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Writers are the heroes now: Actor Anshuman Jha on the changing landscape of cinema

At a panel discussion at the Rajasthan International Film Festival (RIFF), actors and filmmakers discussed the ways in which film production is likely to change.

Our Correspondent

At the Open Forum held on the first day of the Rajasthan International Film Festival (RIFF) on 18 January, artistes, filmmakers and critics came together to discuss the changing landscape and future of cinema.

Moderated by film critic Ajit Rai, the panel included artistes Anshuman Jha, Tannishtha Chatterjee and Namita Lal, filmmaker and writer Deepak Mahaan and the director of the Korean Cultural Centre India in New Delhi, Kim Kum Pyoung.

Rai began on a rather ominous note, predicting that the trends for the future of cinema indicated a collapse of the star system and a closing of theatres within the next 10 years. But he also emphasized that in the years to come, content will be king.

According to Rai, this has been enabled largely by technological advancements because of which filmmaking has become more accessible and control has shifted from big studios into the hands of people. 

Anshuman Jha spoke of his love for the movies and echoed the moderator’s thoughts about the focus shifting from stars to writers, saying, “The writers are the heroes now.” But he differed on the idea that theatres would shut down.

Jha's love for the movies began when he watched Jurassic Park (1993) as a young boy. Recalling the audience reaction to that film, he said, “I don’t think that power and magic can happen even on a big-screen television. It can only happen when 500 people gasp together, smile together. It can only happen when we are in a community. That’s an experience that cannot be replicated, neither at home nor on a TV set.”

Jha admitted that the number of theatres may come down in the years to come but added, “I don’t like the idea of killing a theatrical release and bringing it straight to digital.”

Deepak Mahaan shared some statistics to put things in perspective for the audience. “The money earned by Apple stores is more than the world’s [total] film revenue," he said. "That gives you an incisive look into what OTT platforms are doing.”

Mahaan continued, “To me, it seems that theatres will become spectacle houses where films like Avengers (2012) or Baahubali (2015) will be screened, where people will go to enjoy the spectacle of visual art. Otherwise, people will be watching movies in their homes.”

Kim looked at the growing popularity of Korean cinema across the world saying cinema needs to be seen as a mutual relationship and we need to learn from each other.

Namita Lal

Actress Namita Lal, whose films Lihaaf (2020) and Oxygen (2020) are being screened at the festival, spoke of some significant trends and emphasized some of the ways in which the changes have had an impact on the creative workforce in the industry. “I’m very excited about the changes in the industry because it gives opportunities to a wide range of actors,” she said, adding that there is more content out there now as technology has reduced the speed of filmmaking, which enables a lot more people to tell their stories in a shorter span of time.

As a former banker, she also took a hard look at film budgets and predicted that filmmakers would have to tighten budgets in order to recover their costs and continue to make movies.

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Rajasthan International Film Festival