‘OTTs not looking at smaller films anymore’: Venkat Prabhu on anthology release
Ahead of the premiere of the upcoming Tamil anthology Victim - Who is next? on streaming platform Sony LIV on August 5, filmmakers Venkat Prabhu, Pa Ranjith, and Chimbu Devan, who have each directed a short in the anthology, along with filmmaker Rajesh M, spoke to the media about the making of the anthology, its OTT release, and more. The anthology features four shorts. The cast includes actors Nasser, Thambi Ramaiah, Natraj, Priya Bavani Shankar, Kalaiarasan, Guru Somasundaram, Prasanna, Amala Paul, Krish and others in prominent roles.
Pa Ranjith’s Dhammam which features Kalaiarasan of Sarpatta fame and Minnal Murali actor Guru Somasundaram, among others in the lead, will explore ties between land ownership and caste politics. Ranjith is known for critically acclaimed anti-caste films like Madras, Sarpatta Parambarai and Kaala, among others.
Chimbu Devan’s film Kottai Pakku Vathalum, Mottai Maadi Sitharum is a fantasy flick about a
supernatural character played by actor Nasser, who has lived for 400 years. Chimbu Devan has experimented with the concept before through the film Arai En 305-il Kadavul which featured Prakash Raj’s character as a god descending to earth and living with people.Thambi Ramaiah has also been roped in for a key role in the short.
M Rajesh’s Mirrage, which features actors Priya Bhavani Shankar and Natraj in the lead, is a story set against the backdrop of a haunted house. In the trailer, we see a woman encountering strange instances. M Rajesh has directed films like Siva Manasula Sakthi, Oru Kal Oru Kannadi, and Boss Engira Bhaskaran, which are popular for their comedy sequences.
Cinematographers R Saravanan, Sakthi Saravanan, and Thamizh A Azhagan have been roped in for the project, while Sam CS, Premgi, Ganesh Sekar and Tenma are on board as music composers. Produced by Axess Film Factory and Black Ticket Company, the anthology has been edited by Lawrence Kishore, Akash Thomas, Selva RK, and Venkat Raajen.
Watch the trailer of Victim - Who is Next?
Speaking about the making of the anthology, director Chimbu Devan explained how most of it was filmed during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Each one of us selected a location and tried to shoot the entire short there. In my film, it was a terrace, Ranjith chose an agricultural field, and in Venkat’s short, it was a house,” the filmmaker said. Chimbu Devan who had teamed up with Venkat Prabhu for his previous project, the anthology Kasada Tabara, also added that it was Venkat Prabhu who brought all the four directors together for Victim - Who is next?
Speaking further about the making and conceptualisation, Ranjith said that it was one of the few projects where he was not tasked with the job of carrying out too many edits. “It is one of the few films where I wrote a script for 15-16 pages and the visuals I shot were close to 32 minutes. It also made the process easier for the editor,” Ranjith shared.
Filmmaker Venkat Prabhu who recently delivered the hit political drama Maanaadu starring Silambarasan, observed that both Rajesh and he have picked genres that they have not explored much. Unlike Venkat Prabhu’s previous outings which were comedy dramas, his short in the anthology, Confession, stars Amala Paul and Prasanna in the lead, and is based on the story of a sniper killer who threatens to kill till he gets a confession out of a woman who lives alone. “It is not very similar to my previous films, but since this was an OTT project, there was scope to push the boundaries for the woman lead,” Venkat remarked.
When questioned about his thoughts on the commercialisation of OTT platforms, Venkat Prabhu shared, “It is true that smaller films are finding it difficult to seal OTT deals. As I mentioned earlier, so many films are released in theatres, but it is only really big action dramas or films made at a grand scale that are grabbing eyeballs. Even for films on OTT, having a star to pull audiences in, has become an important factor. If you look at the top 10 trending titles on Netflix in India, you are likely to only find projects featuring stars in the lead. There are good content-driven movies, but they don’t get the same kind of attention unless there are good reviews,” Venkat opined.
Adding to Venkat’s point, Ranjith noted, “Platforms like Netflix were earlier known for taking in smaller films, but nowadays, in many cases, OTT platforms are directly saying that they are not looking at smaller films.”
Explaining the reason behind releasing the anthology on an Over-the-top (OTT) platform, Venkat quipped, “People only want to watch big films offering a visual spectacle in the theatre. They want the film to offer a true theatrical experience. This is not a trend that we are witnessing only in India. Even in America, we are seeing how Marvel and DC films are drawing people back to the cinema halls,” the Chennai 600028 filmmaker expressed.