Tales have all the time 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 preventing one another for the throne of Hastinapur. However it is usually far more than that. In the perfect 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 have been wealthy in themes which might be as related right this moment as they have been centuries in the past. Deceit, manipulation, the dharma of doing the fitting 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 type. The absence of visible parts meant that youngsters needed to create their very own imageries.
The march of human evolution, accompanied by the frenetic tempo of business revolutions, had a major impression on storytelling. Within the fifteenth century, the Gutenberg Printing Press started recording tales on paper for posterity. Within the nineteenth century, the Lumiere Brothers confirmed the world how movement photos may deliver tales to life. After the top of World Conflict II, tv grew to become the principal instrument to form imaginations for over half a century, until the arrival of private computing gadgets. Within the twenty first century, the web and over-the-top leisure content material (OTT) seize the zeitgeist of our occasions.
The impression of expertise on leisure throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has heralded a paradigm shift in the direction of OTT. As film halls shuttered, folks logged on their telephones, tablets and sensible TVs for riveting content material. Manufacturing 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 21.8 per cent CAGR, from Rs 4,464 crore to Rs 11,976 crore, between 2018 and 2023, based on a latest PricewaterhouseCoopers report. But it surely 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 will now make numerous, 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. Equally, many Indian storytellers have discovered their voice on-line and symbolize the regional, linguistic and cultural variety that could be a distinctly Indian protect.
One other 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. As an illustration, a shopper now has the facility to observe a psychological thriller at 7 am on her cell phone reasonably 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 might be now not solely dominated by male characters.
Nevertheless, OTT content material is simply one of many some ways during which expertise has modified the way in which 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 e-book, checked out a display or heard a podcast. At the moment, augmented and digital actuality and synthetic intelligence enable shoppers to take part within the storytelling course of. A shopper is now not imagining descriptions of characters or areas; she performs an important position in shaping them. Maybe, probably the most seen manifestation of that is within the gaming business, which is more and more competing for a bigger chunk of the leisure pie.
On-line video games equivalent to Fortnite, a free-to-play recreation, have innovated with content material and enterprise fashions to turn into 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. Whereas gamers don’t pay to play, they’ll select to purchase bonus content material — the first driver of income. This method 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. Throughout the recreation itself, Fortnite has an area for gamers to take part in numerous 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 business 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. As an illustration, within the recreation Center-earth: Shadow of Conflict, 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, find out how to method a selected journey and what skills to improve. A novel mechanic known as the nemesis system tracks his encounters with numerous enemy Orcs and evolves its reminiscences of previous actions. Consequently, the participant would possibly come throughout an Orc who’s petrified of him or is in search of 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 Historic Epic is an action-adventure recreation that tells the story of a younger woman known as Raji destined to face the demon lord Mahabalasura. A standard thread that ties common 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 have been produced in India — 33.3 per cent increased than in 2018, based on a FICCI-EY 2020 report on the media and leisure sector.
In the previous few years, it has turn into obvious that speedy digitalisation has ushered in a sea change in India’s leisure business. It should now mine the nation’s wealthy cultural heritage to make the nice 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 artistic ecosystem ought to reap the benefits of such tales and present the world that, relating to technology-enabled storytelling, they’re able to seize the chance — one immersive story at a time.
Shekhar Kapur is an award-winning filmmaker and president, Movie and Tv Institute of India, Pune
Vani Tripathi is an actor, producer and member, Central Board of Movie Certification
* This text relies on their forthcoming joint report on the way forward for India’s leisure Trade, to be revealed by the suppose tank Esya Centre, New Delhi
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