A Hundred Years Since…Phalke and Digital Cinema

I

As we celebrate one hundred years of filmmaking since the release of Raja Harishchandra in 1913, the Indian film industry seems to be in a déjà vu of sorts. Just as cinema during Phalke was breaking fresh technological grounds, cinema today appears to be breaking newer grounds with a new technology of digital cinema. One is likely to observe many parallels between Phalke’s times and now, with similar dilemmas, similar despairs and also similar possibilities and exuberances. The arrival of digital cinematography, in more than one way changes the way cinema responds to society and produces and circulates culture, just as once the arrival of the technology of cinema changed the Indian viewing culture. The change in technology that the digital cinema brings about produces some major changes in the kind of cinema that gets made and viewed and accordingly also interact and partake in the constitution and the politics of the society in which it is made and watched. The aim of the present paper is to understand the major changes in the viewer politics which the digital cinema is likely propagate.

Dadasaheb Phalke worked and lived between 1870 and 1944 and led India’s grand success as one of the most vibrant film industries of the world. Phalke indigenized the film technology, invented many cinematic tricks and visual possibilities which were ahead of anywhere else in the world, including the USA. Phalke worked closely with Baburao Painter and later Prabhat Film Company which went on to produce full length films with stories, fiction and later sound building upon the basic technology that Phalke furthered and promoted. Today, after a hundred years, new possibilities have arrived once again through the digital cinema where the technology changes the cinematic frames and creates possibilities for new visuals and thereby changes the parameters of aesthetics of cinema. The present paper tries to compare and contrast the two moments, that of Phalke and that of the new age digital cinema, separated by a hundred years.

II

The digital cinema in a sharp contrast to the analog cinema is shot in digital cameras and has picture resolutions in pixels. As the technology stands today, digital frames are more intense in the short range and have difficulties in capturing long range shots, or speed of moving objects over real time. Speed is digitally manipulated, produces sharp and fast cuts but not producing real motion. For instance, speed is shown through moving frames and not by capturing movement within the frame. Digital cinema is great for sharply focussing on close range objects, for portraying heightened and bleeding colours; it is good for the capturing images of the home but not of the world. Just as a hundred years ago, Phalke used cinematic techniques to bring out our myths and legends in the public domain to be viewed by one and all, universally and together in the same shared space of the exhibition ground, today’s digitalized cinema inverts this trend and moves us back into the home away from the world. It is said that people would flock from far away villages in bullock carts and camp for days to catch shows of Lanka Dahan, Mohini Bhasmasur and Shri Krishna Janma. Phalke’s films were like festivals and like festivals; they created spaces for people from diverse backgrounds to come together.

I think when you are talking about digital cinema you need to further distinguish within the paradigm and talk about the traditional digital camera which came with fixed lenses and the new age digital camera, which allows you to add lenses and hence variable focus and depth of field. When you are talking about the cinematic shot it is possible to get the hugely cinematic large canvas backdrop shot if you add a wide angle lens to a RED camera or even with a DSLR like Canon 5D, which is comes with a full bank of lenses.

“There was not one problem during the 300,000 feet of film shot, and it would have been hell shooting on a digital camera. Film cameras are so comfortable to use handheld because they are correctly balanced.” Giles Nutgens (DOP Midnights children). In counter point to what is said above it would be pertinent to add that handheld camera actually works out better because of their weight and the modern digital camera like Arri Alexa are actually as large as traditional 16mm cameras to address issues of balance. The handheld technique or steady cam shooting techniques are essentially techniques developed for the film camera.[1]  Digital cinema when it was first conceptualized was used primarily to add a home movie feel to a film like Blair Witch Project or a Paranormal Activity this is a far cry from the way it has been used in Slumdog Millionaire where it was used to get multiple angles of for the same scene thus adding to the frenetic pace required for the chase through the slums sequence. The sum and substance of the above arguments are that there may no longer be a clear divide between the analog and the digital technologies. Yet, the differences in the two are compelling.

When we observe a digital film, Slumdog Millionnaire, we immediately know the contrasts. People do not unite under the film’s common symbols; instead, the film produces reactions and responses that crack universal acceptance. Slumdog Millionnaire purports to puncture our prime mass medium, namely the television by caricaturing the famous game show, Kaun Banega Crorepati. The idea of the digital cinema is to challenge, invert and even to subvert the universal space by withdrawing into the close range of images and shrinking the periphery to restricted zones of pixel density.

The constraints of the digital cinematography translate into the particular kinds of cinema it can make. Narratives become personal; characters are inconsistent, incoherent and live in contradiction rather than heroic as in the analog cinema. Spaces crash into the specific and particular. Visuals are free of their locations, even dismal slums appear artistic. A mossed wall may seem  The apparent aesthetic value of visuals increase, reality merge with the artistry of paintings and computerized manipulations introduce some kind of a cuboid bricolage that tear images from their realism into the realm of representation. The overused term, representation finds its zenith in the digital cinema making. Quentin Tarantino, the noted Hollywood producer and director says that he is never going to use the digital medium for his cinema. It is an offence on cinema by making it into television. Indeed, the frames of digital cinema are more suited to be telecast than be projected on a cine screen. [2]

One has to observe films made by Sandip Ray on the popular fictional character, Feluda. Royal Bengal Rohosyo, a digitally made film is already different from Bombayer Bombete shpt on the analog. The frames are sliced off as if to fit a television screen and the film perhaps fails to capture the sense of deep dark forests and far away mountains amidst which sit quaint bungalows in which reside strange men. Royal Bengal Rohosyo is watched through a window; one walks into the frames of Bombayer Bombete. The frames of films absorb the viewer; the films become the truth that seems to contain the viewer and her reality. Instead, the digital cinema appears to slice off reality and create peep holes through which one has to catch unholy glimpses of the untruths.

 

III

Digital cinema can be better understood if one observes the progress of the television as the most dominant mode of mass medium overtaking the radio and the cinema. The television brings the public space inside the home, to be ensconced within it, to be contained, held and bordered off by it. The outer frame of the television lies within the home, its inner frames forays into the world, like a lighted torch, intensely focussed but otherwise darkened and shut off from vision. The television is the opposite of the film; in a film, the audience sits in the dark, where the surrounding area is shut off from her vision. In the television, the audience sits in a well-lighted room, well perched in her couch or bed, with her world everywhere gathered and organized around her and her daily life in a systematic and planned rhythm. It is within the screen that the world gets truncated, interrupted by advertisements and truncated and distracted by marquees of breaking news. The world in the television is never a whole world, not even in the reality shows does a viewer get a sense of having watched the entire thing. This is so unlike in a film which really exhausts the world.

The form of film is such that it appears as though it has said everything that is there to say; films which flop at the box office are typically productions where the audience does not get this sense of exhausting the entire world. The television in contrast whirls itself more and more into the seams and complexities of domesticity. Unlike the film which simplifies, straightens out and places things in universality, the television complicates and twirls and tweaks things around. No wonder then the soap serials are so intrinsic to the television. The film star is therefore a conquering hero, one who overcomes, transcends and emerges victorious from the struggles. The television star is one who is subjugated and victimized by her situation. When digital cinema making would become the mainstream way of doing things, one can easily imagine that the universalising and conquering hero would be dampened into a victim of circumstances. The entire politics is likely to change as a result.

 

 

The politics of a culture where heroes live is distinctly different from politics without heroes. The former has a sense of society, a purpose of history, a feeling for the future. In the latter, politics is about competition, envy, exclusion, creating gangs and setting up entry barriers. The former thrives in a system of expanding opportunities, the latter in a trap of decreasing entitlements and certainties. Digital film making expresses the frames of a constrained society, an envious society, a society of competition and internecine struggles. Its technology is therefore about highlighting an enclosed space, instead of bringing into frame and borderless world.

One of the best instances of a film fully shot in the digital mode is that of the Malaylam film director, T.V.Chandran’s Bhoomiyude Avakashikal[3]. This is a film on the endangered insects and small animals in the earth. Digital film making is the best suited for observing insects, close shot of leaves and micron view of nature. In the film Life of Pi, the digital mode is used very well to show underwater life, a close view through opaque medium. T.V.Chandran finds digital film making very well suited to the non-human, or the non-actor. He mentions that the star of the digital cinema is the technology. Needless to say that this cinema attacks conventional film making by reducing the importance of story and the star and instead increasing the worth of the camera, technicians and director. In terms of power structures within the cinema world, we may anticipate a shift and in terms of visuals we may return to the days of Phalke when films were only magical spectacles to be watched in awe but not as discursive texts circulated through mutual discussions, reviews and gossip.

IV

The present paper does not suggest that digital film making will create a new kind of constrained cognition but what it says is that in many ways, digital film making will reflect those changes which constitute our life world. Today’s age is an age of global capital. Interestingly, two major boundaries namely that of the State and the nation both stand diluted. The state performs mainly the role of a facilitator of investments while nation has become an emotional entity thanks to global migration instead of being a shared space for social opportunities. The age of global capital also renders an individual into a consumer rather than a worker who contributes to the production of wealth. The consumer is still a citizen and a bundle of rights but she is so much of a consumer that her being a citizen is defined with respect to her consumables. For instance, in China, only citizens can buy automobiles, in the UAE, only citizens can buy real estate; in India, only citizens can access public health and public distribution. The citizen is defined as a consumer with maximum consumption rights. The idea of civil rights too is consumeristic; law and order is the right to consume peace and not to have rights to assert oneself for justice. Digital film making by presenting its visuals at close range with heightened intensities and unreal focus and colours only pander to our consumerist needs.

We take some of the productions of Shri Venkatesh Films into consideration. The film 22shey Shrabon, a murder mystery and crime thriller aestheticized the gruesome portals of the prison, and the lanes of slums. The film hero, the iconic superstar of the Bengali cinema Prasenjit is trapped into the restricted frames and within stiff camera movements to reveal his repressions rather than his victory over them. Expectedly, his character is forever hurling verbal abuses representing as if the frustrations of a larger than life character on the analog screen into the constraints of the digital frames. The film Autograph, a remake of Satyajit Ray’s film, Nayak that starred the doyen of Bengali stardom, Uttam Kumar has a similar flavour. Ray had critiqued Uttam Kumar’s stardom, showing the star as one despite his success is a failure in life. But the film Autograph showed that despite every criticism, the superstar Prasenjit is still a hero, and he can extend his powers beyond imagined limits. Between Uttam Kumar in Nayak and Prasenjit in Autograph, the latter is portrayed as being more iconic. Unfortunately due to the constraints of the frames and lack of depth, the iconic image of Prasenjit emerges more commonplace while that of Uttam Kumar, despite the criticism of the director remains larger than life.

The closed frames of the digitally shot cinema do not always allow for a free play of the narrative and thus heroes suffocate for want of narrative range. Stunted characters become mundane people whose efforts yield only marginal rewards; observed in very close range, they remain tied to their moorings. They are so oppressed by their situations that they are fortunate to only arrive at steady states of beings; to embark on a journey of a long pilgrimage or to have the courage of an ascetic is very far reached. The small scale of characters also reinforces our beliefs that it is naïve to dream big, to sacrifice for our ideals or to have ideals in the first place. Digital film making upholds this lack of idealism; riding upon the back of pragmatism, the digital cinema, kills ideals, kills the sublime and presents instead as its redemption those very things that bind us and keep us imprisoned among our prejudices and notions.

We may speak of the digital cinema as that which withdraws from the public sphere. It is not the mere frames that necessitate this withdrawal. Digital cinema helps independent producers to make films; in a way it democratizes the film making business helping many individuals to become film makers. The broadening of the film making base, unfortunately does not translate into universalism and/or inclusion. The democratization of the film business paradoxically takes away the legitimacy of democracy. Individuals become individualistic, instead of purporting to speak for an entire people, or nation, or collectivity, they speak of themselves often placing their personal agenda against the collective. At the International Film Festival of Kerala, 2012, Manoj Kana, the director of the film Chayilyam said that the film was made with donations, starting from Rs.5, from the public, and so has nearly 2,000 producers to give credit to, somewhat on the lines of what the legendary John Abraham did for his Amma Ariyan in 1986.[4] Amma Ariyan was not the typical star based popular cinema; instead it addressed the unspoken incidences of mental disturbances among the youth in the Kerala society.

 

V

Too many independent film makers try to divide the universality of the public space among them and in this endeavour thwart the public sphere, filling it up with unresolved personal issues, particular visions, specific notions and prejudiced opinions.  The fragmentation of a public space eventually undermines democracy, paving the way for private idiosyncracies of various kinds thus curbing the universal language of communication. Digital film making has robbed us of our commonly viewed cinema, our commonly held interests around stars and our commonly discussed and debated merits of directors.

The above may be illustrated by studying Mainak Bhowmik’s film, Aamra, on which the Hindi film, Dil Kabbadi was based. Aamra portrayed the frailty of intimate relations against a backdrop of wider choices of mates and freer sex and also the challenges to the human ego made by a society of increased competition and uncertainties. The analog film, Dil Kabadi was somehow capable of showing the sustained importance of marriage and intimate relations notwithstanding that these were challenged by the ways of the world. The analog cinema is eager to establish truths against the world; the digital cinema wants to break certainties, affirmatives, and absolutes.

The digitally manipulated film Ra One built upon the model of a game show undermines the human feelings in the narrative through the insistence on techniques of a created mascot, Ra One and digitally produced imageries. The film dehumanizes the human elements. On the other hand, Robot which has portions shot in digital films with the bulk in analog appears to humanize the robot.

The economics of digital cinema lies in its reproducibility. It is more important for films to be available for downloads and DVD formats or in the cloud than it is to be watched on screen. Digital cinema is made to fit the frames of a television rather than that of a public theatre. When a film is released to a large screen in a theatre, there is a temporal life to the film. It is released, it is watched and this viewing by many people within a span of time gives the cinema a peculiar historicity. Digital film making, because of its diffuse circulation takes away from it not only the collective of viewing but also its temporality. Digital cinema was in any case a-spatial due to its concentrated and closed frames; it is because of its manner of circulation also a temporal. The extraction of cinema from its time and space takes away a fundamental feature with which cinema has always been associated, namely politics of nation building.

Let us consider the upbeat film, Hemlock Society. The film is digitally made and produced by Shri Venkatesh Films. Hemlock Society attacks the rather egoistic suicidal drive among the youth of Kolkata. The film builds up on optimism, shared public space, conversations and speaks in terms of common causes and cooperative existence. It frequently uses mainstream popular Hindi films to make a case against the fragmented individualism of modern times. Unfortunately, it again returns to the same problem of seeming very personal. The film becomes a life style cinema rather than one where specific life styles are minimized to create a semblance of universality of shared existence.

It would be pertinent to place our observations on digital film making against the backdrop of Dadasaheb Phalke’s endeavours. When Phalke wanted to make films, cinema was expensive in terms of raw stock and equipment, both of which had to be imported. Phalke a professional photographer in the early 20th century raised some funds from small money lenders and gathered some equipment to produce his first film. His films were produced at home and members of his family acted in these. These small details go to prove that Phalke was also an individual making cinema. He had financiers when his films did well and he mounted debts when they did not do well. The absence of steady finance goes to show that as a film maker, Phalke was not supported in any consistent manner by the industrialists. He was also not supported by the political leaders of Swadeshi. Phalke made cinema on his own initiatives, but in making his films, he thought on behalf of an entire humanity; his personal pains never emerged in his films and in each of his production there was a desire to transcend above his specific life situation to emerge into a realm where such petty affairs of everyday life never arose. Phalke’s films were dreams, fantasies and escapes into utopia.

VI

The digital cinema, in a sharp contrast restricts the viewer to the rather personal details of the characters in the story; they are more about rather specific situations. The digital cinema, Slumdog Millionnaire is a point in the case. The film’s irreverence was perhaps possible because it was shot in the digital format. The film was sabotage, a subversion of a culture created by the television of India appearing to be happy and prosperous, achieving every middle class dream. Slumdog Millionnaire used the popular television game show, Kaun Banega Crorepati to contest that what are matters to be “known” by a middle class who lives completely cut off from the harsh realities life is actually the everyday lived in world for the poor. The film shows the gruesome associations that the “right choice answers” of the contest has for a poor boy in the slum. Digital cinema’s principle source of power lies in its subversion of faith, beliefs and ideas of common life. The analog cinema that Spielberg asserts his loyalty to emanates from building up a common life by assimilating particularities into a grand universality. This is the language of participative creation.

In an interesting anecdote, Bapu Watve the biographer of Dada Saheb Phalke writes that Nashik was a religious pilgrim centre and the economically and socially dominated class were that of the Brahmins. After Phalke went to Nashik and produced his cinema from there, the Brahmins too opened their film company and were making films. Since cinema had to appeal across a section of caste and class, the Brahmins made cinema of universal appeal; Brahminical dominance had to dissolve. The digital cinema encourages a withdrawal, non-participation and in this, inadvertently makes the entire public domain of watching films into zones of private affairs. This increases voyeurism and consumerism and takes away the crux of aesthetics of the German Idealism, namely a feeling of asceticism. Digitally shot films through its compressed frames encourage withdrawal and reaffirm the selfhood of a consumerist culture.

The manipulated images in the digital technology creates a case for consuming non-realistic visuals; the value for the real world image thus lies underrated and the disjunction between the real world and the world mediated through a series of consumables gets ever more established. Digital cinema becomes equivalent to processed food as opposed to real food.

It is generally believed that digital film making being low cost enables many independent film makers to emerge in the arena of cinema. This statement is partly true. But there is yet another angle to it. The softwares, the skilled people to run these softwares and the powerful computers needed to run these programmes are unlikely to be afforded by many. Companies like Hindustan Levers and Reliance immediately take up the technology just as it is released so as to be able to encash super profits before the technology becomes cheap and ready to be superseded. These companies help films attain gloss and help in distribution. Not many directors can access these high contacts and directors; directors who are in the high league are mainly advertisement film directors. It is only to be expected that when a class of ad film directors come into the scene, cinema can only follow the format of promoting consumption. Going back a hundred years to Phalke, many industrialists came forward to finance his films. But between Phalke and the industrialists, it was Phalke who had the upper hand, refusing to be helped many times by capitalists and changing financiers repeatedly. The upper hand of the corporates was not evident as it is the case at present because the cinema is a product for consumption instead of being a movement for swadeshi and swaraj.

 

VII

A possible reason for Phalke to have stood his ground was perhaps because his eyes were set upon creating symbols for the entire nation; he sacrificed the certainties and comforts of his life for his goal, his goal being to create symbols for his nation, sovereignty, people, humanity and civilization. This made Phalke indifferent to rewards. Phalke was also not competing against any one. He swells with pride when Baburao Painter makes an indigenous version of the film camera; he walks with his head high as Wadia makes his narrative cinema. He is exhilarated with D.N.Ganguly; he is excited by Madan’s cinematic presentation of Bankimchandra’s novels. For Phalke, the successes of his colleagues only add to his mission and movement.

Unfortunately, among digital film makers, despite each one only holds a small portion of the ground of cinema, there is a fight to finish. This mindless competition among peers can only be explained by the fact that despite each is only breaking a united view of the world; each also wants to be seen as the ultimate idolator. Every director seems to be vying with the other to catch eyeballs, catch attention of the viewers because whether it is the analog or the digital, in the final tally, films must circulate to be known as films. There is no sense in producing films for limited viewership though many film makers would want us to believe in such thesis.

However when films with rather personal viewpoints desire universal viewership, cinema becomes partisan; there is not only a fracture of the assimilative public space but there is a desire of one single point of view to dominate over others. Such domination requires a posture of being holier than thou and this stance is fascist. In recent times, we observe how culture is used for partisan gains, how hard politics is fought over the body of art.  The present paper does not claim that digital cinema has produced such a state of affairs but what is merely being suggested is that digital cinema reflects the aesthetics of such times.

VIII

The rules of aesthetics change with digital cinema. While in the days of analog cinema, artistic pleasure appears to emanate out of unity of diversities, of specificities merging into generalities, of the concrete being raised to the level of the concepts. In the days of digital cinema, art redefines itself as one where it never leaves the body; unlike in the conventional cinema, the appeal of films travel from tactile and physical pleasure towards a spiritual fulfilment, digital cinema tends to reduce pleasure back into the body. Conventional popular cinema has located itself in politics; digital cinema locates itself in lifestyle. The consumption of life style items which includes the body is central to digital cinema; it is about the discovery of the body amidst rare sensations of digitally intervened technologies.

One can compare the film Sholay and Ra One to illustrate the point related to aesthetics. Sholay is opening up of vistas, of release of energies and space. Ra One is more interior, experiencing that which is inside a game world, or lie hidden inside the computer chip. Digital cinema is a peep inside, a travel into things, mostly inanimate worlds of technology from which emanate energies to drive and control the world around us. Sholay, on the other hand is about the release of the body from within its surroundings so that it hits the hard rocks, runs across the fields, travels in trains and speeds through the openness beyond the home. Sholay empowers the body and through it, the mind. Ra One is indifferent to the body, except as a site for experience; the mind must see different things, often those which are not in this world. It constitutes a serious undermining of the body as a source of agency and tries to reach into the zone of the mind, from which emerges magic to control things around oneself as an automaton. The difference in aesthetics lies therefore within the sense of individual agency; politics of art in our modern times also derive from the same concerns. Aesthetics of Sholay arises from putting the body in charge of the physical world where there is work to do among real things and real people. Aesthetics of Ra One is about the need to control the world. In Sholay, we see action; in Ra One we observe remote control.

Phalke used cinema to expand our horizons of the visual field bringing into it superlatives like a giant, Ravana, the muscular body of Hanuman, the ornate portals of Kansa, the power of Krishna dancing on the giant serpent Kaliya. Life of Pi and Avatar too showed enormous proportions of nature, but by making the individual small. The search of spectacle at two distinct moments of time separated by a hundred years tells us of our polity. Phalke’s search was that of Swadeshi and rapidly coincided with the mass movement under the leadership of Gandhi and Tilak. Only Swadeshi could not have created the spirit of individual agency though it did create a sense of indigenous enterprise. The Swadeshi produced the Indian capitalist. In a sharp contrast to this, the mass movements produced the idea of an individual citizen, a person with rights and obligations towards a virtuous society, one who would be in the ordinary business of life, exercising rational choice, fairness and responsibility. The latter is the idea of citizenship rather than of the entrepreneur. Phalke’s efforts were entrepreneurial but he created a space where mythical characters moved about and were present for longer duration and thus were humanized from their mere states of icons and idols. Cinema as Phalke developed was perhaps the greatest idolator ever where Gods and Goddesses were converted into dancing stars.

When we return to digital cinema, the restrictions of frames and limitations of depth also limit the dimensions of the characters portrayed. In this sense, digital cinema too is iconoclastic. It breaks the star system by capturing multiple angles to her body and by locating bodies into well-ordered spaces to contain colour spill. But unlike in Phalke where juggernauts and lifeless idols became flesh and blood characters, in the digital cinema, flesh and blood characters are squeezed into frames. This mirrors the process of our consumerist societies where people protect the levels of consumption, and thereby guard wealth and spaces within which consumption takes place.

IX

The arguments set out above need to be contextualized in the backdrop of India’s visual culture, and especially in view of the fact that the historical conditions in India have been different from those in Europe and America and hence require unique theories of visual culture. Unlike in Western Christianity in which the visual was often a contrast, a break in into what usually was the way of life and represented a new kind of moral domination, the visuals in India, like elsewhere in the Orient is bringing to light, setting forth and revealing in its form and fullness something that already lay latent and innate. Phalke’s images of Gods and Demons thus brought into revelation of the hidden resources of the Indian epics and myths and revealed them to a public. The politics of Phalke’s visuals lay in the fact that it was as if a collective consciousness congealed and stood before the viewers; the hitherto unseen had become visible. For over a hundred years, for most viewers of cinema, films mean the bringing into vision what lay so long latent in one’s consciousness but hidden from the eye.

The world of cinema moved from Phalke’s collective consciousness into the star system, perhaps the most narcissistic phase of cinema. Stars were people who were seen both as models to be followed as also the self of the viewer. However narcissist the star system has been, it has nonetheless created a sense of individuality which is located within and integrated to the society. The digital cinema takes away the collective from the narcissist and leaves the viewer revel in her abilities to move away from the herd of humanity instead of moving with it. In this, digital mode collapses the cinema into a private viewing; either in the premium lounge, or on the laptop, or the I Pad or even blown up on a wall to wall flat television inside the living rooms. The darkness of a public theatre helped to keep the world out of the viewer; the privacy of cinema viewing now keeps the viewer shielded from an audience. The main inspiration for Phalke was the calendar art, or the paintings of Raja Ravi Varma and the itinerant theatre of Maharashtra. In these visuals were invariably shared. The inspiration for digital cinema comes from advertisements and hence the cinema, much like the products which the digital mode projects, has also become objects for consumption.  Consumption is individualistic; it reduces when partaken, unlike shared culture, which proliferates when perceived as common concern.

With the arrival of digital cinema, we already feel that the relationship between cinema and the society is changing. To the best of my understanding, Phalke discovered a whole new social participation through cinema; cinema being something around which fragments of humanity could collect. Cinema produced common symbols, spoke of common causes. Digital cinema’s individuation, its atomization of the viewer and the extraction of the viewer from the audience appears to be a reversal of such trends. The television serials, shopping malls, live shows, mobile applications, SMS, games, Internet and the social media are rapidly taking way the charm of cinema. Cinema has given up trying to be all things to everybody; instead it has comfortably relegated itself into a niche of viewers pursuing highbrow culture. While the Rs 100 crore cinema like Son of Sardar and Jab Tak Hai Jaan still get made, yet there is nothing to show that such films stand in any better state than small budget cinema like Matru Ki Bijli Ka Mandola, or Kahaani or an English Vinglish. Indeed, in terms of introducing new discourses, new cognitive categories, a forte of cinema, the small budget films seem to do much better than the big budget ones.

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix:

DIGITAL   CINEMA’S VANGUARD
Company
Year of digital cinema launch
UFO Moviez
2005
Real Image (QUBE)
2005
Revenue   model Per   show fee for first two weeks, digital print licence fee for D-cinema,
advertising
Per   show fee, digital print licence fee, advertising or a combination thereof   including for D-cinema
E-cinema   screens (units) 2,770 2,374
D-cinema   screens (under scrabble) 410 133
Total   screens in India (units) 3,180 2,507
Revenues   (FY 2011, Rs crore) 110 110*
Proportion   from advertising (%) 33 12**
Profitable EBITDA   positive EBITDA   positive
Total   screen target (March 2012) 4,700 3,000
*Not   total revenues, only the one from digital cinema; **Net revenue; selling ad   rights only in Tamil Nadu so far Source: Companies

Source: business standard http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/how-digital-cinema-is-changingfilm-business/459438/

 

References:

Internet Sources

  1. http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-05-18/news-interviews/31750548_1_digital-cameras-digital-filmmaking-canon-5d
  2. “Digital Cinematography” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_cinematography.
  3. David Denby, “Has Hollywood Murdered the Movies?” in http://www.newrepublic.com/article/books-and-arts/magazine/107212/has-hollywood-murdered-the-movies.
  4. Peter Csathy, “Indie Film Makers and the Digital Dilemma.” In http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-csathy/digital-film-making-_b_1937489.html

 

Books:

  1. Bapu Watve. Dada Saheb Phalke. National Book Trust. Delhi.
  2. Nicholas Mirzoeff. The Visual Culture Reader. 2nd Edition. London and New York. 2001.
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About secondsaturn

Independent Scholar. Thinker and not doer. Too lazy to succeed. Indifferent towards career. But pursues excellence.
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