What comes to your mind when you think of gruesome murders, bloodsheds, explicit scenes, abuses, and intimate encounters? Yes Over The Top (OTT) platform contents. But the fact is that they are selling like hot cake is because audiences are liking and applauding it. However, chances are that soon one could see or hear beep sounds during cuss words or chopping of sex scenes as now OTT and digital news content has been brought under I&B ministry and with that, the whole concept of “freedom of expression” might be closely monitored.
The government has brought films, audiovisuals, news, and current affairs content on online platforms under the domain of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Also, the content made available by online providers such as Netflix will come under the ministry, reports PTI.
The notification, signed by President Ram Nath Kovind, said the decision has been taken in exercise of the powers conferred by clause (3) of Article 77 of the Constitution, by amending the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961 and it will come into effect immediately.
Senior trade analyst Girish Johar says that “this is completely undoing because OTT had a so-called edge in terms of bypassing the so-called Government guidelines."
“In fact, I remember two-three years ago also, the Government gave them a suggestion that you should form a self-regulatory body and try to limit yourself but I think barring one or two OTT platforms, no one took that seriously. In the last few months, because of the pandemic, we have seen a huge supply of content and there are loads of violence, abuses, and sex. You need to think twice when you are watching with your family because you never know what’s going to come so I think that it’s a thing which OTT has called upon themselves and it's not a good thing,” Johar told Opoyi.
He is now waiting for Government guidelines on what are they thinking
“..because it depends on what and how they want to take it ahead. The other critical thing is that it is very difficult to monitor these kinds of contents because content gets uploaded from across the globe which is available in the country so I am looking forward to what mechanism the government is planning to take,” he said.
“ but yes in a way, there will be now so-called watchdog, which the government has set its eyes on. Some deterring news for OTT for sure,” he added.
Adeeb Rais, who made short films like “Auntyji” starring legendary Shabana Azmi and “Baatein” featuring veteran actress Supriya Pilgaonkar, says that digital space has given hope to many young talents and with this new move, both makers and audience will suffer.
“The digital space has generated many opportunities for filmmakers, storytellers to tell stories that could not be told earlier. It has opened the doors for brave filmmakers. Also, actors and artists have more opportunities to essay more complex characters. It is the only medium where artists can express themselves freely and the audience can witness pure unfiltered storytelling,” he told Opoyi.
“As content curators, it’s been our duty to be very responsible with this leeway and most of us have respected and not misused the freedom. Now, putting content through censorship will be like clipping the wings of brave and relevant stories that need to be told. The makers and audience both will be at a loss,” he added.
Tanuj Virwani, who got acclaim with his role as Vayu Raghavan in Emmy nominated television series “Inside Edge” on Amazon Prime Video, recently spoke to Opoyi where he said that OTT platforms have got power in today’s time.
“…OTT platforms, due to the whole self-censorship thing, get a lot of power, but with power comes responsibility! Hence, I hope that people don’t abuse this privilege. It's only a matter of time, if things slide off hands, soon OTT platforms would be censored similar to how the movies are. Sometimes we see a Hollywood film and it's so heavily edited in India, it is almost laughable. I just hope we don’t dig that grave for ourselves,” he told Opoyi.
For newcomers who are going to make their OTT debut, the move is going to be a welcome change.
“I think it's a great news and honestly feel there is no harm if the OTT platforms also get censorship. I have always felt that some content is way too much even on OTT. You cannot even think of watching a few shows with your family at all. I hope now that the OTT platforms are under the I&B Ministry, I hope they censor those things that are not all required,” Subuhii Joshii, who will be seen in OTT project 'Aapatkalin Baithak', told Opoyi.