Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Subhash Ghai: OTT Shouldn’t Be Limited To Sex And Violence, It Should Also Show Family Issues

Veteran filmmaker Subhash Ghai feels that the new-age OTT platforms are filled with sex and violence and it’s time that family shows are also made for the web.

Subhash Ghai: OTT Shouldn’t Be Limited To Sex And Violence, It Should Also Show Family Issues
Subhash Ghai Instagram

Veteran filmmaker Subhash Ghai is all set to make a comeback to films with '36 Farmhouse'. He has been away from films for quite a long time and is directly jumping into the world of OTT. In a candid chat with Outlook, Ghai speaks up about why he has been away, what’s keeping him busy, what is his opinion of the new-age OTT platforms, and what is his criteria to say yes to produce a script. Excerpts from the chat:

Why do we see you making films so less nowadays?

It is because I have been doing many better things. In these 40 years, I produced 42 films, out of which 35 films were hit. I directed 19 films, out of which 14 were hit but then I started creating new filmmakers. My whole focus was on how to share my money, knowledge, and experience with young talented people. In 2006, I opened Whistling Woods and since then we have produced many talented directors, producers, and actors for the industry. So, I am very satisfied with my job. Mentorship is a huge responsibility but other than this I also write stories, songs and I also make short films.

'36 Farmhouse' is your entry into the world of OTT. How do you see this new digital medium? Is it a boon for cinema or do you feel it's eating into the theatre business?

It is the extension of the entertainment world on the screen. Cinemas have been there for the last 100 years or more, then came the television, videos and many more things like that. Now OTT has been introduced. I feel things will keep on evolving. Maybe after a few years, we will also have the facility to watch a movie on a watch, but then what you are watching and how interesting it depends on the quality of the content. I feel that we have to keep on improving the quality of the content leaving aside the medium of watching it. Even if there are many pros and cons of each medium, the quality of the content has to be always kept in mind. There are intervals in the cinema hall, whereas there are no intervals on OTT, it completely depends on the viewer. The youngsters form the maximum percentage of OTT viewers, but after ‘36 Farmhouse’ I hope even the elder members of the family start using the OTT platforms. OTT should not be limited only to sex and violence, it should also show family issues and problems and things that every family faces in their day-to-day lives. This will enable the elder members of the family to start watching shows on OTT platforms.

Do you think OTT is filled up with sex and violence?

The OTT platforms came into the scene in the last 2-2.5 years. All the actors, writers, and directors who maybe did not get a chance to work on the mainstream got a space to show their content. So, the OTT platforms ended up becoming a godown of content; they kept on dumping everyone’s content. It became a business model. However, after a certain point, even the youth gets tired of watching the same kind of content and that was the main reason why I entered now and thought of making a family entertainment show called '36 Farmhouse' which has the flavour of all the spices that a family has. It has humour, entertainment, songs, comedy, and many more things.

From the time you directed films to now the times of OTT, has there been a change in filmmaking? Is there more freedom to tell your story on OTT?

If you want to get to know the desire of a certain boy, he will wish that he could walk naked on the streets but we cannot permit him to do that. Similarly, censorship is important to an extent because the society in which we live has its own code of conduct and ethics that have to be followed and that is why censorship has been formed. The censorship makers may be wrong or right and can be changed but the ethics of censorship are absolutely correct. Without censorship, the films will be filled with violence.

Why didn’t you decide to direct '36 Farmhouse'? Why did you pick Ram Ramesh Sharma to direct this story of yours?

It will then be like, I am the coach and I ask the runner to move aside and decide to run myself. I want to engage the younger minds and make them do it the way they want to. My whole team is from Whistling Woods and they are all young minds. I am always there to encourage them, supervise them and guide them but nothing more than that. That is my job.

When you’re producing a film, what are those tickboxes that must be there in a script for you to say yes?

Everything has its own value and grammar. Each story has its own grammar without which it will have no value. Even a story like Mahabharata has its own grammar. So, I feel that the grammar of a story is very important.

You've worked with so many big music directors. Ismail Darbar, AR Rahman, etc. Why did you ditch them all and give the music of '36 Farmhouse' yourself?

I actually think of it in a different way. I thought that if I can make it myself then why should I not do it. I didn’t try and snatch away someone’s chance of doing it. I was sitting home idle, I had free time so I thought of doing it myself. I was writing poetry when I thought about writing two of the songs and seeing how it comes out.  After I was done writing, I called my music students and then started doing the work on the computer itself. Then we contacted professionals like Sonu Nigam and offered them to sing the songs if they like them. So, it was a natural process, and no thought of taking away someone else’s opportunity to make the songs.