Eid is the biggest religious festival celebrated in Bangladesh. While it is knocking at the door, no special excitement surrounds the entertainment world this time. Although there are about a hundred new productions that were shot before the pandemic, it is all that the television channels have to offer to the audience. At the same time, most channels and OTT platforms are re-running their old projects to keep up with the week-long festivity trends.
Unfortunately, in this race, the film industry has nothing new to offer. "Honestly, it is an irrecoverable loss for the film industry," says noted filmmaker Giasuddin Selim. "2020 was supposed to be a flourishing period for the film industry. Directors like Mostofa Sarwar Farooki, Dipankar Dipon, and Mejbaur Rahman Sumon, among others, had something great up their sleeves. However, movie-goers need to wait a bit longer to get their fix."
Subscriptions of streaming platforms have doubled in this isolation period. People are engaging with alternative media, as these mediums have quite a huge bulk to offer. Yet, local online streaming sites such as Robi TV Plus, BongoBD, Bioscope, need to invest more to compete with international platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, iflix and Hoichoi. "Around the world, film industries are looking forward to releasing films in web platforms," shares prominent maker Dipankar Dipon. He commented that people are mainly subscribing to international streaming platforms, which will not be beneficiary for the local industry. "The budgets for international web content are higher than any of our commercial films. Interestingly, international streaming sites are investing in such projects. "The sooner we get ourselves accustomed with local web platforms as the media of releasing films, the better it will be for the film industry. In a post-coronavirus world, it will be challenging for films to be released in theatres," shares Dipankar.
Local platforms are not yet prepared to release latest movies in the streaming site. Budget is the primary barrier in this case. "Due to the pandemic, around 12 movies, including some big budget projects in India are being released in online streaming platforms, which were supposed to be commercially released in cinemas," states celebrated television director Ashfaque Nipun. "In the age of technological advancements, patterns develop very quickly. I am worried that when the halted productions finally release after the pandemic ends, they may already feel outdated." According to Nipun, in the last thirty years, the creative sector has been neglected by ruling governments. "The government provides a grant, but they never verify if the movie is properly promoted. The cinema theatres are closing down, but there is no committee to evaluate the reasons behind the closures. In these critical times, the government has no proper plan for the creative industry," Nipun stresses.
The overall consumption of internet and media has increased, as people have more free time on their hands. From playing games online to streaming music to participating in live talk shows on social media, people are spending more time with virtual screens. Under such circumstances, it will be difficult for the film industry to bring audiences back to cinema theatres, even after this ordeal ends, as single-screen theatres are already running out of fashion. Compared to other visual media, it is likely that the film industry will suffer the most.