Amidst the sweltering heat in
Kerala, Malayalees are gearing up for the release of the new Ranjith movie
Ranjith directs the film, and the screenplay and story is by Unni.R. Biju Menon plays the main character, with Vijayaraghavan, Parvathy Nambiar, Jagadesh, Indrans and so on donning other pivotal characters.
What makes Leela special is the
story content and experimental nature of the movie. But what makes it
exceptionally unique is that Leela will get an online release on the same day
as its theater release, April 22.
In the current scenario of surging popularity
of online streaming services like Netflix and their availability in India, it
is indeed highly debatable whether Leela will make enough returns from its
online release as well.
Mollywood’s own Leela goes online
on www.reelax.in owned and operated by Eram group. The movie is available for pre-booking
at INR 450 and at a cost of INR 500 after the release. On purchase of the movie
it will be available for seven days to view, and once you start watching it
will be available for a period of 24 hours. You can pause, replay, stop,
restart and basically do anything to watch at your own leisure and most
importantly, at the comforts of your home.
Eram group happily reports that over 300 people have already registered for pre-booking to watch Leela online.
We are speaking of the Indian audience, whom even after realizing the vices of piracy, turn to Torrent for downloading those movies they missed at the theatres. Even otherwise, with DTS sound system that makes the theatre experience more enriching than the stereo audio at home, people tend pay to watch at theatres than online.
While we are talking about the expenses, a free movie available in Torrent or YouTube few months after the release would appeal to a common movie watcher. No, I am not talking about movie buffs like you. First day first show, see the movie before your neighbor does – all these appeal to us, yeah, but let’s face it, there is still a major population who wouldn’t give much care about such novelties.
In this busy schedule of the Indian population, movie going still holds the significance of a family outing. It might be those rare moments when the banker Papa, IIT Beta and the belan-wielding Mamma make an escape out of their homes to relax at the theatres for 3 hours.
In the light of all these, one should get highly skeptical about the success
rate of online release of movies in India.
In spite of all the above issues,
what drives film makers to consider an online release?
In the case of Leela, some known inside politics ultimately lead to an unpleasant situation where Ranjith could not conjure release rights for Leela, especially for an overseas release. The same situation has been faced by many offbeat Indian movies, or rather independent movies that never even hit the theaters because certain lobbies decided the profitability of releasing such movies.
The same had happened to Sulemani Keeda. Being an offbeat venture, it did not get released in many theaters, and did not garner much profits too. That was when TVF Play took up the online distribution of the movie, selling it at INR 99. The success was huge, and we saw them repeat history with their next venture Angry Indian Goddesses.
Another benefit of online release is its availability for a longer period of time. Alternate films that are mostly driven by passion for film making, end up being scuffed out of theatres within a week of its release. But being available online, people who want to watch it can pay and view it anytime they want.
Definitely, availability of movies can go a long way to prevent piracy through services like Torrent. Movie like Premam, The Interview, The Revenant and so on had a very large commercial appeal to them. Still they failed to reap profits that were entitled to them, due to blast in the internet with pirated copies. They could have made large profit by releasing it online as well. This would have ensured that those who prefer to watch it outside the theaters pay and buy the legitimate copies of the movie.
Online release of Indian movies will also help to cater a larger population of Indian audience living in different parts of the globe. Almost always the movies don’t reach the international theaters for them to watch. With a Malayalee believed to be residing on all four directions of the Earth, online releases may prove to reap more profits than speculated.
And The Bottom-Line?
A major benefit about film distribution through Video On Demand is the quality of the print that would be available at the comforts of our home. With majors like Netflix giving out top quality picture and audio experience, though for a higher price, it is something any movie lover can go gaga over.
But a major disadvantage is the lack of availability of Indian content on
global services like Netflix. Unless Netflix tailors its services for the
Indian customer, success in India still looks bleak.
As for other streaming services like TVF Play, HotStar, Reelax and so on, a major hurdle would be promotion and delivering quality content at competent prices.
All eyes set on Leela, its release would prove to be a pivotal point in the future of movie-going. It will not be a surprise if Leela proves to be a blockbuster.
Catch Malayalam’s first ever Online Release at www.reelax.in on April 22nd.