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Dhoomam maker Pawan Kumar on making YouTube the most democratic way to show a film

After Dhoomam came out on YouTube for free, it got 18 lakh views for the Malayalam version, which tells Pawan that there is an audience for content-rich cinema

Dhoomam maker Pawan Kumar on making YouTube the most democratic way to show a film

Dhoomam is directed by Pawan Kumar

Last Updated: 07.33 PM, Jun 25, 2024


Kannada filmmaker Pawan Kumar’s Dhoomam was a box office failure when it came out a year ago. The filmmaker admits that his thoughts on the tobacco industry and smoking – active and passive – may not have worked for some audiences. But what’s intrigued Pawan is that after struggling to get an OTT partner and putting the film on Apple TV+ for TVOD, Dhoomam was eventually released on YouTube for free consumption and the Malayalam version has registered a whopping 18 lakh views since.

Enable a filmmaker to make another film: Pawan Kumar

The only reason Pawan was able to put his film out for free was because it was backed by Hombale Films, which could take the loss and still go ahead and make bigger films. “But there are 1,000 other filmmakers who don’t have that luxury and the only way to allow them to reach out to the audience is by making it clear that you are available on, say, YouTube. The most democratic way to show a film is YouTube. Let a filmmaker put his film on the platform, which is what I have been suggesting to a lot of them, and then leave a UPI QR code alongside for the audience to decide what they’d like to pay for the film if they liked it,” says Pawan.


He adds that this nominal payment, will allow the filmmaker to recover some of his making cost. “If we are to take the example of Dhoomam in Malayalam, if the 18 lakh people had scanned and paid Rs 100 each, we’d have made Rs 18 crore. Imagine what I can do with that kind of money. We didn’t do it, but there are a lot of independent filmmakers out there who need this support. Very soon there is a going to be a wave of films that will come out on YouTube for free. If you pay, the filmmaker you are enabling him to make another film and not fall into the trap of doing only what works for theatres or OTTs,” says Pawan.

The Lucia maker says that there are many filmmakers who are trying to make content-rich films and that there is an audience for that. This may be only 20-25% of the audience, but reaching this segment, he reckons, has become very hard. “Like our education system, we are putting every film through the same marketing and distribution mechanism, which is not going to work. 18 lakh people have clicked on the youtube link of Dhoomam now, because they don’t have to pay for it. Even if 30% of them had clicked on the BookMyShow link a year ago, this film would have been a box office success. But they didn’t. Now what stopped them?” he asks.

Fahadh Faasil in Dhoomam
Fahadh Faasil in Dhoomam

Pawan reckons that audiences did not watch Dhoomam in theatres because they’d heard a buzz that the film is not good. “But this buzz that one hears, is one that is made for a certain kind of audience. This same buzz will tell you another film is awesome and when you watch it, you may not like it. We are falling for this trap of buzz, which is killing many small-budget high-concept films that cannot create this,” he says, adding that audiences ought to watch trailers and posters and decide whether to watch a film or not.

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