Cinema in the World of OTT and the Ethics of Visual Representation in a Fictional World

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Rahul Mahajan, Santosh Kumar Gautam


Research has revealed that during the Corona Pandemic almost a thousand single screen theatres shut down for good in India. Meanwhile, a huge surge was seen in the viewership of OTT platforms. Producers who could not release their films in theatres sold their films to OTTs instead; and this trend has continued even in the post-pandemic environ. It is believed that this growth in the popularity of streaming platforms is facilitated by the bolder content that OTTs offer, raising several ethical dilemmas for both viewers and the government over censorship issues. A survey conducted by this researcher amongst more than 350 young students across Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh revealed that 47.5% of the respondents (311) go only once a year to watch a film in a cinema hall, while 14.3% do not go to a film theatre at all. On the other hand, among the same set of respondents, 13.2% watch a film every day, 38.5% watch every week and 40.8% every month on an OTT platform. 51.3% of the youth who responded to the survey also revealed that the explicit scenes of nudity and violence in OTT content, does not bother them. There is however also the view shared with this researcher by Jyotsana Garg, an advisory panel member of the Central Board of Film Certification, who says that the present guidelines enacted to regulate OTTs in India are not adequate; as the foul language, nudity and violence in OTT content will negatively impact the youth, and there is a need for greater censorship. The moral compass is obviously divergent between the youth and policy makers. In conclusion, there are contrary ethical standards and many dilemmas surrounding visual representations in the fictional world of cinema and OTT, especially with OTTs showcasing bolder content and threatening the very survival of cinema halls.

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