Udayavni Special

Good if brainless cinema is impacted by audience shift to OTT, says Nawazuddin Siddiqui

PTI, Nov 27, 2020, 4:36 PM IST

Mumbai: Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui says audiences were exposed to quality world cinema on OTT platforms during the pandemic, which he hopes will lead them to reject “formulaic” films.

With theatres closed for more than six months due to the coronavirus pandemic, several big ticket movies opted for a digital release.

Many now wonder whether the shift from theatrical to digital is good for commercial cinema, considering they are made keeping the theatrical sensibilities in mind.

In an interview with PTI, Siddiqui said during the lockdown there were some exceptional web shows that came out and if this has impacted commercial cinema, then “it’s good.”

“Most of the commercial cinema is brainless, especially formulaic films. If you continue to talk about brainless things, then thanks to OTT now, people watched world cinema during the pandemic. I hope they were educated by that.

“Otherwise, people thought a film was all about hero, heroine, six songs and the woman being in it only to fall in love. It was important for this kind of cinema to get impacted,” said Siddiqui.

The actor’s last two releases Raat Akeli Hai and Serious Men were successful on Netflix.

Siddiqui, however, said streaming platforms should be cautious going forward in order to not fall into the trap of commerce that dictates theatrical business.

The 46-year-old actor hoped that the digital medium remains brave and doesn’t succumb to the same storytelling that the big screen offers.

“We shouldn’t make OTT a business, because then the same pattern will be repeated. What you were watching in theatres, now you’d watch the same kind of films on OTT, which won’t be good.”

Siddiqui made his streaming debut in 2018 with Netflix’s India original Sacred Games.

Helmed by Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane and Neeraj Ghaywan, the two-part series not only earned global acclaim but also kickstarted a trend of crime thrillers on OTT platforms.

Siddiqui said the reason the digital space is populated with crime thrillers is because it’s an attractive genre.

But what, the actor said, he has observed is a “dangerous” mindset of creators to blindly follow the benchmark set by Sacred Games.

“In the last few months, I saw a couple of episodes (of other shows) and realised one should create something of their own. If you try to capture ‘Sacred Games’, you won’t be able to because it has gone far ahead.

“Sacred Games became a hit not because of the abuses but because of its strong subtext, characters, vision. If you only try to think, ‘Oh, even we will add abuses to our show, it’ll become a hit,’ then it’ll become shallow.”

The actor said the Indian OTT scene, which is at a nascent stage, should not get trapped in producing same kind of programmes.

“The kind of content coming on OTT now, which is a bit sexual, sensational and with abuses suggests we are already trapped. We need to get out of it soon,” he said on the sidelines of a discussion organised by Royal Stag Barrel Select Large Short Films.

The platform, which hosts and backs short films, brought together others from the fraternity, including Saif Ali Khan, Manoj Bajpayee and Samantha Akkineni, to discuss the growth and evolution of the short film format and cinema at large.

Though he believes short films require a lot more preparation, Siddiqui said his attempt as an actor has always been to push himself irrespective of the medium he is working on.

“I am always trying to find something through my characters, which even I don’t know. Playing different characters, putting myself in uncomfortable zones, exploring unknown areas of my personality is my life.

“If in the process, fans support and appreciate me, it’s wonderful. But I’ve always looked at my acting as my personal journey.”

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