In Conversation with Director Deepak Pandey: On EORTV, (the OTT platform aimed at the LGBTQ community) and more

Deepak Pandey is a renowned industry veteran and has been helming EORTV (the Premier Video on Demand, OTT media service platform with a differentiated philosophy to focus on the LGBTQ audiences and other communities) right from inception. He started his career as a cinematographer in the Indian television industry. He made his directorial debut with ‘I love US’ which was released on Footloose Youtube channel. He has also directed ‘Shaurya’ which aired on Sony LIV, The Bull of Dalal street, Halala, Paanchali, Singardaan, #metoo, Dance Bar, Tadap and many more for Ullu channel. He was awarded the best director award for the series, Halala. He plays a vital role in establishing the series and is known to experiment in his craft while exploring new technologies in the market.

We at MAM spoke to Deepak recently & given below is an excerpt from the conversation-

How does it feel to straddle multiple areas, television, OTT and cinema? How challenging is it?
It gets difficult sometimes if I’ll be very honest. To understand the psyche of the viewer is not easy. Writing stories around the LGBTQ community is more challenging. I always try to create emotional magic in my content. Currently my focus is to manage content for EORTV only and tell stories which will be loved by the audiences.

What do you enjoy more, cinematography or direction? Why?
I like this one and it’s difficult to pick. Cinematography was my first love and will always be. When I was into cinematography I was flowing through every frame of my life and told stories through my visuals. Now I tell the story through audio visual and this is my new found love. So I am having a good time and enjoying the process. Cinematography is like my strong base. It helps me in creating magic in my direction. Photography always deals with the technical aspects and direction always deals with human emotions. So it’s a perfect balance that I am trying to maintain and apply in the content I create. At the end of the day, I’m a storyteller, have always been one. I have done that through my lenses, by using best of my knowledge and creating the magical world as needed in the script. This journey through lenses further pushed me to become a director. To envisage the entire story and sharing it with my audience is what I feel made the transition. My years in cinematography helped me understand the medium better for the stories to unfold better. I cherish the great grounding that I have had.

Does your long experience as a cinematographer help you when you are directing a project? Could you elaborate on it?
Of Course yes, the journey begins when I go for the recce to finalise the location or have to communicate with the art director or deal with the dop. When I am building a set or a frame, two things come to my mind, how my cinematographer is going to create magic through the light and how is he going to create a source for it. In the meanwhile my other side of the brain thinks how my art director is going to pop up the set so I can create movement and direct my actors. These two battles always happen in my mind and because I have experience of being on sets for years now, it’s easier to support my team and make quick decisions.

How was the experience of working on Shaurya?
I
t was a great experience. I always wanted to tell the story about people who lived for others and died for the nation. It was an emotional journey while writing because I got into the depth of it while viewing the journey of these real heroes. This series has created a value of life towards the nation.

Tell us about the inception of EORTV, what led you & the team to come up with it, challenges faced etc.
I
 wanted to be a voice of reason in this second phase of my life. I have always wanted to do something to bring about some significant changes in society, and whenever I met people from the LGBTQ community,  I felt sorry for them. I always thought, why are they not studying, why can’t they become pilots ,why are they not doing larger than life things ,why are they not happy? And mainly why are they not getting accepted in society? That’s how I thought I would tell the stories and aim to create an awareness in the society.  The people in our community are one of us and are with us. We have to accept them. Talking about challenges, challenges are huge. Being a director, being a storyteller I have pitched the stories to all GECC and OTT platforms and nobody accepted them. That’s what led me to start our own independent OTT platform EORTV. EORTV is the first LGBTQ focused platform in our country.

What do you think about the present Indian OTT space & how do you visualize the same in the near future?
I feel the present Indian OTT platform has a huge market where they can gain a big audience if they tell good stories for the future. Whoever will say good and engaging stories will sustain.  The current streaming business is experiencing the golden era, due to the pandemic, people have become more informed about various streaming platforms and are happy to use it. Due to this directly or indirectly people’s views are broadening and they are accepting unusual content, even out of their comfort zone and have started liking and supporting the same. Social media is a big influence in this, as word of mouth through social media is playing a crucial part.

Could you share some of the future plans of EORTV?
EORTV will create a couple of franchises in the country. So we will meet with new talent and technicians. We want to expand our brain, get more hands and legs and minds to work together.  Through this journey we are going to motivate the youth and provide a platform to them.

Breaking News: Leading OTT Platforms to Offer a One-Month Free Subscription for Indian Audience, Move Aimed at Widening Subscription Base

By now we all know the importance of OTT/digital platforms and their impact upon our lives, the pandemic having the environment around us. With cinemas remaining closed for several months & with several issues plaguing the entertainment sector even today, it’s very unclear as to how things would turn out for the industry for the rest of 2021 as well. While the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has been in the news of late for the development of a ‘toolkit’ by 17 major OTT platforms, in line with the implementation of the self-regulation code that was introduced in 2020, now they have made a major announcement, all these 17 major OTT platforms will offer one month’s free subscription to Indian consumers.Continue reading “Breaking News: Leading OTT Platforms to Offer a One-Month Free Subscription for Indian Audience, Move Aimed at Widening Subscription Base”

V (2020) Telugu Movie Review: Bullets Misfired

In films from southern India, especially Tamil and Telugu industry, the film revolves around the lead actor. So whenever a film is announced without a title, the film is generally referred by the name of the lead actor and the forthcoming number of his (as per his filmography). Actors pay an important attention to milestone films likes their 25th or 50th  and so on. Continue reading “V (2020) Telugu Movie Review: Bullets Misfired”

Krishna and His Leela movie review: Love me Two!

Telugu, 2020

Cast:  Sidhu Jonnalegadda, Shradda Srinath, Shalini Vadnikatti, Seerat Kapoor , Jhansi and Sampath Raj

Directed by Ravikanth Perepu

Music by Sricharan Pakala

Streaming now on Netflix

 

Krishna and his Leela, the latest Telugu OTT offering, presented by Rana Daggubati,  is a breezy rom com that is a essentially an update on the age-old ‘one guy-two women’ staple . Though there is certainly no reinventing of the wheel here, director Ravikanth Perepu does put in a neat little job of giving some relatability and rootedness to the whole tricky subject.

Sidhu Jonnalegadda, who is also a co-writer on the film, is introduced in one of those typical cinematic ‘jilted lover boy’ fashions – with the trademark unshaven beard, pondering over life in some picturesque corners of the country. And knowing Telugu cinema, we may easily write offthe rest of the film as one suffering from the Arjun Reddy hangover. But breaking the fourth wall, Sidhu’s character Krishna assures us this could be lighter by asking us not to laugh at his emotional tales. And we pretty get the mood of the film from thereon.

Krishna does not waste time and gets to the heartbreak instantly. We are immediately told how his girlfriend Satya dumps him when she believes the relationship is not going anywhere. The breakup leaves Krishna completely broken, spending the rest of the days crying and sobbing away. It takes a few good time before he decides he is over all these girls and relationship dramas.

But Krishna cannot be kept away from his Leelas for long, and it is no surprise when he ends up immediately falling head over heels over a junior he meets at college, Radha.

As Radha claims, Krishna does not tick off any of her boyfriend material lists. But she still ends up liking the guy and Krishna would believe everything is finally smooth sailing in his love life.  However then comes the hurdle, with a job offering in Bangalore. Having to move out from Vizag, he assures an unsure Radha that they will get this long-distance working.

But things take an interesting turn when in Bangalore, where he runs into his ex-girlfriend Satya. If that is not spice enough, add an attractive roommate (Seerat Kapoor) to the mix. And you know you are getting a perfect recipe for trouble in Sidhu’s paradise.  The rest of the film has Sidhu trying to figure out the Dos and Donts of relationships. The only question is will it be too late by the time he does the figuring out.

KrishnaLeela02

The biggest strength of the movie undoubtedly lies in its restrained writing. At several instances, there is an opportunity to go too melodramatic or score some each cheap laughs, except for a few initial portions involving Viva Harsha. But the writing holds back and avoids falling into the usual easy trappings of Telegu commercial cinema. The characters are certainly well written, especially the women and therefore keeps the proceedings refreshingly relatable and real.

Performances also immensely helps here. After all, it is vital that the audience needs to develop a rooting interest in the characters for this set up to work. And to the credit of the writing team and the trio of Sidhu, Shradda and Shalini, the manage to nail that factor.Even the fourth wall breaking which may seem gimmicky at first, works well in opening  frank one way conversation between the audience and the main character.

Lead man Sidhu masterfully steers his complicated character convincingly through the whole messy deal. Shradda as usual impresses effortlessly, while Shalini Vadnikatti though good, finds herself a little short when it comes to the emotionally heavy sequences.  Seerat Kapoor chips in just fine with Rukhsar, a very interestingly written character that in my opinion, deserved a little more space and voice in the screenplay. Sampath and Jhansi plays the roles of Sidhu’s parents in graceful, convincing manner, with a delicately written scene showing their dynamics in a mature, no-frills manner. It was also an appreciable gesture of having the dubbing artists names alongside the actresses in the title credits.

KrishnaLeela03

The movie just about loses steam even with its mere 120-minute mark as the screenplay goes back and forth between the Leelas of this Krishna’s life, constantly shuffling between Vizag and Bangalore with a little Coorg detour. But Ravikanth keeps things light and constantly moving. And though the performance manages to sell the lead character’s predicament, the final speech disappointingly falls flat sticking out like a weak excuse. And also time writers realise that this lazy act of transforming their characters into overnight authors is getting a little too stale.

But these are minor quibbles in what is essentially a welcome addition to an otherwise ‘done-to-death’ romcom formula. Refreshing and sure-footed, it is worth spending a couple of hours checking out Krishna and his Leela, for an easy OTT watch.

– Joxily John

Cinemas vs OTT Platforms: The Paradigm Shift in Viewership and Film Exhibition

Just as the human species had spent many millennia of living with an exaggerated sense of self- importance, there came into existence a microbe which brought businesses across the world to a standstill and caused all human beings to be sequestered in their own homes. While some people felt caged, a few others found this to be the long awaited sabbatical that they had been yearning for and a break that they could utilize to strengthen the bond with their family members, re-kindle the long lost romance, try their hand at a new hobby or develop a new habit. Continue reading “Cinemas vs OTT Platforms: The Paradigm Shift in Viewership and Film Exhibition”