The Pandemic Promotes Pictures, Siddarth points the camera to the film industry

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The cine-literate at one point ensured that OTT platforms presented thought-provoking content that challenged or reflected the status quo. The paradigm sadly has shifted once again to cater to the larger casual audience. Holding onto the goal of turning back the wheel, his movies bear both his passionate heart and business acumen.

With over 18 years of teaching experience in the field of TV and film, he has directed two independent feature films and over 20 TV shows. Currently Vice President films for Saregama, he has the mandate to produce compelling story-led feature films for theatrical and digital audiences in India and worldwide. Yoodlee films, as the venture is known, has quickly become a focal point for Indian independent cinema having produced over 10 films in the last 15 months since it’s inception.

Siddarth Anand stresses that awareness of the target market and competition is key to ensuring the survivability of your business. Whether it’s the shift from ‘Gramophone Company of India’ to ‘Saregama’ to pay homage to our history. Or the focus on establishing a production house rather than just a music label to ensure the tyranny of torrents and small attention spans vanishes.

From the limit of 30 people on the set to the last-minute shooting permit denials, the circus during the pandemic still bears some fruits of nurture. This phase has witnessed a rise in demand for entertainment and a surge of scripts floating in the market. However, fret not, as Siddarth enlightens us on the three factors their employees evaluate when picking 20 scripts from 3000.  Easy categorization of the movie into a genre, the compressibility of the plot to a single line and the uniqueness of the plot.

While scripts are ubiquitous there is a dearth of confidence to come out and shoot. Directors of Photography failing to show up, actresses cancelling 2 days before the deadline and infection during post-production are just a few of the struggles presented by Siddarth. We also must note the added costs of sanitization and ensuring personal bubbles. Although it may seem like all hope is lost Yoodlee continues to push forward with their eyes on the lottery.

The Q and A session served to widen our lenses and shed light on some saddening realities. When asked about the prominence of Indie film, he quite bluntly exclaimed that the Indie film industry is dead! Due to the monopoly of OTT platforms and scarcity of other options, even nominations for international film festivals provides no edge in monetization.

Coming to the caste of the cast. Siddarth once again laid it out quite obviously. Viewers tend to opt for familiar famous faces when choosing their shows, hence the existence of a hierarchy is inevitable when an industry matures.

In response to another question about the representation of North-Eastern stories in movies, he affirmed that although there has been a lack of representation; the burden of encapsulating the essence of their culture cannot be carried by ‘Axone’ that simply functions to highlight our innate prejudice and racism.

On the final note about how important a producer can be, he shared a beautiful analogy

“It’s a little spark that you discover, you put your hands around to protect it and then, try to create a fire”

 This fire can be one of enlightenment that we see in some of Yoodlee’s films that try lay out the reality of emotions pertaining to atrocities against women. This flame can function as a rebellious artful commentary on the government like the kinds we witness in Iran or a reflection of our society brought out in a scene when a Hindu retracts a plate under the assumption that the girl is Muslim because her first name is Zoya.

“When you’re young, you have the most freedom to freely express yourselves, so make rebellious, wild and gimmicky films.”

Find your voice and by that he meant, figure out what you want to say and shout it out loud fellow Symbians.

Aryan Krishnan
Batch of 2023