On the digital stage

The pandemic has boosted streaming services as lockdowns and social restrictions have kept people away from theatres despite their otherworldly charms. A set of filmmakers and production houses in the Malayalam film industry too are working on riding on the streaming wave and readying over-the-top (OTT) platforms that offer content devoted exclusively to Malayalam.

Saina, a name that had traditionally been associated with videocassettes/VCDs is giving final touches to Saina Play. The medium has gathered a pack of regional content, artistic productions, and films which have won critical acclaim. “We are creating a parallel space with advanced technology to give the ultimate viewing experience. We executed a project to find regional content using a talent hunt and the response has been huge. Our platform will also aim to promote experimental content that will tap less explored genres like the fantasy in Malayalam,” says Aashiq Baava, founder, Saina Play.

The technical team working behind the platform is aware of the challenges. “We are competing with the best in the industry. In terms of image quality, audio, and streaming, the standard has to be set at the highest level. Our focus is on faster delivery of content, path optimization, and smooth viewing experience,” says Anil Nair, chief technical officer of Bitryt Solutions, which develops the platform.

Saina is also lining up classic productions of the past on the platform. This is done using artificial intelligence-enabled image-enhancing tools. “Old cinema has its own value and we are trying to give the quality it deserves. Saina Play will also focus on documentaries and award-winning films. There is a need to create a niche for Malayalam in the digital platform,” says Baava.

Movement for Independent Cinema (MIC), which emerged as a collective of independent filmmakers in Malayalam is launching Indyscreen, a platform for streaming independent films. Indyscreen will showcase not only Malayalam films but also those from other Indian languages and from other parts of the world. The platform will also stream indie documentaries and short films. Films on Indyscreen will be selected by an independent panel of expert selectors. Indyscreen is driven by around 30 shareholders.

“Independent cinema has always been plagued with the dearth of screening space in theatres. But when we look at it closely, even the viewers who turn up in theatres to watch these films are very nominal. An online platform offers wider space for viewers with a common interest from all over the world,” says independent filmmaker Santosh Babusenan, one of the founders of Indyscreen.

According to them, Indyscreen is not motivated by business interests but created entirely by independent filmmakers and film lovers for the benefit of independent films. The intention is to take these films to their viewers and help generate some money for the filmmakers so that they can continue to make more such films.

VNext, another streaming service in the pipeline will have content from as many as 30 categories. “We are offering a more diverse space for various digital content. It is not limited to films. Dramas and solo performances like mimicry will also be given space. The revenue model has been designed in such a way that producers would find it fair and reasonable,” says Edavela Babu, chairman of Road Trip Innovations, which is launching the online streaming platform.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.


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