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Disruption can be good for change: Abhay Deol on streaming boom

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Mumbai, 30 May, 2019: Abhay Deol, who is venturing into streaming space with the Netflix release of his film “Chopsticks”, says the new technology is disruptive and will bring fundamental changes to viewing experience.

The actor, known for his critically-acclaimed performances in films such as “Dev D”, “Manorama Six Feet Under” and “Shanghai”, says he has been following the evolution of streaming for a while now. 

“Chopsticks”, also starring Mithila Palkar, releases on Netflix on May 31. 

“Ever since Netflix hit the scene, I was like when will they come here? Clearly, we need them for our evolution. And having seen what Netflix has done abroad and knowing where technology is going, I knew it is bound to be destructive. Disruption can be very good for change,” Deol told PTI in an interview.

Digital boom, according to him, does not automatically mean that big screens are going to go away.

“Something that is action-oriented and large on production value, definitely you will like to see it on the big screen because it is a large scale movie. As a creative person, there is always a certain romanticism in watching your film release on the big screen. I don’t think it will ever go away,” he said.

“In the West, all the good drama moved to TV and only superhero films are released (in theatres) because theatres have become about spectacles and extravagant locales. 

“Something like ‘Chopsticks’ feels fine on the big TV. It is bittersweet thing, there are some things that you get here (on streaming platforms) and something that you don’t get. The biggest plus point (about digital release) is that the content is pure and it is told from the perspective of the filmmaker rather than from the perspective of the studio,” he added. 

Deol said he was one of the firsts to realise the potential of multiplexes as that is where his middle-of-the-road films were working while single screens catered to commercial entertainers.

“I experienced a new platform and its impact when I was making my films back in my early years of my career. When the multiplex was coming up, how do you think ‘Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!’ or ‘Manorama Six Feet Under’ or ‘Ek Chaalis Ki Last Local’ or ‘Dev D’ released. (They released) because of the multiplex coming up. Before that, single screens were there and they would not have released (those films).” 

The bone of contention in some quarters is the lack of censorship in digital space and there are talks to regulate the space but Deol believes censoring isn’t a solution. 

The actor said the audience should be the one to judge what they want to watch or not.

“You want to protect people from sex and violence but they are going to get that anyway from the Internet. So might as well allow artistes and OTT platforms to work on controversial and provocative subjects. They should be able to have a nuanced dialogue through their writing and filming. Let the public be the deciding factor.” 

In “Chopsticks”, Deol plays the role of a conman named Artist. Earlier, the actor played a conman in “Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!”. 

Drawing differences between the two characters, he said, “If Lucky was a lower class boy from Delhi, then Artist is a middle class urban guy from Mumbai. 

“He is educated while Lucky wasn’t. Lucky is ambitious and there is a certain bitterness in him that he wasn’t given the same amount of opportunities in life while Artist creates his own opportunities and for him stealing is an art and everything he does is out of passion or creativity.” 

The film, directed by Sachin Yardi, also stars Vijay Raaz

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