After seven months of complete shutdown, theatres finally got a nod to reopen with 50% occupancy. Happy with the move, filmmaker-actor Ananth Mahadevan feels now is the time when small-budget yet high on content films can lead the movement.
“The darkness between you and the big screen, the community viewing is the irreplaceable magic that cinema creates. You can’t have that 70 mm feel on as mobile, tab or small screen. Hence, the present state of affair was depressing,” he says.
Talking about the 50% occupancy norm, Mahadevan finds it’s amusing as for him, even if 40 people are watch his film in a 100/200-seater hall, that’s enough.
“I’ve been telling multiplexes to give small budget films like ours — Gour Hari Dastaan starring Vinay Pathak — a few good timing for a couple of weeks with reduced ticket prices, and see how it also draws sizeable audience, but that never happened. Now that the world has been churned and turned inside out with no big budget taking the chance of releasing now, smaller ones that didn’t get much space earlier, can be the saviour. I myself have two films to offer,” he explains.
Mahadevan feels it’s time that the industry understands how audiences’ mindset have changed as even in the absence of box office, there are films releasing on digital platforms that aren’t doing well.
“Audience won’t accept something mediocre even if they get it for free. So, it’s not about the Friday, Saturday and Sunday anymore. Now they want films that would last for 30 years,” explains the National Award-winning director.
Hopeful that things will work out for theatres, he mentions that this leap of faith was much required.
“Imagine James Bond also ran away to 2022 (refers No Time To Die release date postponed from 2021 to next year),” he quips and adds, “We needed to take this leap of faith. And I think we’ll survive this one.”
Meanwhile, Mahadevan’s Marathi film Bittersweet (highlighting the plight of sugarcane cutters in Maharashtra) will premier at Busan Film Festival and has been nominated for Jiseok Awards as well. Excited with the news, the filmmaker shares that he’s ready to release the film in India, too.
“It’s a story that I felt the world should know. We shot and finished everything just before the lockdown. It getting selected for the prestigious Busan Film Festival only goes on to say our efforts haven’t gone in vain,” says Mahadevan, whose earlier films GHD, Rough Book (2016) and Mai Ghat: Crime No 103/2005 (2019) also travelled to film festivals.