Culture is the bedrock of human psychological makeup. Apart from forming attitudes, beliefs and even preferences, culture gives a person an identity, a sense of belonging. Humans as social beings have culture as their default settings as they explore the world and try to make sense of it.
One of the biggest price paid for globalization, perhaps bigger even than the financial price, is the erosion of culture and a sense of inferiority. This issue has been raised time and again with the advent of globalization and opening up of economies and has been best surmised by MacBride report of UNESCO, called Many Voices, One World.
The problem of cultural erosion is global. The world is suffering from it. Recently when Greenland’s Prime Minister Kim Kielsen, attended a landmark ceremony in Brussels wearing the nation’s traditional outfit, the Greenlandic anorak, many thought that he was dressed in a ‘hoodie’ and many took offence. Many even poked fun at the wardrobe disaster of Prime Minister. In India, wearing a ‘Kurta’ undoubtedly makes one a ‘Revolutionary’ ‘ Poet’ ‘Politician’ or all.
The shift in people’s preferences is not just a social phenomenon. It has deep economic reverberations too. The indigenous industries not only suffer because of this but are trapped in a hopeless struggle to beat the west ( read US) at its own game. They face the choice between churning out cheap rip-offs of western products or shutting shop.
An aping of the foreign culture has strong implications for the man on people too. For example, the rootless, clueless protagonists of the Indian authors abroad like Jhumpa Lahiri are not just figments of their creator’s imagination but as flesh and bone as the Tuesday-Thursday vegetarian buffs of Hollywood and McDonald’s.
The amount of western culture an average urban Indian young adult consumes in the form of movies, clothes, literature, even food is more than the amount ever consumed by his/her predecessors. Given the situation, it is no surprise that today’s India is divided right in two. One ready to bust out of the closet, kissing, smooching, merry making on the roads and the other ready to beat them back into the very closets they came out from, invoking gods of various attributes.
Blindly aping things has never been the way to develop or self actualize. Global exchange of ideas is a mutual process. As the French philosopher, Albert Camus has said, “Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” the world today needs to understand cooperation.
As long as the global village has just one western voice, there will not be equality and prosperity for all. The two hemispheres of the planet have to work in collaboration like the two hemispheres of the brain to keep the body of humanity working just fine.
Ask anyone in Bollywood, and you would probably get the same reply on Ayushmann Khurrana. When it comes to this versatile actor for entertainment, picture abhi baaki hai.
Ayushmann goes into 2020 with seven straight successes spread over the past few years, ranging from hits to superhits. 2019 saw one superhit, “Dream Girl”, and two hits, “Article 15” and “Bala”. The year continued a glorious run that has also comprised “Bareilly Ki Barfi”, “Shubh Mangal Saavdhan”, “Andhadhun” and “Badhai Ho”.
Ayushmann has brought an important change into the Hindi film industry. He has proved that a successful star need not compromise on quality of his cinema and performances in order to entertain and reach out to maximum people and ensure hits at the box-office.
In 2020, he has “Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan” coming up first. The comedy on homosexuality is spin-off of his 2017 hit “Shubh Mangal Saavdhan”, and is directed by Hitesh Kewalya.
His other film in 2020 as of now is “Gulabo Sitabo”. The film stars Amitabh Bachchan with him for the first time, and his directed by Shoojit Sircar, who brought him into Bollywood with the brilliant “Vicky Donor” in 2012. The film is a tongue-in-cheek account of the daily struggles of the common man, using the folk art of puppetry.
When it comes to Ayushmann, the success we have seen so far just seems like a preparatory phase in his bid to move to the level of glory. The actor’s USP has been setting off disruption in whatever he does – with release patterns, the roles he chooses and the projects he opts for. In 2020, he will continue reorganising the definition of Bollywood stardom with his quirky roles, as his line-up of the year seems to underline.
In the 12 months coming up, Ayushmann will establish Bollywood’s new definition of superstardom – one that banks on content and characters and has nothing to do with glamour and six packs, unlike in the past.
DEEPIKA PADUKONE’S CHHAPAAK TURN
At the title song launch of her new film “Chhapaak”, Deepika Padukone insisted the film, an unflinching account of an acid attack survivor, was not really a risk for a top mainstream star like her.
She was probably understating facts. For one, not many superstar heroines in Bollywood have ever stepped out of their comfort zone of perfection to attempt such a drastic makeover, and portray such a grotesque face of realism.
From her ejhakaas’ gyrations in “Lovely” to the “Chhapaak” act in her upcoming release is a radical image overhaul for Deepika.
Irrespective of its box-office show, the Meghna Gulzar film will radically reorganise how mainstream Hindi cinema imagines its leading lady. More importantly, it also marks a progression for the leading lady as an entrepreneur. With this film, after all, Deepika, along with Meghna, has turned producer. While the Hindi film heroine turning to filmmaking is not new, the absolutely unconventional “Chhapaak” signals a very special turn.
The film shows that the Bollywood heroine has somewhere managed to find her feet firmly on the ground now, in the (still) male-dominated Hindi film industry after all these decades. She is now finally ready to finally tell the stories that she wants to, on her own accord and not driven by the need to get into Bollywood power lists or make a quick moolah.
The Bollywood heroine has been getting a few noteworthy solid roles in recent years. With a strong role like “Chhapaak”, Deepika makes a case for taking the image of the mainstream heroine beyond body beautiful, while imagining heroine-oriented scripts.
This is important to understand in the Bollywood context, where the biggest hits are still about hunky heroes waging a CGI-loaded formulaic war of machismo. Maybe, “Chhapaak” cannot change that reality overnight, but the fact that the film has become a talking point even before release shows Deepika Padukone has made a start somewhere with her debut production assignment in mainstream Bollywood cinema.
THE SOCIAL MEDIA SUPERSTARS
Superstardom is no longer just about box-office success. Instagram and Twitter have created a breed of stars such as Priyanka-Nick, Sonam Kapoor and Sonakshi Sinha who manage to keep wooing fans on a daily basis despite the fact that they actually haven’t had much of real success at the box-office in a while.
Almost every celebrity uses social media to promote their films, but many use the platform to share a glimpse of their personal lives among fans. Even the biggest superstars such as Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar today owe a significant part of their popularity to social media. From sharing fitness videos to giving a sneak peek into their family life and expressing love for everyone from close ones to fans, our stars are more visible on the social media screens than the big screen.
Not only this, many celebrities have created personal applications or Youtube channels in order to develop a personal touch with fans. Alia Bhatt, Kartik Aaryan, Jacqueline Fernandes and Shilpa Shetty are among many others who have their own YouTube channels on which they can be seen chronicling their daily routine activities and other interesting events. Shah Rukh Khan may not have had a release in over a year now, but the media-savvy superstar intelligently uses social media to remain the eternal newsmaker. Recently, he conducted an ‘ask me anything’ session on Twitter wherein he was seen responding to his fans’ queries.
Younger actors – especially small screen stars who arrive in the industry from outside — have often said that their getting work these days depends a lot on their social media presence, that unless you are active on Twitter and Instagram, you often stand to lose out on roles. Clearly, being an actor is no longer merely about acting or glamour anymore, in the era of cyber frenzy!
THE DIGITAL ENTERTAINERS
From Netflix placing big bets on India, to Amazon Studio strengthening its slate and foraying big screen production, to the much-anticipated launch of Disney Plus in India, 2020 will be a critical year for service providers, with the OTT platforms turning into a battleground for entertainment.
The various players who are vying for supremacy in the area of digital entertainment are not only looking to stealing the march on each other, in the process they are also redefining how entertainment is served to the consumer.
The digital platforms, after all, are adding star power by roping in veteran A-list stars. No longer are original web shows and films only about actors who struggle to get a break in films. Hosting digital concerts with big names attached to such gigs, bringing movies onto the streaming services within a few months of theatrical release and reviving cancelled shows on fan demand – all of these have helped OTT platforms set up an all-encompassing entertainment space of their own.
In fact, internationally, the digital platform has also started dictating the feature filmmaking process. Amazon and Netflix are both into producing full-fledged feature films. The logic is that gradually, these digital platforms hope to wean away the lion’s share of big screen audiences, and hence they want to dictate content of cinema, too, so that the content remains compatible for OTT as well. This year, Netflix and Amazon will continue making big-budget movies and taking them to the big screen, with the trend expected to come to India soon.
In 2019, OTT platforms paved a ‘digital’ route to the future with diverse and intriguing content, and 2020 will be a year to take big leaps.
Netflix will be pumping in Rs 3000 crore in original shows and films specifically made in India. Amazon Prime started the year with a bang by announcing Kabir Khan’s ambitious project “The Forgotten Army: Azaadi Ke Liye”. Hotstar crossed 400 million downloads, and registered double growth in installs in 2019, and addition of Disney Plus library this year will up the numbers, turning around the whole streaming game in India.
It is evident that OTT platforms will continue to change the rules and create new ways of entertainment. But the question is how soon before it changes the TV and film industries of India?
HOLLYWOOD’S FEMALE SUPERHEROES
It’s going to be the year of female superheroes. The majority of superhero movies in 2020 will narrate stories of female superheroes, or at least have very strong female superhero characters, giving a feminist touch to the superhero universe.
The year will start with actress Margot Robbie coming back as Harley Quinn in “Birds Of Prey”. She will come with her gang Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s huntress, Jurnee Smollett-Bell’s Black Canary, and Rosie Perez’s detective Renee Montoya.
Marvel Studios’ “Black Widow” will also be redefining the superhero universe with women power in focus. The film will bring back Scarlett Johansson in the avatar of Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow as she traces her past to solve the puzzle of her life, in her first solo adventure as a superhero. It marks the beginning of Marvel’s Phase 4. The film is slated to release in India on April 30, 2020 — a day before its release in the US.
Actress Gal Gadot will also be back as Wonder Woman with edgier action for a new battle with new villains. The much-awaited “Wonder Woman 1984”, a sequel of the megahit 2017 DC film, is one of the most anticipated films of 2020, as it is dubbed to start a “new era of wonder”.
Then the superhero universe will be super-powered with “The Eternals”, with Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, and Gemma Chan coming together to tell a tale about super-powered beings The Celestials and their villainous adversaries The Deviants in a war set millions of years ago.
It will not only be the year for women in front of the camera, but behind the camera as well. All the major superhero movies have been directed by women — “Birds of Prey” by Cathy Yan, “Black Widow” by Cate Shortland, “Wonder Woman 1984” by Patty Jenkins and “The Eternals” by Chloe Zhao.
There’s also “Mulan” — a story of a warrior woman, Maisie Williams’ horror film “The New Mutants” which is set in the superhero genre and Milla Jovovich’s fantasy action thriller “Monster Hunter”. (IANS)