From the stories we have, to the way we tell stories and to the way stories are consumed… Hindi cinema is barely recognisable from a few years ago
It is a very exciting time for Hindi cinema which is undergoing so many changes. As a generation that was among the last ones to witness an era without smart phones or social media to now transitioning to a time where one cannot imagine life without these modern technologies, all of these factors along with societal and cultural changes have also majorly affected what content gets made and also how we consume it.
Content: If we analyse content, this aspect has specifically undergone drastic changes. Believable and real characters have replaced the archetypes of a standard filmy hero, heroine and villain. Dialogue, costumes and treatment have become less filmy and more plausible. The duration of the movies has also shrunk from 3 hours to now usually about 2 hours long.
Music: Music in Hindi films has also evolved. Song – and-dance routines, though still very much an in tegral part of Bollywood, have been cut do wn considerably. Nowadays, songs play a role in taking the st ory forward and are no longer forced into the narrative just for the sake of it.
Also, the way music is consumed has evolved. Instead of cassettes and CDs, these days online streaming services like iTunes, YouTube, etc., are the most popular source for consuming music and have also become the new barometers to track the popularity of a song which in turn is also used as a promotional tool (for example- Impressive figures like 100 million views or 10 million hits in 24 hours)
Studio Culture: More and more production houses are adopting Hollywood studio and corporate culture, thereby lending more discipline and professionalism to the industry. Moreover, instead of a single production house, it is normal these days to see two or three production houses joining forces to make a single movie.
Emergence of Multiplexes: Niche cinema is slowly becoming more mainstream, thanks to the emergence of a burgeoning multiplex culture. Audience acceptance has given makers the courage to venture into new zones like science fiction, fantasy, biopics, crime thrillers and so on. Earlier, films were rarely made on such subjects.
Video Streaming Services: Audience is now exposed to world cinema thanks to the online streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar etc. Indian audience now expects the same level of quality from Bollywood. Judging by how superlative the overall competition is, makers here have had to step up their game. As a result of this budgets have shot up astronomically and so have the risks.
Marketing: Marketing has transformed totally with newer ways to reach audience through social media platforms. Earlier, film posters were enough for promotion of films because media presence earlier was relatively lower compared to today. Stars had a mystical, elusive aura about them. However now stars are more accessible and love to interact directly with fans through social media that also acts as an effective film promotional tool. Marketing budgets have also shot up as more avenues for promotion are being explored and the media now has a vast presence too.
The Crore Club Culture: Earlier, movie theatres were largely the source of entertainment, films enjoyed a long run at box office enjoying golden or silver jubilees. This phase has almost disappeared and in its place has surfaced the 100 crore club with the latest entry of 1,000 crore as the new aspiration.
International Business: Foreign, untapped markets have opened up like never before and the sky is the limit. This has also influenced the standard payment model where some lead stars now demand share in profits or territories in their contracts instead of or in addition to their usual fee.
In short, our budgets have grown and visually our films look grander and aesthetically pleasing. New stories are being written and told and there is more structure and professionalism in the execution of films. I’m just glad that all these changes are pushing the industry to become even better and deliver films at par with global standards. After all, the show must go on.
– On how cinema has grown and so has the business
(Written by Apoorva Mehta, CEO, Dharma Productions)