended And How OTT Changes It

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Recently, actors and makers of Amazon
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Prime Video’s India original webseries Tandav were slapped with legal cases because certain factions of the society found the show insulting and claimed it hurt their religious sentiments. Tandav is currently available on Amazon, minus the scenes in question. In such a scenario, how is the business of films affected with these protests and objections?

India has seen several instances when violent protests against a film led to theaters shutting down and refusing to screen it. Howsoever misplaced, such protests used to affect the business of a film. Films as big as Shah Rukh Khan’s My Name Is Khan and Deepika Padukone’s Padmaavat had to be pulled down from theaters or theater owners refused to screen them because of such protests. But how much is the impact when one talks about content released on digital platforms?

Film trade analyst Atul Mohan explains that the financial impact is zero, when it comes to content for digital platforms. “The producers have already made their deals, gotten their dues before the film or series releases and the platform already has an allocated budget. Most of these platforms are subscription-based, and not pay-per-view. Therefore, monetarily, the makers are not affected. Of course they need to bear the cost for legal procedures,” he says.

Mr Mohan adds that even for theatrical releases, the losses are minimal. For a film releasing in, say 3000 screens, reports of violence or the film being pulled down are in single digits. “In fact, such protests may even work in the film’s favour as it raises the curiosity of the audience who want to explore the ‘controversial’ content,” he adds.

Movie trade analyst Komal Nahata agrees that producers bear negligible cost for such protests when it comes to OTT releases. He adds that the legal costs is something that they bear. However, Mr Nahata insists that a censorship on the digital platforms is much needed. “The filmmakers believe that abusive language and sex are important to prove their work is original and great. I mean, I understand if the story requires it. But most of them are simply using those because they are allowed to. There was this discussion around self-regulation, but that does not seem to have worked at all. We certainly need censorship for digital platforms.”

Meanwhile, news agencies have claimed that Amazon Prime’s much-awaited India original, The Family Man may have been indefinitely postponed in wake of the recent protests against Tandav and Mirzapur.

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