The OTT trend – Is mainstream cinema ready for multiple directors?

The latest phenomenon taking over the Indian film industry is the collaboration of multiple directors on a single project, bringing in their uniqueness, creativity, and style. 

Anurag Singh Bohra | New Delhi

With the advent of over The Top (OTT) platforms, the cinema has taken a turn for the best in India. From engaging plots to mind-boggling acting to the crisper narrative, all has changed in the last few years as OTT provides the freedom to explore and experiment to filmmakers. The latest phenomenon taking over the Indian film industry is the collaboration of multiple directors on a single project, bringing in their uniqueness, creativity, and style. 

While the 2020 OTT releases Paatal Lok, Betaal and Special Ops had director duos. Lara Dutta’s digital debut ‘Hundred’ had multiple directors. Mirzapur (2018) and Made in Heaven (2019) had director duos and multiple co-directors as well. This is a shift from the traditional directorial responsibility handled by a single individual. Trade analysts Joginder Tuteja and Amul Mohan give their views on the trend and its scope in mainstream cinema.

Multiple episodes call for multiple directors

Apart from Abbas – Mastaan and Raj and DK we don’t have two directors working in mainstream cinema. On being asked if it could be a new trend in mainstream movies as well, trade analyst Joginder Tuteja says, “In mainstream cinema, there has mostly been one director. Having two or more directors is not just the case with web series but TV serials as well because one has to shoot too many episodes.” 

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He further adds, “In web series also there are 8 – 10 episodes, so shooting with two different directors saves a lot of time. That’s where the concept of show creators has come. Like Sudip Sen is the show creator of Paatal Lok. So there is a person who’s the brain behind the show and then there are people who execute. So, having two different people directing a series is not a new phenomenon.” Tuteja feels when it comes to films there is not much requirement of more than one director in a two or two and a half hour movie. 

According to Tuteja, “In films, there is a second unit director as well. As far as sharing credits in a movie, I don’t see that happening. A movie is for a unified period and there you clearly don’t have the co–director’s concept unless there’s an exception.” Trade analyst Amul Mohan also agrees as he says, “Films and web series are a different medium. A web series is large. So, there are two or multiple directors. In films, there is just one person accept for exceptional cases like Abbas – Mastan or Raj & DK.

Opportunity for young filmmakers

Since there are two to three directors in a web series, there is scope for better work opportunities for young filmmakers. Tuteja states, “That is possible even without the co-directors concept as there are so many OTT platforms coming up paving the way for new content. Therefore, there are ample opportunities for talented people because of the new medium.” Mohan however points out, “There’s always scope for a new director. Like Vikramaditya Motwane co-directed Sacred Games Season 1. When Motwane left, Neeraj Ghaywan stepped in to direct season 2 with Anurag Kashyap.”

Creative differences

On being questioned whether avoiding creative differences might also be the reason to have a single director in mainstream cinema, Tuteja agrees. He says, “That’s why movies have a single director. In order to avoid creative differences, it’s better to have one person and go by his or her vision. Also, movies are made on a different scale so you cannot possibly afford to have multiple directors.” 

Mohan although reasons that films and web series being different mediums there is lesser scope for directors duos or multiple directors in movies.

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