Independent Films Will Never Be the Same Again: Bobby Bedi

By Pickle  September 2, 2018

For those interested in mathematics, there is a method of solving equations which involves the introduction of an external character often represented by the Greek letter Lamda. It helps solve the equation, in fact the equation cannot be solved without it. But once solved it can be removed. The solution stays. I will come back to Lamda later in this piece.

OTT is the new field for TV drama and independent film making. It has changed everything, scripts, budgets, quality of art, even the list of senior crew and actors prepared to work on the smaller formats.

The Ad break was the bane of home viewing. As an audience, we had come to believe that our pleasure and concentration was at the mercy of soap, shampoo, sweet black liquids, the list is endless. OTT removed the AD break.

The other possibly bigger bane of home viewing was the belief that while all human beings are born equal, (which is true), therefore they must consume entertainment identically, in fixed doses and at fixed times. This, even though their consumption patterns of food clothing, other necessities and luxuries was in their control their viewing pleasure was in the control of the GECs.

For me, there is a third bane. I must watch my favorite film accompanied by a poison decided by the cinema. Nope! No hope of a cocktail or glass of wine.

Netflix and Amazon changed that. All theories about consumption patterns, attention spans, viewing habits et al were thrown out of the window. What was additionally thrown out was the belief that just because you are watching it at home and on a smaller screen, the quality need not match up to the expectations of the cinema experience.

And, to be honest, what is cinema experience?  In India the exhibitors treat independent cinema like they treat lepers. They give the small independents small screens and at the most inconvenient times. If you want to see an independent film it will necessarily be at the cinema’s convenience, not yours.

All that is changing. I have viewed more and better drama in the last two years than I have viewed in the last 20. Never a fan of ad breaks, I never saw films on TV and my lifestyle rarely permitted me to plan a film outing unless it was really “one of those big ones”. Today I look forward to my post dinner two (maybe three) hours of viewing across a range of content. Addictive web-series and films I couldn’t see. All accompanied by my choice of poison.

Also, what the OTTs have created is a giant online super store. The store has everything akin to a real superstore. Laid out for you specially.  Popular offerings in the front, shelves full of normal fare and dead stock at the dusty back, but it is all there in case you want it and it’s there at the press of a button.

So, what does all this have to do with independent film? Is this not just enhanced TV? My belief is that it is not.  Drama is drama, which is not to be confused with “Spectacle”.  And the drama watching experience is not really reduced when consumed at home.  “Going to the Pictures” is largely reserved for spectacle.  Definitely true of India. If it has a star, if it has mythology, if it is BIG, see it in a cinema. That’s what Indian audiences are doing.

Now back to my Lamda theory

OTT has raised the bar for the viewer and everyone has to stretch up to it. And it has raised the bar for all viewers, so even the ”made for screen” independents have to deliver to higher expectations.  India is gearing up to delivering quality. Sacred Games is not quite “Fauda” but it well ahead of anything that Indian TV has ever shown.

Even the so called “Spectacles” have to deliver a higher quality or writing and performance. It has changed completely the quality of writing, direction, photography and, consequently, the amount spent on production.

Now take away Lamda.  Fortunately, while Netflix and Amazon have set the bar, they aren’t really relevant to India. Their numbers are sub one million in a 1.3 billion population. The real play will be amongst Hotstar, Sony Liv, Zee5 and the many new entrants.  They will reinvent the product for the larger Indian audience.

Let us look at the challenges ahead.  Technically we are fine. Creatively we have a bridge to cross.  Indian Cinema has defined, even invented its own world.  Our characters do not exist.  They are larger than life.  No one behaves, speaks, looks, dresses, walks or even lives like them.  They are written as “invented” characters and our actors deliver them as written.

Scripted drama is different. Writers have to write real characters and situations and actors have to perform them as written. Directors have to understand the real world.  All three classes of talent have to reorient themselves, even reinvent themselves.  It can be done and hopefully will be done.  Sacred Games was a step in the right direction.

This is going to be a new era for independent cinema – different, no doubt, but better and at a larger scale. It will create opportunities for talent that have so far been ignored.

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *




Berlinale Forum Celebrates Golden Jubilee in 2020

Berlinale 2020 Poster Unveiled

British Actor Jeremy Irons Will Be the Jury President of Berlinale 2020

Amit Khanna: The Renaissance Man

Fantastic Friend




10 Achievements of Amit Khanna

Reflections on Amit Khanna

Valuable Moments

India Enchants John Bailey

The Big Bachchan of Bollywood


IFFI 50 & Fantastic-Lifetime Achievement Award to Isabelle Huppert





Infusing Life With Dubbing AT VR Films & Studios

Transforming Hollywood from pixels to voxels

Government of India committed to Safeguard IP content: Commerce Secretary

Must do Things at AFM

Why India Attracts Foreign Filmmakers

Architect of AMAZEMENT

Pickle at MIPCOM 2019


Super Audio: Licensed to Thrill

Jungle Book Season 3 Ready

Sailing well in Animation Waters

Issuance of VPL in India

Editor’s Note: 44th Toronto International Film Festival Pickle Sept 2019 Edition


Seven Indian Indie Filmmakers To Watch

Indian Cinema Of Today: A Culturally Responsive Artifact

Indie Resurgence

Indian Films At Toronto a Sparkling Quartet

A Call From Uttarakhand For Filmmakers Of The World

IFFI Matters @ 50

Four Indian Films at the Toronto International Film Festival 2019

India Pavilion at Toronto International Film Market 2019

Made in Afghan Film ‘Hava, Maryam, Ayesha’ To Compete at Venice Festival

Keerthy Suresh: The Mahanati of Mahanati. Best Actress, National Film Award

Uttarakhand Bags National Award for Most Film Friendly State

66th National Film Awards Winners for 2018

Watan Adds Colour to Indian Independence Day

dream hampton and Brie Miranda Bryant to Feature in MIPCOM’S Women in Global Entertainment Lunch 2019

Making a Song and Dance of it

NFDC Invites Applications for Production of Films in Indian Languages; Deadline September 8, 2019

IFFI Calls for Entry for Indian Panorama in 50th Edition

Ease of Filming in India

Come, Film In Inida

Why TikTok wants to invest $1 billion in India?

Priyanka Chopra’s The Sky is Pink Set to Premiere in 2019 Toronto Internaitonal Film Festival’s Gala Section

Gitanjali Rao’s Animation Feature Bombay Rose to open Critics’ Week at Venice International Film Festival

76th Venice International Film Festival to Open With Hirokazu Kore-eda’s ‘The Truth’

Indian Cinema’s Soft Power Misses the Mark in Nirmala Sitharaman’s Maiden Budget Speech

Shahid’s Kabir Singh Becomes Top-Grossing Film of 2019

Finance Minister Proposes FDI Norm Relaxation in Media

Media & Entrtainment as Champion Sector Figures in the Economic Survey 2018-19

Indian Cinema’s Steady Rise on Global Stage

Glimpses of the future

IFFI Marching Towards 50th Edition

India – Revolution Over The Top

Cannes or Netflix? Is Netflix an acceptable remediation for Cannes’ decades-long little regard for Indian Cinema?

Play Small & Live Long Did Wonders for Me

What to Look For at American Film Market 2018

Pickle Feb 2015 EFM Edition

Make a Move to Maharashtra

Porus is an Indian Story Told Globally

ESG Ready to expand Capabilities

Netflix Crime Drama: Precision is the Craft that is on Show in Soni


About Us

Contact Us

Connect With Us