POLITICS AND COMPLEXITY OF CULTURES IN INDIAN MEDIAby Vinta Nanda March 10 2015, 4:38 pm Estimated Reading Time: 6 mins, 25 secs
Writing entertaining content is no longer about an indulgence; nor about the purging of an overwhelmed soul.
Neither is it about following directives of marketing and research teams of networks and studios who are analyzing data to draw a healthy balance between the beliefs and practices of audiences and which way their corporate clients want to veer them, anymore.
The fierce polarization of media (which continues to further fracture)is creating distractions that are luring captive audiences and seducing them to turn away from where their loyalties are, to try out other things.
That they will not return back to what they have left behind is inevitable, because if they don’t get glued to what attracted them; there is already something else beckoning them, which they are gravitating towards.
Audiences across the globe are curious and inquisitive, so while they do seek content that interests them, there is a blitzkrieg of much more which they are at the receiving end of; which may or might not be what they like but which stares at them from everywhere, to a point which they cannot ignore.
Media today is like a room filled with magic mirrors in which the audience is trapped; and while the kaleidoscope presents itself and swallows the viewer every minute of the day, the world keeps coming closer.
There is a demand for stories that come from different places about diverse people and cultures which is growing and it will be impossible for studios and networks across the globe any longer, to monopolize the entertainment space or for that matter, to be able to occupy the minds of audiences for long spells of time.So to hold attention spans of collectives of people, storytelling as a whole needs to reinvent rigorously; and storytellers will have to innovate in real time henceforth.
As you go out to research and find out more about the story you want to tell through one medium or another, don’t be surprised if somebody is already telling it in a simpler way.
How would you then, as scriptwriters, tell a story about what you haven’t experienced but are intrigued about; without diving to the unknown and creating a story as you discover it yourself?
The controls have shifted and we as writers might as well accept it and become the audience as well as the tellers of the story, before even this time is lost.
Meanwhile on platforms and mediums like Indian Television, that still in these times,gives you space to explore because there is a developing world, huge in numbers, still struggling to catch up with the juggernaut; how would you, say an artiste and an expressionist who is curious about life and intrigued about what goes on in the minds of two people; one a neuroscientist and an artificial intelligence expert, and the other a techie; write a love story without the help of the expertise of the neuroscientist and the techie; a story that evolves between two protagonists, after they meet for the first time on a flight from one place to another because they are seated next to each other, purely by default?
We are far ahead in time now, than we were in, 5 years ago, when it was fascinating to know about what went on between two people belonging to different cultures, states, countries, languages etc., when they met while seated next to each other, on a flight from one place to another, and a relationship between them took off.
I think the world has dealt with all that stuff, and the present paradigm is about things that matter; and the things that count in the lives of human beings now are stories that open windows for audiences to experience alternate possibilities which are complex; diverse prospects where viewers can test their own potentials, and drive their own thresholds.
Today, when we mollycoddle our viewers and pander to what we perceive are their expectations; when we feed them with the entertainment which our numbers suggest they deserve,like we have been doing in the last two decades, westunt the progress of our own cultures and create barriers in the path for growth. Furthermore, we suspend the expansion of our own ideas by limiting them.
Challenging minds of people, and enlightening them with knowledge about the information that is available for them to access in the world today is on the contrary, doing true justice to the positions we hold as scriptwriters, journalists, creators and storytellers.
Staying ahead of the curve is now mandatory, but how do you beat your audience in the race when the viewer is already up to speed with you, or else on many occasions, ahead of you?
Patients today explore the net and tell Doctors what treatment they should be given. Clients walk into restaurants and tell chefs how they want their food done.
So how is it that writers are going to sell their stories unless they listen to their audiences and take their advise on what they would like to see, hear or read; unless they involve them and interact with them?
Or make the idea so complex that it takes time for the audience and repeated viewing, to unravel it?
Well the only way out to do either is for writers to be able todive into the darkness and find themselves along with the stories they are looking for.
Postponing our own visits to the unknown and unseen realities is not going to help because evolution is now ahead of us.
How deep we go to the unvisited, is directly proportionate to how far we take the world that consumes our work along with us.
It was unfortunate that the creative constituency got disempowered in the last 20 years when the business of media and entertainment grew mammoth proportions and mainly focused and invested in its own penetration and distribution.
So for the business now to reuse that throwaway content which was produced in times that storytellers were not considered stakeholders in the race, and milk it for more returns is not a good thing for especially a developing country like ours.
It is important for the business to junk most of that material which was produced primarily to fill space at the time when the juggernaut was out of control.
Rerunning dated material today would be travesty to the audience, which is a newcomer to the paradigm, because it would tantamount to shortchanging them.They will never forgive uswhen they catch with us in the years to come and realize that their investment in our work went wasted and they have been cheated; like many of the upwardly mobile audiences who have caught up with time today, feel. Today the chief investor and stakeholder in the business of media and entertainment is the consumer whose time and money spent to view our work, costs.
The struggle to create the right content must persist and investment towards it must increase exponentially as channels grow in numbers and viewership’s get divided across many platforms.
The rush to debunk failed attempts at creating content that is relevant to the times, and to replace it with defunct works which led us through a horribly regressive era; would be a huge crime upon what we believe today to be the biggest investor in the business of entertainment, the largest stakeholder; which is the audience.
Irrelevant content when resonates with viewers who are privy to little else, is vicious and when made to run through our media streams across the board, it can have devastating effects on our societies, communities and the mental health of people at large.