Tamizh Talkies: Art, our saviour
The writer is a former journalist who has worked in the film industry for several years and is passionate about movies, music and everything related to entertainment
We are passing through an extraordinary phase in human history. Every 24 hours on our hands feels like a blessing and gratitude levels have peaked or so it seems. The arts has become our sole go-to comfort zone, be it the art we consume or the art we create. Instagram is full of housekeeping tales of your favourite heroes and heroines, while Twitter is alive with songs and 'motivational anthems'. Tiktok however takes the cake for bringing out the full-on whacky side to superstars. And for the all ye faithful, there are Ramayana and Mahabharata reruns along with erstwhile serials and award shows on satellite TV to keep us glued after a day’s work of cooking and cleaning. Digital platforms are seeing an all-time high in subscriptions and YouTube is flooded with newer stuff. Amid all this, there is the concern for the films that are yet to see a theatre release. Will they release directly on a digital platform? Will these multi-crore starrers settle for a non-theatrical release?
More allied questions follow suit. What happens to new content then? What happens to films which are in various stages of completion? And then there is the voice which asks, “Who is even thinking about films when the primary need right now is to bring in essentials?” The whole world is in survival mode but don’t we still need the arts to survive? Arts and artistes keep us engaged and entertained, distracted at times when we need it the most, like now. There are no readymade answers to the questions posed earlier. The truth is, nobody knows or can predict with accuracy as to when theatres will open. Nobody knows if the FDFS crowd will embrace a big release as we have seen. Nobody knows when the next film’s shooting can commence and what new elements of healthcare has to be added to cast and crew contracts or what exact health safety measures need to be implemented on a film set. But we all know one thing: We. Need. Movies. We need the stories, we need our favourite artistes to ‘talk to us’. Be it on film or on a Whatsapp video, some form of engaging entertainment is the need of the hour. It always has been. We need our favourite writers and directors to write their best work during this phase, so it can be filmed when this is all over.
This phase can also be used to revisit our favourite films, to rediscover what we had liked in them when we first saw it. If that’s not your cup of tea, how about discovering a new foreign-language film or series? Or how about a compilation of songs or comedy scenes? A Twitter account recently had a quiz on Sivaji Ganesan films and I won a few rounds of tough questions with visual and audio clues. Speak of improv content. Then there are others who share a list of singers and ask you about the song where you discovered them first. There’s film trivia threads and new scene clips of actors and actresses that make you wonder how you ever missed that one scene. This is content curated by the common man, mind you. There are also live chats every film site has. Film stars are on your Insta feed, telling you their favourite films, favourite recipes or even dance moves.
Social media, used mainly to promote artistes and films, has become a place where art or entertainment is available at large. And what an array to choose from! There are original films across languages available in national and international streaming apps, there are classics, and then, there are also new releases. As a bonus, we also get a sneakpeek into the lives of actors which was hitherto meant only for their near and dear ones.
I dread to consider what will happen if something were to happen to our internet connectivity. Will we all become our own entertainers then? Will antaakshari take over our evenings ? Will writing our own poetry happen? Will we learn to look at the stars again, the ones in the sky? Philosophical musings apart, this churning of the human race has made us turn inward. I’m waiting for all my favourite writers and filmmakers to pen their best story or film yet and when this is all over, go shoot it. And then, when one day soon enough, the theatres should open and each director’s best film conceived and planned during quarantine, will see a release which will—or so I predict—give equal importance to both the big and the small-screen audience. Content will truly become king then, as the audience is now well-attuned to variety, and satisfying them will take the work of the very best minds. Unto this celluloid dream, oh universe, let my country (and this world) awake.