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The Future of CINEMA

Pritha Chakrabarti

It was the eve of January 14, 2023, and the International League T20 had just been inaugurated at Dubai’s International Stadium by Dubai’s Brand Ambassador & megastar Shah Rukh Khan. Meanwhile, at Burj Khalifa, a crowd had gathered, and the party was set for the Mehmaan Navazi of the Pathaan star as the screens of the iconic architectural marvel Jhoom-ed away to the trailer of the upcoming film. With outstretched hands and dimpled smile, the star won the hearts of millions of his followers who swayed and danced to the tunes of Jhoome Jo Pathan.

But this mehfil is nothing new, with the star and the industry he represents in the Middle East and the world, Bollywood, having an unprecedented following in this part of the world. What started as an occasional liaison through standalone theatre in the 1960s UAE with Satyen Bose’s Dosti (1964) among others, evolved into a full-fledged global market tie when the theatres in Saudi Arabia reopened after a 35-year long ban on cinema in 2018. From Rajnikanth’s Kaala to Akshay Kumar’s Gold, the entire Middle Eastern population has unanimously devoted their love and heart to Bollywood, and now with cinemas from South Indian film industry making global waves, also to the Indian popular film industry.

When Indian Cinema got the industry status in 2002, it began a process of corporatization of the film industry that required a record number of trained and educated young professionals to enter the workforce from its writers’ room to its marketing department, from costume departments to choreographers, from line producers to sound designers. What was a largely informal labor sector for nearly a century started evolving into a global multinational set-up by the turn of the millennium.

Today with Reliance Entertainment producing Hollywood pictures on one hand and Disney taking over UTV on the other, the film industry has become a prime channel of international flow of capital. Meanwhile, ‘Barbenheimmer’ remains a box office favorite in India while RRR wins hearts and laurels at the Cannes and Oscars.

But amidst all of this, there has been one more development. With India’s entertainment industry clocking in a steady growth since the temporary Covid-induced setback in 2020, the media and entertainment sector in India is projected to reach 4.30 lac crore INR revenue by 2026 with a CAGR of 8.8%, as per a report by PwC, of which OTT alone is to reach 21,032Cr INR in 2026.

This translates to a high demand for workforce adept in all aspects of filmmaking from screenplay writing, direction and acting to cinematography and post-production. While the traditional public film schools like FTII
and SRFTII continue to serve this demand in their limited capacity, it is the new age global film schools that are coming to the rescue of the industry.

Dhiraj Singh, Associate Dean, Dadasaheb Phalke International Film School, MIT World Peace University, Pune explains: “The scope of the film and the larger audiovisual industry is immense.

Today filmmaking skills are not only required by the film industry but also the larger media industry. As every second piece of content on our phones turns audiovisual in nature, the demand for directors, cinematographers, editors, and actors increases by the day. We have even had students getting hired as editors by leading corporate houses running EdTech verticals, just as many find employment in the branding and advertising domain as every company wants to communicate their story in the audiovisual format. If coding was the skill currency last season, it is filmmaking now!

Moreover, with the average age of the workforce in India going down each year, the industry cannot wait for a student to do their ‘safety’ degree before hitting the film school for their masters. “It is young blood that the industry wants,” Singh says, refuting that filmmaking is not a ‘secure’ degree. While not denying that STEM courses fetch higher pay packages for some students, Singh reiterates that it is only the best and the brightest who are getting those placements. “A mediocre film
professional with basic skills in direction, editing, acting, earns no less if not more than a mediocre IT professional at the fresher level,” Singh informs.

All said and done, filmmaking remains a dream career for many and while there are multiple practical career opportunities that the skill set of a filmmaker can fetch, there is nothing stopping them from pursuing their passion. Just as an IT worker dream of making her own app while doing her 9-5 jobs, the path of making that one film that breaks the box office records or gets one to the Golden Globe red carpet is not necessarily one of ‘struggle’ but comes with its own kursi ki peti today.

Director of Thackeray, Rannbazaar, and Rege, Abhijit Panse agrees: “OTT has been a huge boost for filmmakers today. Gone are the days when one had to ‘struggle’ for years before getting that one ‘break.’

Every week, a new OTT platform is launched, and we have more demand than supply of trained film professionals to meet the demands of audio-visual content industry. New formats of telling stories are emerging everyday and it is the most exciting time for a filmmaker!”

This rise in demand for film education has brought led to universities across India beginning film courses.

However not every place the advantage of being Located close to India’s Tinsel Town—Mumbai. Which is why Dadasaheb Phalke International Film School uniquely fills a gap in film education especially for those seeking undergraduate courses.

Its 4-year Bachelors (Hons.) degree in filmmaking is based on the National Education Policy 2020 and gives students a much-needed flexibility to explore and pursue their dreams.

The author has a PhD in Cultural Studies and is an Assistant Professor at Dr. Vishwanath Karad MIT World Peace University, Pune, India. Her areas of research include Indian Film and Media Studies.

Disclaimer: These are the personal opinions of the author.

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