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The primitive technology of chalk and stone against rock walls gave us insights of how the ‘cave-man lived'. Earth colours were developed and set against papyrus to create the first stories told on paintings. The Gutenberg Press brought in the concept of limiting stories to publishable forms. The ‘three-act structure' (introduction, separation and reunion) came into being. Silver Halide film and projection technologies gave us the beginnings of film as art. Transmission technologies gave us television.
Each technology and delivery mechanism flowered when it discovered the balance between commerce, delivery technology and the urge to create art.
We make two-hour films not because that is the ideal time for the art form, but because the commercial exploitation system needs three shows a day to be profitable. Intervals in India survive because the need to sell popcorn outweighs the artistic need to hold the film together as one whole.
|THE FUTURE OF INDIAN CINEMA|
|FEATURE FILMS SHOULD DELIVER THE ¡¥COMMUNITY EXPERIENCE¡¦ TO SURVIVE|
THE BEST FILMS WILL BE BE DEVELOPED BY ONLINE GROUPS SHARING CONTENT
PERSONAL FILMS BY ICONIC FILM MAKERS WILL GENERATE ENOUGH REVENUES
THE BEST WAY TO RETHINK THE PARADIGM IS TO THINK OF A FILM AS AN APP
What survives, however, is the art of story-telling. In reality shows. In a soap opera. In a 30-second commercial. In a two-hour film. In each, the story-teller adapts to the technology and culture of the delivery system. The new force in delivery technologies is the Internet. Not only because it delivers artistic content to your personal device (computer or mobile) but also because it allows the consumer to co-create and share content with each other, bypassing the ‘gate keepers' who have traditionally dominated content.
I have no doubt that the theatrical film as we know it now will survive. But it will have far less of the iconic status it enjoys now. That's simply because a generation is now growing up with the tools to interact more closely in the act of creation with the artist. Also, this generation wants much more to be an ‘active' participant in the act of story-telling than a ‘passive' viewer.
So here is the future of the film business in India as I see it:
- Films have traditionally been a community experience. You laugh because a hundred other people are doing the same thing. Which is why all television comedy uses canned laughter on not-so-funny jokes. The real survival of feature films will be the ones that deliver the greatest community experience. The masala and ‘ride' film will continue but will lose its iconic status as will the stars of today.
- The best and the most edgy content/films will, however, be shared by communities creating their own content and delivering to the community over the internet. Stories will be told in shorter forms. Most new film makers will become bigger icons on this format than on big screen entertainment as they will ultimately prefer this art form for artistic as well as commercial reasons. Personal films by iconic film makers in this art form will generate enough revenues through content downloads to keep them financially stable.
- Since the world-wide web knows no geographical boundaries, Indian film / content creators or communities of creators will merge with larger communities world-wide. It will be one world.
- The traditional film-making business will have to compete with the world of the internet for audience attention. Their first attempt will be to deliver their content over the Internet once streaming technologies are sharper. However they will soon discover that their content has no sense of sharing/interactivity and they will be seen as ‘usurpers' or outsiders to the community. Small tiny budget content will outplay big budget or so called ‘gate-keeping content'.
- The business model will be reversed. Films will be made as an adjunct to their potential on delivery on the ‘internet' to communities that want to be able to manipulate and share content. Revenue from video games for example have far outstripped revenue from films. An opening-day sale of $500 million? But that is just the beginning-the tip of the iceberg.
- Today if a business house thinks of film, it must think of it as a 360-degree enterprise encompassing and harnessing the power of communities over the Internet. The potential financial returns are far greater than what a mere film can provide now.
The question I am asked most is: "When will you make Mr India 2?" My question to myself, though, is: "How do I turn Mr India 2 into an App?" For a film as an App is the best way to rethink the paradigm. Content will no longer be distinguishable between text, animation, music, gaming, sharing, co-creating. It will be one great ‘Manthan'.
Welcome to a very exciting future, for content-makers and sharers.
(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 09-01-2012)