|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
How Digital Age is changing India
Amit Khanna | November 05, 2005
This column turns 100! Whether it's a century in cricket or a 100-week run for a film, there is a certain thrill attached to it. This is a platform to share my thoughts and views with you, and occasionally it has been prescient.
In this ever-changing phantasmagoria of technology and art, media & entertainment can be an exciting business. Even as new forms emerge and old formats reinvent themselves, more people are looking at ways to keep themselves informed and entertained. This means more employment, more opportunities and, yes, more money.
As I have often said in these columns, the advent of the Digital Age is altering the entertainment paradigm. Nowhere it is more visible than in India .The sheer number of films, newspapers and TV channels makes India a global player. What is fascinating is that slowly but surely India is becoming an interlocutor in the new international entertainment scene. Bollywood is arguably India's best-recognised brand worldwide.
Within India, we have seen the corporatisation of the industry since this column first appeared. It has become a preferred choice for employment, investment or indeed academia. From special effects start-ups to venerated newspapers, from integrated media conglomerates to niche channels there is a flurry of activity both on the bourses and on the mindscape. If ever there was an emerging business in these times it is showbiz.
At last count, over eight billion people worldwide watched a film last year and over three billion watch a TV programme every day. In the US, the time spent per household before the television is over eight hours. But ultimately there is the limitation of time. How much can you get into 24 hours if you want it all? Yet, today media & entertainment is a $1.4 trillion industry globally.
However, behind the hype, hoopla, glitter, glamour, fads, foibles and euphoria there still lurks the pain and anguish of many a failure. Nowhere else does the spotlight change so frequently or idols fall like clay pigeons. Deafening applause quickly dissolves into deadened silence. From marquee to archive is an achievement reserved for a select few.
For most, it is a walk down Sunset Boulevard into oblivion. Perhaps to be rediscovered in the virtual world of a Google search or the smorgasbord of TV reruns (3,000 channels and counting), or to pass onto the stream of consciousness for an entire generation - Beatles to Brando, Lata to Bachchan. It is this interlocking of the ephemeral and the eternal that makes the frozen frame pulsate to life.
This is where stars come in: people with exceptional talent or chutzpah and, occasionally, even both. These people write, sing, dance, emote or just create that moment of magic which catches an eye or a million: captivating and exalting, human brilliance at its radiant best. These stars grab your attention with their work, charm or presence.
They are the lifeblood of tinsel and trivia. At a time when technology is altering not only the process of creativity but also the experience itself there can no definitive forecast where we are headed in this business.
Wherever that may be, this column will track that exhilerating journey.The author is chairman of Reliance Entertainment and the views expressed are his own