Amidst pandemic, here's how Tollywood performed on OTT platforms
Amidst pandemic, here's how Tollywood performed on OTT platforms

When producers announced that they were going to skip theatrical release and go in for direct OTT streaming, theatre owners were up in arms about the decision. They were unhappy that films that could draw in crowds once the lockdown ended were bypassing them. However, four months since the closure of theatres, most of the films released on OTT platforms have received a lukewarm response from viewers.

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The first south Indian film, not counting the offbeat indie film Sethum Aayiram Pon, to have a direct OTT release in this period was the long-delayed RK Nagar in Tamil. The film came out briefly on Netflix in December last year but was removed. It quietly re-released on April 29. However, the insipid comedy with Vaibhav in the lead failed to make a splash.

Amazon Prime Video announced that it had acquired seven Indian films, including five south Indian films, for direct OTT release. The news led to much hand-wringing and even threats from theatre owners. For instance, in Tamil Nadu, there was talk of theatres boycotting Suriya’s films since his production house 2D had decided to go for a direct OTT release with Ponmagal Vandhal, starring his wife and actor Jyotika in the lead. Other south Indian films to directly release on Amazon Prime Video were Penguin (Tamil), Sufiyum Sujatayum (Malayalam), Law (Kannada) and French Biriyani (Kannada).

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Netflix, however, has had better luck with its new south Indian direct OTT releases. The platform premiered two Telugu films, Krishna and his Leela and Uma Maheswara Ugra Roopasya. While theatre owners and producers appeared to be on opposing sides as far as OTT direct releases are concerned, in the southern industries at least they seem to be inadvertently on the same page. As for disappointing fans, they can take some consolation in the fact that they didn’t spend extra money on buying tickets.

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