In an attempt to bring short film format closer to the audience, Marathi movie channel Zee Talkies launched ‘Talkies Lighthouse’ on January 10, which will air around 50 handpicked short films across 10 episodes. Each episode will feature four short films and will be hosted by well-known television and theatre actor Lalit Prabhakar.
According to Bavesh Janavlekar, Senior Vice-President, Zee Talkies, the audience in Maharashtra is ready for this format. He says “In the last three years we saw a variety of genres in Marathi cinema. From masterpieces like Court, Dr. Prakash Amte, Qilla to the huge hit Lai Bhaari by Riteish Deshmukh, the audience has given positive response to a host of genres.”
Also the timing is right for this kind of content with short films like Ahalya taking the digital world by storm. Janavlekar is not convinced about the market of short film industry and is quick to point out that it’s not a commercially-driven initiative. “Talkies Lighthouse which took six months to roll out is driven by the idea to give these filmmakers an opportunity to showcase their talent. If you are equating market with short films getting released at the box office, I don’t see that happening much. I don’t think people will go to theatres to watch it. But, I do think these stories can be consumed at a mass level and television is the easiest medium whereas digital is limited to certain audiences and geographies,” he says.
Targeted at youth, these short films revolve around rural issues, women issues, superstitions, beliefs and aspirations. With the exception of seven films, all the other short films are in Marathi. Zee Talkies plans to take this initiative to the next level by making it a yearly property. “Post the show we have a large contest which will invite entries from students and budding filmmakers followed by a three-day film festival in March. It’s more of a branding and content initiative to offer Marathi cinema a global platform,” says Janavlekar.
The new initiative will cost the channel nearly crore rupees and brands by Procter & Gamble like Gillette, Olay, Pantene and Whisper will be the main sponsors. “Commercially it’s not really going to be viewership driven. It will build up slowly in terms of the audiences accepting the format since there are no stars,” he confesses.