Ghost Stories is the third in a franchise series that started in 2013 when Bombay Talkies featuring the Fab Four Filmmakers Karan Johar, Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Banerjee and Anurag Kashyap who were all at their brilliant best. Bombay Talkies featured big-screen stars like Rani Mukerji, Katrina Kaif and Amitabh Bachchan as it was created for and released on the big screen in movie theatres. Lust Stories released in 2018 with the same quartet of directors doing one story each , was a different kettle of fish. It was designed for the OTT platform and featured no big-screen stars. Bhumi Pednekar who played the lead in Zoya Akhtar’s story was relatively unknown when she appeared in Lust Stories.
In India actors who are in-demand in cinema normally shy away from the OTT platform. So what’s the up and coming Janhvi Kapoor doing in the series’ third segment Ghost Stories alongside OTT regulars like Shobita Dhulipala? Apparently she got lured by the temptation of being directed by Zoya Akhtar. But it’s one thing for Alia Bhatt to be directed by Zoya in Gully Boy. For Janhvi Kapoor who has a massive movie star fan-following to be put on mobile phones and computer screens is not cool. No wonder critics have remarked on how lost she looks in the company of actors who know understand and relate to the digital medium.
A major filmmaker who wishes to remain unnamed says putting Janhvi in a web series is doing her disservice. “She is not Radhika Apte. Doing a web series at this stage in her career is damaging to Janhvi’s brand equity. After her debut in Dhadak, fans want to see her on the big screen , and they will do so in Kargil Girl and Roohi Afza. In both big-screen projects she plays the title role. What was the need to put her in a web series right after her first release?”
Just how much the OTT platform damages a film star’s big-screen equity was proven earlier this year when right after doing Sacred Games on OTT Saif Ali Khan’s Lal Kaptaan did not get an audience in movie theatres. Let’s hope Janhvi’s stardom survives the minuscule appearance in Ghost Stories.
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