(L to R) Deepika Padukone, Disha Patani and Mihir Fadnavis
With such few measures of what succeeds on OTT, the new top 10 in movies and web series from IMDb throws up some interesting facts. IMDb determines its list based on IMDbPro data on the page views of IMDb users in India, and the most popular Indian movies in the last six months have been The Kashmir Files, KGF: Chapter 2, RRR, followed by Gangubai Kathiawadi, Vikram, Jhund, Samrat Prithviraj, Runway 34, A Thursday and Hridayam. Some reflections? The stars most in the news are not necessarily the ones with the most popular movies. A case in point is Ranveer Singh, who has been making waves for his Netflix series Ranveer Vs Wild with Bear Grylls, the opening episode of Koffee with Karan Season 7, and for accompanying his wife to America. Tabloid presence and social media headlines don’t necessarily translate into successful movies, despite releasing Jayeshbhai Jordaar during this period. Ditto for Deepika Padukone, whose Gehraiyaan was much publicised on OTT, and Kangana Ranaut who made the action film Dhaakad, which was perhaps too dark for theatrical audiences. Both of them were social media regulars, Padukone thanks to her stint on the Cannes Film Festival jury, and Ranaut thanks to her statements on social media. The top 10 list in web series is even more revealing: Campus Diaries on MX Player, The Great Indian Murder on Disney+Hotstar, Rocket Boys on SonyLIV, Panchayat on Prime Video, Human on Disney+Hotstar, Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein on Netflix, Apharan on Voot and ALTBalaji, Escaype Live on Disney+Hotstar, and Mai and The Fame Game on Netflix. The lesson from this? Good stories, complex storytelling, offbeat narratives are all working on OTT. Also, there are no heroes and heroines any longer, just interesting characters played by good actors, whether it is Sakshi Tanwar being a vengeful mother in Mai or Shefali Shah playing an amoral doctor in Human. Also, the most promoted shows are not necessarily the ones that do well. Audiences—and algorithms—have their own way of getting the content they want.
Air Force’s Loss
She comes from a household where there was no distinction between girls and boys. While her sister is a major in the Indian Army, she wanted to be an Air Force pilot, which is why she did a BTech from Amity University, Lucknow. But a brief foray for the district-level basketball player into a beauty contest, and Disha Patani was attracted to the movies. Beginning with a Telugu movie, she has since tried to play strong, independent women, because that is “who I am”. She credits her father for that motivation. Her father was a national-level basketball player with Uttar Pradesh Police and the family travelled all over the state till her mother decided to stay put in Bareilly where young Disha attended BBL Public School. Soon to appear in Ek Villain Returns where she says she plays a woman who has no qualms about using men to achieve what she wants, Disha says she is shy and awkward around people. “But put on the camera and I feel no one can see me,” she says. An advocate of dance and fitness, she trains to build muscle and eats good meals to sustain her strength. Starving oneself to be thin is not what she believes in, and also something she advocates to young women.
Scene and Heard
We seem to have forgotten the lessons of Covid-19 already. Mihir Fadnavis, who made the stirring Lords of Lockdown, agrees, saying that the series of distractions have been created to make people forget the trauma. So, thank God for his Lords of Lockdown, produced by Navin Shetty and Anurag Kashyap, which follows four Good Samaritans who risked their lives so that others could live during the lockdown. “We were put through something we could have avoided if we had put some commonsense in place. We have changed as a species but I am not sure it was for the good,” he says. The documentary has been selected for the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne, and promises to do well in the footsteps of India’s other recent triumphs. The documentary was an act of courage as it was shot at the height of the pandemic when few knew the exact shape of the virus. There were no vaccines, no PPE kits, only masks. “It was surreal,” he says, and that sense of limbo Mumbai was in has been captured in the documentary. Fadnavis, a former journalist, is inspired by Matthew Heineman’s fearlessness in Cartel Land (2015) and City of Ghosts (2017). He shot for six months and followed at least 10 stories, so he has enough footage for two more movies. Lords of Lockdown 2?