Since real-life inspired stories mostly spread through word of mouth, makers say they do not feel the pressure to do well commercially when they release them on OTT
OTT platforms are increasingly growing in popularity especially for their content inspired by real-life incidents and people. Films and series like Budhia Singh, Kaafir and Scam 1992 have found their places on various platforms and are being received well by the audience.
Filmmakers believe OTT works better for real-life stories as they are not bound by any commercial restrictions. In an interview with ToI, director Soumendra Padhi who has helmed Budhia Singh and Jamtara, both inspired by real-life stories, said the platform allows the audience to eventually explore your work. "Sadly, the commercial model we have in Indian cinema meant it (film Bhudhia Singh) had to be taken off in a week as it didn’t get the required numbers. That pressure is off in OTT. The work is much more visible. OTT gives breathing space to indie filmmakers and people who want to try different stuff," he said to the daily. Budhia Singh is his film based on the long-distance runner who became popular for his feats as a child. Now, 19 years, he is said to be the world's youngest marathon runner. Jamtara, on the other hand, is a show inspired by a phishing racket in rural Jharkhand.
Over-the-top (OTT) platforms also give an advantage of extended run time to makers compared to just about two hours of a full-fledged movie. However, the run time depends on the storyline and the subject. For example, an OTT series Gandhi may not make for as interesting a watch as the 1982 Richard Attenborough movie. It can be explored for the digital medium. But the story and character arcs are written differently for an OTT release. OTT allows makers to explore more with their subjects and contents. Having said that, it does not mean every series or film for OTT has to be a lengthy one. Filmmaker Hansal Mehta added that the medium allowed them to explore the life and conspiracy theories around Bose in his project Bose but it did not become a very lengthy series. On the other hand, Scam 1992 had so much material that they had to let go of many details to make an interesting experience for the viewers. They followed a particular journey, a particular path. Since OTT offers more freedom, makers can also explore the subject and other characters apart from the protagonist, in depth.
But with greater freedom comes greater responsibility. With more freedom on OTT platforms, makers say the subjects need to be more authentic and accurate. Research is the key for such real-life depictions. "Any fictionalisation or dramatisation has to be a responsible one, done in a way that it doesn't twist the character or the event beyond recognition," said Bhavani Iyer, the screenwriter of the 2019 drama series Kaafir to the daily. The series starred Dia Mirza and followed her character Kainaaz Akhtar, a woman from PoK who is held prisoner in India under the suspicion of being a militant.
With more exposure, the consumption pattern of the audience has changed. They also understand what's genuine and real and expect high-quality content. So the bar is set high, added the screenwriter.