Stories have at all times been about our inherent quest to outline and perceive the world round us. The Mahabharata, one of many oldest non secular texts, tells the story of two households combating one another for the throne of Hastinapur. But it is usually far more than that. In the most effective traditions of oral storytelling in India, grandmothers sat grandchildren down and narrated the tales of the long-drawn battle between the Kauravas and the Pandavas. The Mahabharata tales had been wealthy in themes which can be as related as we speak as they had been centuries in the past. Deceit, manipulation, the dharma of doing the best factor or examples of large-heartedness and sacrifice — oral storytelling allowed for a lot larger variation and embellishment, as each storyteller narrated a story in her distinct fashion. The absence of visible parts meant that youngsters had to create their very own imageries.
The march of human evolution, accompanied by the frenetic tempo of commercial revolutions, had a major affect on storytelling. In the 15th century, the Gutenberg Printing Press started recording tales on paper for posterity. In the 19th century, the Lumiere Brothers confirmed the world how movement photos might deliver tales to life. After the top of World War II, tv turned the principal instrument to form imaginations for over half a century, until the arrival of non-public computing gadgets. In the 21st century, the web and over-the-top leisure content material (OTT) seize the zeitgeist of our instances.
The affect of know-how on leisure throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has heralded a paradigm shift in the direction of OTT. As film halls shuttered, individuals logged on their telephones, tablets and sensible TVs for riveting content material. Production homes, hit onerous by the shutdown, learn the writing on the wall and launched function movies on on-line platforms. The OTT market in India is predicted to develop at 21.eight per cent CAGR, from Rs 4,464 crore to Rs 11,976 crore, between 2018 and 2023, in accordance to a latest PricewaterhouseCoopers report. But it isn’t simply the viewer who’s rejoicing on the prosperity of OTT content material in India.
For particular person content material creators, who didn’t have the monetary or infrastructural help to specific themselves on conventional media, OTT has been a godsend. They can now make various, area of interest and high-quality content material and be assured of a giant viewers. YouTube’s highest incomes content material creator for 2018 and 2019 was Ryan Kaji, an eight-year-old, who began his profession by reviewing and unboxing toys. In 2019, he earned $26 million, up from $22 million in 2018. Similarly, many Indian storytellers have discovered their voice on-line and signify the regional, linguistic and cultural variety that may be a distinctly Indian protect.
Another change lies within the extra non-public nature of OTT viewing. The viewer has a larger diploma of management over what, how and the place she consumes content material. It has additionally shattered viewing habits instilled in us by tv. For occasion, a shopper now has the facility to watch a psychological thriller at 7 am on her cell phone quite than meet up with the breakfast information on TV at that very same hour. OTT has additionally led to the creation of breakthrough feminist narratives which can be not solely dominated by male characters.
However, OTT content material is simply one of many some ways wherein know-how has modified the best way we entertain ourselves. It has additionally impacted storytelling itself. Earlier, tales simply had readers, listeners or viewers who flipped by means of the pages of a guide, checked out a display screen or heard a podcast. Today, augmented and digital actuality and synthetic intelligence enable customers to take part within the storytelling course of. A shopper is not imagining descriptions of characters or places; she performs an important function in shaping them. Perhaps, probably the most seen manifestation of that is within the gaming trade, which is more and more competing for a bigger chunk of the leisure pie.
Online video games corresponding to Fortnite, a free-to-play sport, have innovated with content material and enterprise fashions to turn out to be platforms themselves. Fortnite has over 350 million gamers, who spent a complete of three.2 billion hours taking part in the sport in April alone. While gamers don’t pay to play, they’ll select to purchase bonus content material — the first driver of income. This strategy in the direction of monetisation has made Fortnite a formidable presence available in the market. In a 2019 letter to its shareholders, Netflix recognized it as a much bigger rival to its operations than HBO. Within the sport itself, Fortnite has an area for gamers to take part in varied actions, together with digital live shows by Grammy-nominated musicians like Travis Scott and Diplo. Commentators say that is solely the start of such on-line experiences, particularly after the disruption attributable to the pandemic.
The gaming trade has additionally pioneered immersive storytelling by means of open-world video games, each on-line and offline. These are digital playgrounds the place listeners/viewers use their very own creativeness and, mixed with the scenes offered, create their very own story. For occasion, within the sport Middle-earth: Shadow of War, a participant is transported to the world of JRR Tolkien’s creation, and given a personality to play. As the sport goes on, the participant can determine which adversary to go after, how to strategy a selected journey and what skills to improve. A singular mechanic referred to as the nemesis system tracks his encounters with varied enemy Orcs and evolves its reminiscences of previous actions. Consequently, the participant may come throughout an Orc who’s petrified of him or is looking for revenge. Thus, each participant has an distinctive expertise, together with distinct relationships with enemy characters.
Some Indian studios, too, have jumped on to the immersive leisure bandwagon. Nodding Head Studios in Pune is translating Indian tales into next-gen leisure merchandise. Raji: An Ancient Epic is an action-adventure sport that tells the story of a younger lady referred to as Raji destined to face the demon lord Mahabalasura. A standard thread that ties well-liked OTT content material and Raji… is that they’re distinctly Indian cultural merchandise, rooted within the nation’s wealthy heritage and historical past. In 2019, 1,600 hours of authentic OTT content material had been produced in India — 33.three per cent larger than in 2018, in accordance to a FICCI-EY 2020 report on the media and leisure sector.
In the previous few years, it has turn out to be obvious that fast digitalisation has ushered in a sea change in India’s leisure trade. It should now mine the nation’s wealthy cultural heritage to make the good leap ahead. Epics just like the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, in addition to the Hamzanama, on the exploits of Amir Hamza, are non-linear, layered sagas. India’s inventive ecosystem ought to reap the benefits of such tales and present the world that, when it comes to technology-enabled storytelling, they’re prepared to seize the chance — one immersive story at a time.
Shekhar Kapur is an award-winning filmmaker and president, Film and Television Institute of India, Pune
Vani Tripathi is an actor, producer and member, Central Board of Film Certification
* This article is predicated on their forthcoming joint report on the way forward for India’s leisure Industry, to be revealed by the assume tank Esya Centre, New Delhi
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