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Reel Awards: With Expanding Space For Web-Based Content, The Future of Entertainment Shows That Size Doesn’t Matter

Reel Award nominees Rajkummar Rao and Hansal Mehta talk about the bright future of web-based content and its ever expanding universe.

Shantanu David |

Updated:March 20, 2018, 3:15 PM IST
Reel Awards: With Expanding Space For Web-Based Content, The Future of Entertainment Shows That Size Doesn’t Matter
Image: A still from Bose Dead Or Alive
When was the last time you opened your laptop (or fired up your PC, if you’re particularly quaint) to watch something – whether a YouTube video, a TV show, movie, sport, anything. Unless you have a lot of time on your hands or schedule, chances are quite a while ago. It’s just so much more convenient and time-saving to get your daily fix of entertainment, sports, news, cat videos, and whatever else have you, right from your phone.

This is in direct contradiction to what was assumed would be the preferred aesthetic and medium to watch content on just a few years ago. Remember those Hallmark card-sized smartphones and tablets, their manufacturers celebrating every additional centimeter of display they managed to surpass the competition by? Those awkwardly-proportioned gadgets that exceeded the dimensions of our pockets? Wonder where they went. Apparently all those lad mags lied, as did their ladies bountiful: size doesn’t matter. And now that VR headsets can enhance that five, five-and-a-half inch wide visual into a wholly immersive sensorial experience; well.

2017 was a landmark year across the world for any number of reasons. There was a tectonic shift in global geopolitics as orange became the new black in the White House, while women around the world came together to break the silence and taboo surrounding sexual harassment and impropriety through the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements, just to mention a couple of highlights.

It was also the year that Indian-origin web-based content began streaming on screens all around, with both international and domestic streaming services betting big on the country’s vast and, till recently, untapped reserves of creativity and talent. The first ever News18 REEL Movie Awards have acknowledged this paradigm, with a distinct category for the best in web-based content, comprising digital shows produced by different platforms. The REEL Movie Awards are India’s first and only movie awards that recognize and laud New Age cinema and other visual styles of storytelling, as well as the people who tell them.

Ekta Kapoor’s streaming service, ALTBalaji, went all out, roping in thespian Rajkummar Rao and critically-acclaimed director Hansal Mehta, to produce the historical fiction series Bose: Dead/Alive, based on the life, and life beyond death, of freedom fighter Subhash Chandra Bose. Meanwhile, Amazon Prime India bet big on comedians, with three shows produced by the streaming service having been nominated for a Reel Award: Biswa Kalyan Rath’s Lakhon Mein Ek; Sumukhi Suresh’s Pushpavalli; and Going Viral Pvt Limited. TVF Play’s Bachelors Season 2 rounds up the nominees.

Given the investment of time, money and talent being now put into web-series, do the makers think that the way we consume media is changing? "I think the content being created has really evolved; Bose will be a fine example of that. I think after seeing this show, filmmakers will realize this is a beautiful way of story-telling. 'Sacred Games' is coming out, Kabir Khan is also involved in a digital content project; all our big directors are getting into this medium so I think things will really change, and we'll see some great content and stories being told," Rajkummar Rao had said, while speaking to News18 in a previous interview.

In the same interview, when asked about the perceived threat streaming services pose to media like TV and movies, Hansal Mehta was quite optimistic. "I think the entertainment space will be shared. No medium will get replaced, but they'll challenge each other. Like in the US, it was the TV networks that created great series like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, or more recently, The Night Of. Meanwhile Netflix is working with the likes of David Fincher and creating phenomenal stuff like Mindhunter. So nothing's going to suffer. They'll just challenge each other to greater heights," he said.

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