Anirban Dutta’s debut film ‘Jahnabi’ deals with the similarities between a river and a woman - how both go through the different phases and emotions in life and how they both overcome the hurdles to sincerely fulfil the responsibilities of being a mother. Again, Chandan Sen’s film Mayadweep (An Island of Illusion) is another enthralling socio-political commentary on humanity. The dynamics of queer relationship are aptly explored by Mujeer Pasha in the short film ‘Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh’. Prateek Prajosh in the documentary ‘Mrs Nambiar: More Than ‘Just’ A Teacher’ examines the life of its national award-winning protagonist. Despite being critically acclaimed in various award ceremonies, independent films like these that offer a fascinating depiction of humanity often struggle to find a platform for general viewership. The recent launch of Cinemapreneur, founded by Rupinder Kaur and Gaurav Raturi provides that platform for indie filmmakers.
Rupinder Kaur, co-founder, Cinemapreneur, told BE, “Theatrical release is an uphill task for all indie filmmakers. They do not have the P&A budgets to plan a theatrical release. Even if they do, it’s a limited one and they would never get the best shows and slots due to clash with mainstream titles bringing more audiences and having star power. Right now, we feel that the indie segment doesn’t consider theatrical as their best option. Their best chance is the festival submissions and an OTT acquisition at the most.”
Cinemapreneur is a pay-per-view transactional video-streaming platform for independent films. It has been launched recently with 25 films that include films in different regional languages of India, as well as the above-mentioned films. Instead of the subscription-only mode for the popular OTT platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ Hotstar and others, in case of Cinemapreneur one just has to pay per film.
Soumendu Bhattacherya, Head of the Department, Director, Roopkala Kendro and a practising filmmaker, told BE, “Good and different kinds of entertainment needs to be shared continuously at a low price to fight ‘mainstream cinema’. This ‘finer’ choices need to be addressed with affordable and practical pricing so that it topples down to the masses.”
Bhattacherya further added that the public has to be shown good national and international cinema continuously and these programmes should be advertised through different media and social media platforms. Cinemapreneur offers feature films at `149, feature documentaries at `99, 60-minute documentaries at `79, and short films at `49. This payment mode for individual content can be profitable for the platform and economical for the viewers as well. Popular OTT platforms often lose out several subscribers because of the all-or-nothing choice.
Cinemapreneur also aims at providing a financial avenue for the films. Kaur stated, “We feel that we are creating another way to release a film and using a limited budget and marketing they can really plan it well along with us. If a filmmaker pushes the content along with the initial buzz they can do really well and can recover a substantial proportion of the film. This is where the power of the platform is - to give filmmakers a discovery option along with monetisation.”
She also added that after six to nine months they would create avenues to fund independent films. They are also exploring the option to produce films under the platform but that will be only possible if the winds look promising. The initial reception of the platform has not been disappointing. Almost 10,000 cinephiles explored the catalogue within a week. The platform intends to bring around 5-10 lakh viewers over next 8-12 months and 300 titles by the end of this year.
Independent cinema can only be sustainable and grow if there are ways to monetise and distribute the films. Since most films after the festival journey do not land at a platform they are not discovered. Cinemapreneur will definitely create an avenue where the films will be available for long. If this genre of cinema is not promoted then budding, talented and risk-taking filmmakers will never emerge and the general audience of the country will not learn to appreciate sophisticated cinema.