Akshay Bardapurkar is best known for his work as a path-breaking filmmaker and has been a torch-bearer of Marathi talent in the industry. He has always encouraged fresh talent, passionate filmmakers, and disruptive thinking in the Marathi entertainment industry. As the multiplexes are forced shut due to COVID-19 impact, many filmmakers across Bollywood and Hollywood too, are moving towards digital releases rather than holding the film’s release for the cinema halls. While Hindi and English films enjoy enormous production and marketing budgets, Marathi filmmakers struggle to stay afloat in these trying times. The government subsidies are also not a solace anymore. A film becomes eligible for government subsidy only after it is screened in the cinema halls for the specified duration. Marathi filmmakers are now in a tough spot due to the lack of financial support from the government in addition to the existing challenges.
This current reality is unfortunate for the Marathi film ecosystem and producer Akshay Bardapurkar fears the current situation may demotivate regional filmmakers to create quality content. In his experience, even his latest release AB Aani CD, that marked the debut of Bollywood’s legend Amitabh Bachchan in Marathi entertainment, suffered from lower margins and impact despite being a perfect blockbuster recipe. Akshay Bardapurkar is yet again stepping forward to salvage the situation for fellow filmmakers. He has approached the CM of Maharashtra Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray and the Minister for Medical Education, and Culture of Maharashtra, Amit Deshmukh to support Marathi filmmakers.
Akshay has requested the State in a personal letter seeking a remedy. He appeals, the digital releases of Marathi films should be treated equivalent to their theatrical releases and Marathi filmmakers should be allowed to avail subsidies irrespective of the medium. This step taken by Akshay is a ray of hope for the industry as it will help Marathi producers to leverage the government support and offer more entertaining content to the audiences without compromising the quality of production. This initiative will help the entire ecosystem of Marathi entertainment to thrive.
Akshay Bardapurkar stands in solidarity with his fellow Marathi filmmakers in battling this crisis. He says, “Marathi films are already struggling with cut-throat competition from Hindi and International films in availing theatres, distribution, audience support, and budgets. The pandemic has made matters worse. Producers are grappling with the current market realities and barely managing to remain operational. In such times, what Marathi filmmakers need is strong financial backing? Government support in the form of subsidy is needed now more than ever and I can’t stress enough on this point. The current norm says, only theatrical releases that are screened for a specific duration can avail subsidies from the state. It is our earnest request that digital releases should also be allowed a leeway given the current circumstances as theatrical release isn’t an option anymore!”
Recently announced by Akshay Bardapurkar, Pushkar Shrotri and Aditya Oak’s Planet Marathi OTT platform too is symbiotic to theatrical releases in a digital medium. The OTT will soon be launching the pay-per-view format where Marathi audiences can purchase an e-ticket to view the new releases in a one-time watch, thus, recreating a theatre-like Friday blockbuster release for Marathi films. Now Akshay’s requests to the State for allowing subsidization even in digital releases for Marathi films just adds more strength to the zeal of Marathi filmmakers.
I hope and trust Udhav and Amit take note of Akshay’s suggestions and lets Marathi films also breathe today, at a time when every film, whether it is Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam or Kannada, gets only a release outlet on OTT platforms and ironically no Marathi film has found a direct to digital release till date ever since the lockdown was announced, and only films like Bonus and Pravas have managed to get a release on an OTT platform like Amazon Prime Video