The history of filmmaking stands witness to the daunting task entrusted to a filmmaker: Making a movie that successfully delivers both artistically and commercially. Filmmakers have always had to deal with creative challenges at the hands of technology. Whether it was producing movies without sound, in the past, or whether it is tackling evolving ways of content consumption in the digital era; a filmmaker has his work cut-out for him.

But, what exactly are these challenges?

To begin with, popular streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, etc. are the harbingers of the here-to-stay digital age of content consumption. They provide a host of enticing features such as convenience, flexibility for content consumption on either laptops, smart phones or TV. This also gives control to the viewer to decide on the entry, exit and return to such platforms. Along with ease-of-use, these platforms score big on their library of quality content that includes a host of popular TV shows, Bollywood and Hollywood movies as well as strong regional content. And this is just the tip of the iceberg, since these platforms also ace when it comes to producing original content. All of this variety of binge-worthy content is available at a single tap of a button, from the comfort of your home.

For a commercial Bollywood filmmaker, if there’s a world of streaming content to compete with on one hand, on the other there’s the steady growth of audience preferences for quality regional and global cinema. With increased exposure to content from around the globe, audiences’ tastes and preferences are also undergoing a drastic change. Plus, they have access to social media where they express their views/ reviews of movies.This gives the word-of-mouth a whole new meaning, making it a potent tool that can make or break a movie.

The digital era has also ushered us in times where movies are leaked online before theatrical releases, unnecessary and damaging controversies plaque filmmakers, while ticket prices continue to soar. These factors continue to push audiences away from theatres towards other avenues of entertainment.

So, how does a fi lmmaker stay ahead of the curve in face of such major challenges. The trick here, I believe, is to embrace the change instead of resisting it. These obstacles also motivate us to push the envelope and deliver better than the best as fi lmmakers. Just as foreign fi lms are creating their mark in the country, the foreign markets have opened-up for us to compete in, as well! And competing at a global level to produce high-quality content not only means best of packaging but also superlative content.

And how do we create world class content? By empowering our writers. Apart from identifying the diverse audiences’ requirements, one of the key indispensable factor is effective writing that will be the foundation to build quality content.

Stories and characters that captivate the audiences and move them emotionally, establish an instant connect.Such strong reactions from the audience can only be brought forth through skilled, superlative writing/content. In addition to that, the treatment style needs to be fresh and innovative. Song and dance routines with hundreds of co-ordinated background dancers breaking the fl ow of the narrative, unrealistic dialogues or stereotypical roles instead of real, layered characters, clichéd storylines, etc. are old-school methods that are redundant in today’s times.

Besides scripts, budgets fail. Budget allocation is extremely crucial and often a deciding factor in the fate of a film. A film of a massive scale like Baahubali justifies a massive budget and a smaller budget for a smaller film like Newton, makes sense. Both these movies are hugely successful. A great storyline should be backed by enthralling and a gripping storytelling style as well as well-structured production. If we can achieve technical finesse in these key areas, we have the potential to become unstoppable and a prominent player in the world of entertainment.

In today’s day and age, audience is open to experimental albeit “good” content. Where realism in cinema is being applauded with hard hitting films like ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ or ‘Ghazi Attack,’ the magical and fantasy-fuelled escapist world of a Baahubali is also being enthusiastically accepted.Tickets may be expensive but we can make it a full paisa vasool experience for the audience. To put it in a nutshell, the world of entertaining cinema is based on three factors: Content, content and content.

Apoorva Mehta is the CEO of Dharma Productions

supercinemaFeaturesBollywood Trade Magazine