Digital platform an addition, not alternative to theatres: Ronnie Screwvala

Ronnie Screwvala (Photo: Wikipedia)
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By Arundhuti Banerjee

Mumbai– Entrepreneur and film producer Ronnie Screwvala, excited about his new film “Love Per Square Foot” releasing on Valentine’s Day on a digital platform, says the growth of the platform is not an alternative option, but an addition to new age entertainment. He is confident that both can co-exist.

“Love Per Square Foot” is the first film of Screwvala’s RSVP Productions. The Netflix Original film marks the directorial debut of Anand Tiwari and features Vicky Kaushal and Angira Dhar.

Ronnie Screwvala (Photo: Wikipedia)

Having produced films like “Rang De Basanti”, “The Namesake”, “Jodhaa Akbar”, “Aamir”, “Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!”, “Udaan”, “7 Khoon Maaf” and “Chennai Express” in the past, what made him release his first home production on Netflix rather than going for a traditional release in theatres?

“Well, it was not a premeditated thought actually. But things happened, we met people and everything panned out in this way. Netflix watched the film and really liked it. They thought that the film should be released worldwide… We thought let’s try,” Screwvala told IANS in an interview.

Is there a possibility than in the future theatrical release will be taken over by digital release for films?

“I think the number of films watched in theatres has changed from earlier days. Now because of our busy lives, we tend to watch films on the move — when stuck in traffic, while sitting at the airport or while travelling. That is how earlier, if people used to go to 20 movies in a year to the theatre, now the number has changed to 10. How are they catching up with the rest of the films? On the digital platforms.

“Having said that, I think digital is not an alternative to a theatre. This platform is an addition, and both can co-exist,” he added.

Emphasizing on the ordeal that several films face in making it to the theatres, Screwvala said: “Look at the number of films that are not being released in India… It is very high. There are films that do not get commissioned to release, at times due to the expenses. So, the new addition of digital platforms is all the more reason to celebrate.”

Asked if that is one of the reasons Hindi cinegoers are experiencing a huge variety of subjects in cinema, the National Award winning producer said: “Yes, it is a blessing for creative people that a large number of people are subscribing to digital platforms like Netflix and others.

“If we know that theatrical release is the only way to share a story to the large audience, it would limit filmmakers. That is why I believe a lot of changes are happening, we are experimenting with subjects that have not been explored before, subjects that are interesting and quirky.”

In 20 years of his career as a film producer, Screwvala not only attempted to bring change in Indian cinema by capturing the transition of the society in the 21st century, but also impacted many young minds.

He said: “I think overall storytelling and movie-making is a high impact industry. In films, we are actually telling stories that create an impact in people’s mind and give lifelong memories. For example, when we recently visited army officers of special force and seven of them said that they joined Indian Army after watching ‘Lakshya’, they got the inspiration from there… a seed of thought. A film does that to our audience.” (IANS)


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