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Bollywood's Age of Disruptors

Sunday - September 22, 2019 9:24 am , Category : ENTERTAINMENT
New Delhi, Sep 22 (IANS) Every generation defines the entertainment it gets. As we get ready to enter the third decade of the 2000s, we look ahead at an unprecedented era in Bollywood that is at the same time exciting and unpredictable, much like the audience it caters to.
Things have been rapidly changing in the Hindi film industry over the past few years, and the metamorphosis that plots, themes and characters has been seeing will, in turn, continue to boost the evolution process of mainstream Bollywood. In turn, it will continue to redefine how we as an audience perceive entertainment.
Take a shot at crystalball-gazing over what course Bollywood is going to take over the next few years, and you realise most of the new trends that will continue to rule in the near future are already here upon us. Our heroes have changed. Heroines that serve as mere eye candy are a thing of the past, even in hero-centric films.
Importantly, the purview of visual entertainment has moved beyond cinema and television. The digital space is now seriously emerging as competition for the big screen, with many top stars and filmmakers happily signing up in the web series bandwagon.
Come to think of it, the Internet and the brand of entertainment it serves has also influenced other forms of entertainment. Even television, traditionally the most over-the-top medium when it comes to Hindi entertainment, is quietly learning to move with the times.
The more obvious change, of course, has happened in the Bollywood brand of entertainment cinema. We hardly ever make the masala movie anymore, and no one has been affected more by this development than the hero, for years the most important person of any production.
An important thing has happened to the Bollywood hero over the recent past, and the ideas will only be consolidated over the next few years. He has been brought down to earth. Herosim identifies with realism now, and that's something which will only benefit his stature.
Today, the hero is as important as any other character in a script now. Even hero-centric projects outline other characters equally importantly. Off camera, the male star does continue to reign in terms of remuneration and calling the shots, but that is changing, too. In films where the heroine is the protagonist, the trend of giving her top billing (and top paycheque if you are Kangana Ranaut or Deepika Padukone) is increasingly common.
The situation has facilitated the advent of a breed of disruptors among Bollywood heroes – specifically, Ayushmann Khurrana, Ranveer Singh and Vicky Kaushal. These are actors who chose to move away from the conventional hero's image and yet thrived critically and commercially.
The fact that disrupting the traditional image of the hero is turning out to be a lucrative deal is underlined by the choices of even an established superstar like Akshay Kumar.
The hero will continue to be human over the next few years, with the likes of Ayushmann, Vicky and Ranveer only growing in stature.
In turn, that can only help the heroine. If the heroine-oriented film has grown from strength to strength lately, it is now time to move beyond the first wave, where the focus was merely on securing lead roles for the heroine. With characters such as the ones they portray in films such as "Judgementall Hai Kya", "The Girl On The Train", "Panga" or "Chhapaak", actress will continue to underline how the realistic heroine is being redefined across shades.
None of it would perhaps have been possible without the advent of OTT. In less than half a decade, the digital platforms of entertainment have altered the way we consume entertainment. OTT is clearly threatening to overshadow the television space when it comes to rights of feature films. Although the small screen is still the chosen stop for most Bollywood producers when it comes to taking their movies to the couch potato, OTT rights are fast catching up with satellite rights.
There's more than just movie rights, of course, that proves why OTT could fast overtake television. If censorship has made screens big and small wary, its lack of control over the OTT space has come as a blessing for that medium.
Lack of censorship has meant free flow of sex and crime into the digital space. While depiction on sex is seeing guarded dissemination the world over, crime has found a great space for exploration across OTT brands. Netflix, Prime, Hotstar to Zee5, ALTBalaji, Voot, Eros. The most popular shows on almost all these OTT platforms are invariably the ones that explore forbidden tales of crime, sin and lawlessness, as the big or small screen would never allow them. Crime should continue to find ample scope for exploration in the digital space over the next years, till trends change.
The funny thing about showbiz, though, is that there is never a constant formula that works. So, despite the forward-looking move towards success of OTT as well as cinema, television will continue to somehow find its space for survival. The TV scene is not as sunny as it used to be for decades, when it enjoys the automatic viewership of a captive audience. It is not just the urban upwardly mobile who is forsaking the idiot box to watch Netflix or Prime on the mobile or the laptop. With mobile plans getting cheaper by the day and with OTT brands announcing lucrative deals every other day, digital entertainment is gradually foraying into smalltown India, too. The captive audience that watched Ekta Kapoor's soaps is slowly opting for Ekta Kapoor's ALTBalaji bold sagas.
Still, there is some time for "Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai" to become history. Television will survive – for now, if only because people like to have something running in front of their eyes in the living room, at the click of a remote button. proves that the good old soap isnt going anywhere. The success of a few long running soaps lately has shown if the plot is flexible enough to imbibe changing taste and if the right overhaul of star cast is done from time to time, the shrill melodrama od the small screen can somehow thrive, despite the diminishing strength of television as a medium overall.

--IANS vnc/in