With GST, will film-makers finally take the plunge to web series?

03 . Aug . 2017
Reading Time: 2 minutes

What’s common for Farhan Akthar, Karan Arjun, Richa Chadha, Vivek Oberoi, Tarun Virwani, Ram Gopal Varma, Flora Saini? Well, the first thing that comes to mind is that they are paying more attention to the world of web series and short films. Farhan Akthar’s Inside Edge is one of the first multistarrer web series. Karan Anshuman says that he is open for web series. Ram Gopal Varma is making his web series and short films outings intermittently. With such talented people coming in, it’s time to question why they are doing this.

If TV killed the radio star, then multiplexes killed the single screens. And if that’s true, the streaming scene is definitely suffocating multiplexes. For the common person, with GST, the cost of a film ticket will include 51 percent of GST tax. Films are still a social thing in India still. The total tax that’s going out is anything between 100 percent and 200 percent tax – for two or four tickets.   That is a matter of grave concern.

Further,  the paying public is embracing the streaming scenes because of the intimacy it offers. If a particular member of the family doesn’t want to watch a particular series – no problem – there’s always a laptop or a 10 inch tablet on which others can watch it.  Not so with films. It’s all or none. Add to this the aspect of paying an overpriced ticket for someone who doesn’t want to watch a particular film –  doesn’t make financial sense, does it?

The intimacy of viewing was what actually made piracy such a big thing. Yes, there were people who were technically stealing content from makers. But there were also people who downloaded torrents because the series they liked weren’t available in the Indian market. With so many platforms coming up, the Indian audience has the biggest inventory today. An entire generation is waking up to such stunning foreign and local content on their smart phones, on their smart tvs and tabs.

The money factor and the fact that audiences are inherently lazy, might just be the reason that even the older brands are trying their hands at the streaming platforms. They no longer need to kowtow to distributors, they no longer needs to talk to channel heads, – all that is a thing of the past.

The same goes for actors. Legend has it that a particular kind of actor fits the big screen. But when it’s a story back short film, the script is the superstar and even the protagonist is just a character. This is what seduces actors to make their way to the streaming screen instead of the big screen.

GST might be the one word – or three word – answer to why the mainstream film industry should buckle up. They no longer have the respite of ‘we make good films too’ to counter this.  They either need to make the best quality of films ever, or shut down shop.