TV ratings history: a snapshot

August 7, 2008 by

Given the centrality of the ratings discourse to the everyday workings of the television industry in India today, I find it a bit surprising that we do not have a good historical account of the development of the ratings business. We’ve all heard of IMRB, TAM, and of course, the growing influence of Nielsen in the Indian market. While these large market research companies dominate the scene today, the practice of rating the popularity and viewership of television programs was kicked off by a trade magazine called TV and Video World.

The magazine was run out of a small office in Nariman Point in south Bombay, and was the only trade magazine that covered the development of television and video. I discovered this magazine when browsing through the stacks at the Memorial library in UW-Madison a few years ago, and managed to go through them again this past May. Anyhow, here’s the snapshot:

Brit-Asians and Bollywood

July 24, 2008 by

In Playing to the World’s Biggest Audience, Michael Curtin asks why, how, and under what circumstances a city, say Mumbai, becomes a global media capital? In examining the emergence of Hong Kong as a powerful media capital, Curtin asks us to pay attention to “trajectories of creative migration” (among other variables, of course). It is quite easy to see how this has shaped Mumbai as well – for over a century now, the migration of actors, directors, music directors, playback singers, costume designers, choreographers, and a range of other creative and technical personnel to Mumbai has, without doubt, been central to the city’s status as a media capital in India. The question that interests me is, what new trajectories of creative migration are being plotted as the Bombay film industry seeks to “globalize” and reimagine itself as Bollywood?

The answer is rather easy to locate: the (first world) desi diaspora. An article in Mint focuses attention on the growing number of Brit-Asians who are turning to Bollywood as a potential career path instead of struggling to break into the European or American creative sectors (link). With the exception of the Goodness Gracious Me trio, and indie artists like Hanif Kureishi, the record of Brit-Asians succeeding in British media is rather abysmal. Little surprise, especially given that these second/third-generation desis have grown up watching Bollywood films (and perhaps singing and dancing at community/college events), that they are signing up to train at institutes such as the one Anupam Kher has set up (story here).

Fists clenched, face contorted, the woman berates her best friend with accusations: How could she steal her boyfriend and then lie about it? A waistcoat thrown over her green kameez, she paces the floor in rage. Dressed in jeans and high heels, the younger woman weakly protests her innocence.

The scene, performed by two aspiring actors, unfolds not in India’s film hub of Bollywood but in Ealing, west London, as part of the first batch of auditions at the UK arm of Actor Prepares, a school run by actor Anupam Kher. The actors are in their 20s: Pirah Palijo, 28, is a lawyer from Karachi, Pakistan, and now lives in London, while her counterpart Seetal Linbachia, 23, was born and raised in London, and works as a hairdresser in her father’s salon. The duo represent a growing number of British Asians who are looking outward and hitching their acting careers to opportunities in the rapidly expanding Indian film industry.
To be sure, this is a welcome development and one hopes that such initiatives will, if only slowly, make it easier for actors without any family connections to enter the film industry. At the same time, we do need to recognize that this particular trajectory has rather high entry costs (financial and cultural capital) and might end up overpowering other, older trajectories and life-worlds (in ways similar to transitions in the domain of casting extras or those who used to work in costume design – see this).

Labor and Reality TV

July 21, 2008 by

Over the past few weeks, media outlets in India have focused considerable attention on the pressures that reality show contestants face. What began as an examination of the case of Shinjini Sen Gupta, a contestant who is now under treatment for severe depression that is being linked to the harsh comments she received from the show’s judges, has now drawn in a range of opinions and even a call from Renuka Chaudhury, Union Minister for Women and Child Welfare, to establish norms and regulations for reality TV programming (link).

In the process, comparisons are being made to other television cultures such as the U.S. and the U.K., and the very idea of “participation” in a reality show is being re-framed as “labor.” While I don’t think this move is necessary, there is no doubt that the issues are important enough to ask parents and industry professionals to take a step back and consider how children are (or not) dealing with a range of physical and emotional pressures. But in this post, I want to turn our attention to another, largely neglected site of “labor” in the world of reality TV: the studio audience.

In Mumbai, I had an opportunity to spend some time on the sets of an immensely popular reality TV program (a singing talent show). I was able to attend rehearsals one afternoon and return the next day when two episodes were shot (in a studio in Film City). Day one in particular was a wonderful learning experience for me since I was able to walk around and observe every step of the process: music arrangement with the band, song and stage rehearsal, choreography, camera and lighting rehearsal, the “reality bits” in which contestants talk about their experiences and each other, and stage design. The one aspect that took me by surprise, however, was the management of the studio audience.

As with other several other reality shows, this one also employs an audience coordinator whose job is to ensure there is a lively and energetic studio audience. For any given episode, the studio audience includes a number of friends and relatives of the contestants (say 30-40 people, seated to the right of the contestants) and about 100 other high-school/college-age boys and girls who occupy the stands on either side of the stage. On the day of the shoot, these audience members begin lining up outside the studio nearly two hours in advance and are asked to enter the studio 30-40 minutes before the contestants and judges take their seats.

And for the next 20 minutes or so, the director of the show, with the help of the audience coordinator, asks these audience members to perform for the camera: clap for 2 minutes; clap, hoot and whistle for 2 minutes; stand up and cheer for 2 minutes; dance to three different songs, and so on. They do all this during the shoot as well. For a day’s labor, they get lunch and are paid 200-300 rupees (varies from one who to another). It was, quite frankly, not that easy to begin thinking about the studio audience as wage labor.

I was also surprised to observe the manner in which these audience members were being treated by the audience coordinator and other production staff. I learned from the cameraman sitting next to me that these audience members were regulars at Film City – these are kids who skip school/college and often hang out at Film City to look for these day-long gigs. And it was apparent that the audience coordinator had come to know some of them – every 5 minutes or so, he would yell and swear – “you #$*&er in the black cap, I know you – stop talking/remain standing/I won’t let you back in here/one tight slap is what you need” – and so on. The audience members, in turn, seemed to know how far they could push the audience coordinator and would pipe down at the right moments and do exactly as they were told. In between all this, the director would chime in every now and then to thank and commend the audience members on how well they were doing and how central they were to the show’s success.

The day I attended, there were 5 contestants remaining and that meant each episode took about 3-3.5 hours to shoot. With the exception of an hour-long lunch break, these audience members were on their feet, performing the role of enthusiastic fans. And because they wouldn’t get paid until the end of the day, it didn’t make sense for anyone to leave after lunch. Besides, I’m sure they know that they could be replaced rather easily.

To be clear, these audience members are not your typical media consumers/fans who might go on a tour of a film/TV set and witness the process of media production. At the same time, I did notice that during the shoot, these audience members were participating very enthusiastically without much prodding from the audience coordinator. It was evident that they were regulars on the set (I don’t know how many watch the show when it airs) and were rooting for their favorite contestant. Would it be fair, then, to suggest that these youth are also fans of the show? Perhaps not, considering that they serve as audiences on many different television shows and there is no reason to assume any loyal fandom here. Are they, then, fans of television in general who simply enjoy being a part of the production process (with some pocket money thrown in)?

From Mumbai

June 23, 2008 by

I’ve been traveling in India this past month – Bangalore for a week, then Delhi, and I’m now in Mumbai. While I was occupied with family-stuff in Bangalore and Delhi, my time in Mumbai is devoted to hanging out and conducting interviews with a range of professionals in film, television and new media companies. I’ve been here a week now and there is already much I need to chronicle and write about.

Back in 2005, I spent a few months in Mumbai conducting fieldwork towards my dissertation. So I do know the city, but this time around, my experience of the city is completely different. I am staying in Colaba, right next to Regal cinema (I was in Chembur the last time), and within walking distance of some fantastic galleries and stores. But most important, my dear friend Parmesh is in the city and is showing me a fantastic time.

So far, I’ve been to a studio where I was able to hang out and osberve a meeting between an art director and a global fashion magazine that has signed on as a major sponsor, brunch at Basilico (apparently run by a gangster’s son) and Not Just Jazz By the Bay, a Raghu Rai exhibit at the National Gallery of Modern Art, and the launch party of Amitav Ghosh’s latest novel (Sea of Poppies) at The Oberoi! And yes, I am getting work done as well :) I’m off in a couple of hours to Mehboob Studio in Bandra to meet an asst director and of course, hang out and observe the shoot in progress.

I’ll do my best to write a few posts over the next few days. If not, expect something new here after the 15th of July.

A Corner of the Digital Bazaar: YouTube India

May 27, 2008 by

On May 7, 2008, YouTube announced the launch of another “localized” version – YouTube India. What’s the difference? According to press releases and reports, YouTube India is different in that it will: (a) feature a localized home page, and (b) discover and highlight videos popular and relevant in the Indian context. As Sakina Arsiwala, international manager of YouTube, put it, “this site contains all the videos found on YouTube’s global site, except we’ve applied an “Indian lens” to the content, meaning that the video charts you see reflect what Indians are watching now, the featured videos are programmed to cater to an Indian audience, and we’ve signed up dozens of local partners who are proud to distribute their content through YouTube.”

Further, given the popularity of YouTube’s global (read American) site – YouTube has 5 million unique users in India, and has added 200,000 news users every month from India last year – there is no doubt that other India-specific sites such as iShare, meravideo, videodubba, etc. will face stiff competition over the coming months. Given its cachet, YouTube has already managed to strike deals with a number of prominent film and television production companies in India and ensured that YouTube.co.in will be the site where sought-after content will be available.

At first glance, this seems rather familiar and in fact, brings to mind an earlier moment of “localization” – the mid-1990s when television channels like MTV and Channel [V] went about fashioning Indian avatars in order to make their content/programming more relevant to audiences and advertisers within India (Def Leppard and Guns ‘n Roses could not, at the end of the day, help MTV attract youth across the country). While this is a useful parallel to draw, there are some important differences to note. I would argue that the launch of YouTube India highlights two major struggles in the Indian digital bazaar and, more importantly, signals a shift in the way we think about localization and national communities.

1. YouTube.co.in: A “Trans-national community”

The idea of a “national community,” as we know, has always been central to the workings of film and television industries around the world. In the Indian context, the Bombay film industry has always positioned itself as speaking to and for a national community and so have several major television networks. Even today, emerging networks such as NDTV seek to position themselves as catering to a national community (albeit one that includes diasporic audiences – see this). We also know that this has always been a difficult task for film and television industries. Given that the Internet allows us to transgress local and national boundaries with even greater ease, how do we go about drawing national boundaries around YouTube or, more broadly, online communities that cohere around an astonishing range of videos? This is the problem that India-specific sites continue to struggle with. Sites like meravideo.com, aapkavideo.com, and videodubba.com defined themselves as national (and nationalist, in some cases) alternatives, in opposition to a global YouTube.

YouTube, however, has managed to position YouTube-India as a site where Indian audiences get to participate in the ongoing production of a global online video community and not just in a narrowly defined national space. In fact, when you visit youtube.co.in, there is nothing on the front page that suggests that the site is a “local” or “regional” version of a more global YouTube.

2. Making money in the bazaar

The second major problem that new media companies in India (and other comparable markets like Brazil) continue to struggle with is monetization. Internet use and broadband penetration remains low compared to other parts of the world and as a consequence, Internet advertising has not emerged as a key component of business models for new media initiatives (in 2007-08, Internet advertising in India was estimated at Rs. 225 crores/Rs. 2.25 billion). Here, the fact that YouTube’s India strategy is part of Google India’s larger ambitions represents a major advantage over competitors.

Instead of focusing on a short-term goal of generating advertising revenues, Google India executives have decided to perform the role of consultants who will, over the next 5-10 years, work closely with advertising and marketing agencies and advise media professionals on how online advertising can become a major element of their media planning. As Shailesh Rao, managing director of Google India, explained, the company has already set up five “verticals” (financial services, local and classifieds, travel, media & entertainment, and technology & health communication) with experts who will “educate, train and guide businesses to leverage the most out of online advertising.” It is this evangelizing mission that may, in the long run, prove to be the most important dimension of YouTube’s localization.

Beyond Filmy Music

May 16, 2008 by

The latest issue of Time Out Mumbai takes an in-depth look at how a range of musicians in India are taking advantage of a “democratised playing field:”

As the big music labels continue to complain that the internet is killing the music business, independent record companies and artists are reaping the benefits of a democratised playing field. Who needs a studio when you’ve got Fruity Loops on your computer? Who needs MTV when you’ve got YouTube? Who needs Planet M when you’ve got MusicYogi? This might be the most exciting time to be a musician. Tabla star Aneesh Pradhan, who set up Underscore Records with his wife, renowned vocalist Shubha Mudgal, tells us how they have successfully marketed non-mainstream sounds. Thermal and a Quarter tell us how they’ve managed to have three hit albums without being signed up to a label. We also profile the new releases of three recently formed independent record companies and speak to their founders about how music labels can thrive in today’s download-happy universe.

Read it all here (free registration).

The trouble with “ethnic” television

May 15, 2008 by

I’ve written about MTV-Desi in previous posts, but here’s a story that points very clearly to a shift in the way American media execs are now thinking about “ethnic” programming (link). According to this story, we will soon see a bouquet of STAR-owned channels (Star Plus, Star One, Vijay, and so on) on Comcast’s International line-up. Comcast owned International Networks has just signed a deal with the Star Group (owned by Newscorp). Good news, for the most part. But I also think that such relationships between U.S.-media companies and transnational entities like Star point to an important shift in how “ethnic” programming and the very notion of an “ethnic” audience community is being imagined.

Take a look at this statement from David Wisnia, senior VP of distribution and sales of Star North America and Europe:

International Networks is the leading aggregator of ethnic language programming in the U.S. and we are thrilled to have them represent five of our Indian channels to MSOs across the country. We look forward to increasing our distribution to cable homes across the U.S. so that more South Asian viewers can enjoy top-rated entertainment from back home.

It is abundantly clear that this exec, and arguably those at Comcast, conceive of South Asian viewers as remaining connected to their “home,” as viewers who can speak Hindi, Tamil or some other Indian language. Why are South Asian-Americans being defined primarily in South Asian terms? I would argue that there are three elements at work here.

First, we need to acknowledge the limits that marketing discourse imposes on distribution and programming decisions. The failures of MTV-Desi and AZN, one would imagine, have added to industry lore that such niche channels simply do not work. Besides, there is a very well-etablished tradition of marketing and advertising executives (including many who are of South Asian descent) who work hard to define ethnic difference.

Second, and perhaps the biggest challenge for the industry, is the problem of content. Why would a company seek to invest in original program production when it is clear that audiences are already watching programs from various television channels via YouTube and even by borrowing tapes of saas-bahu serials from a local desi grocery store. It is, without a doubt, financially more prudent to enter into a deal that brings in top quality content.

Third, and more broadly, this new definition of “ethnic” television that ties migrant populations to their “home” (the where are you really from question) completely ignores second and third-generation desis. South Asian Americans are now caught between two powerful nationalist imaginaries: an American television/marketing industry that is struggling to think beyond old notions of “community,” and an “Indian” television industry that includes desis but doesn’t need to worry about those desis who do not understand Hindi or Tamil or, for that matter, might not be “desi” in these very limiting ways.

Of Chai and Samosas: Indian cinema and exhibition in the U.S.

May 8, 2008 by

Distribution and exhibition of Indian films (mostly Hindi language Bollywood films) in North America have been un-organized sectors for nearly five decades now. In cities/regions with a large concentration of South Asians – New York/NJ, California, Toronto, and so on – a desi family would often run a weekend business that involved screening films at university halls or by renting a screen (for one weekend) at a local cinema theatre. While things have changed in larger cities – from dedicated screens to entire multiplexes (Naz8 in California, for e.g.) for Indian films – there has been no concerted effort to organize distribution and exhibition across the continent.

However, given the ways in which the “NRI market” has been targeted in increasingly sophisticated ways by the film industry in Mumbai, perhaps it is not a surprise that a Bollywood company has decided to launch a major exhibition venture. According to a story in India West, Adlabs is in the process of acquiring close to 200 cinemas in cities across the U.S. (link):

The new theater chain will likely be branded as Big Cinemas and will program a mix of Hindi, South Indian, and first-run and second-run Hollywood movies.

It has already begun a quiet rollout: the company’s first West Coast property to open is the Norwalk 8 Theaters in Southern California, which will screen the subtitled Hindi thriller “Tashan” and the unsubtitled Tamil romance “Santhosh Subramaniam” starting April 25, along with a mix of second-run features such as “Fool’s Gold” and “The Spiderwick Chronicles.”

If Adlabs does succeed in establishing a chain of theatres across the U.S., I have no doubt it will change the way Bollywood imagines and mobilizes an “overseas market.” In addition to bringing about a shift in distribution and marketing practices, this will also allow filmmakers to track revenues in a more organized and reliable fashion.

Family Matters – two takes

April 30, 2008 by

On the one hand, a story in the Washington Post about lower class/caste men and women trying to break into the film industry (go here):

Today, a trickle of actors, dancers and screenwriters from India’s lower and middle castes are trying to break into a formerly impenetrable star system, full of actors from Bollywood royalty and other insiders hailing from high-caste families. New drama schools are training Indians from all castes. And Bollywood is starting to tackle more serious plots that could potentially star low-caste actors.

“Will you get more attention if you have the right surname and are part of an entrenched star family? Of course,” said Anupama Chopra, a film critic and author of several best-selling books on Bollywood. “But there is increasing space now for a booming Bollywood film industry, and there’s a feeling that if you are talented enough, well, maybe you will get noticed, no matter what your family ties are.”

And on the other hand, Time Out Mumbai offers a map of the film industry to illustrate how important family ties are (subscription required, link):

Despite enormous changes in recent years, the Hindi film industry is still influenced tremendously by society’s most basic unit. A snap survey of today’s noteworthy actors reveals that many of them were either born into a film family or married into one. Hrithik Roshan? The son of actor-turned-filmmaker Rakesh Roshan and the grandson of filmmaker J Om Prakash. Salman Khan? The son of scriptwriter Salim Khan. Aamir Khan? The son of filmmaker Tahir Hussain, the nephew of producer Nasir Hussain, and the cousin of director Mansoor Khan. Abhishek Bachchan? The son of Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bhaduri. Saif Ali Khan? The son of Sharmila Tagore. Kareena Kapoor? A member of the Kapoor clan. Kajol? The daughter of actor Tanuja and director Shomu Mukherjee. Rani Mukerji? A member of the Mukherjee clan and the niece of Bengali actor Debashree Roy. The only outsider to have made it in recent times without family connections is Shah Rukh Khan. Akshay Kumar qualified too until he married Twinkle Khanna, herself an actor and the daughter of actors Dimple Kapadia and Rajesh Khanna.

Many more DNA matches can be found among directors, producers, and distributors as well as among second-rung actors. These include Karan Johar, Rohan Sippy, Goldie Behl, Aditya Chopra, Farhan Akhtar, Sidharth Anand, Sajid Nadiadwala, Anil Thadani, Meghna Gulzar, Amrita Arora, Zayed Khan, Esha Deol, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Ravi Chopra, Shaad Ali, Pooja Bhatt, Bobby Deol, Farah Khan and Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

Interjunction

April 17, 2008 by

It’s the last week of classes here (grading to be done and so on) and it looks like I will have to take a break from blogging for a week or so. But I did want to announce the launch of an exciting new “multiblog” – Interjunction – that aims to facilitate conversations between the media and academia. While a magazine like Seminar does bring together academics and practitioners at times, and The Hoot focuses attention media in the subcontinent, there is no dedicated space for enabling dialogue between media studies and the world of media production. Interjunction is an important and timely intervention in this regard.

Workers and Unions in Bollywood Inc.

April 12, 2008 by

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal (link) pays attention to an aspect of film production we don’t think about very often – who gets to be an extra in contemporary Bollywood films. Pointing out that directors these days look for “extras who fit the scene,” the reporter Amol Sharma documents the emergence of entrepreneurs who work closely with directors to help cast extras. And what’s more, these entrepreneurs, who carry CDs with images of potential extras and broker deals with directors and producers, are proving to be a threat to a well-established institution in the film industry – the Junior Artists Union.

Indian directors say they need to be picky about extras as they try to go global and appeal to the United Kingdom and the U.S. markets, where higher production values are expected. “You can’t keep using the same faces every time,” says Sudhir Mishra, director of the recently released “Khoya Khoya Chand” (Lost Moon), a love story set in the 1950s. Mr. Mishra bypassed the union to hire actors he felt could more authentically portray prostitutes, bouncers and pimps in a brothel scene.

Directors also try to boost the international appeal of their films by using foreign extras, often European or American vacationers rounded up at Mumbai tourist spots — a tactic that is particularly galling to unionized extras. Film producers “give excuses, like ‘We’re shooting in a pub, so we want to have some foreigners there,'” says Firoz Khan, a 25-year-old member of the Junior Artistes Association, the union for male extras. “It’s just excuses.”

The Junior Artists’ Union is fighting back valiantly, trying to figure out how they can renegotiate their place in an industry that is currently besotted by the language of “corporatization.” Read the whole article here, and here’s a video that accompanies the article:

It’s important to note that this isn’t an isolated domain of the industry that is under siege. In an article in Anthropological Quarterly, Clare Wilkinson-Weber maps the changing world of costume design and the growing marginalization of “dressmen:”

Dressmen have always employed informal methods and techniques in their work, and they now find their skills, knowledge, as well as their privilege of maleness in a male-dominated industry being eroded as Hindi filmmaking is transforming itself aesthetically and organizationally in response to global forces.

Drawing on in-depth interviews with a number of such “dressmen,” Wilkinson-Weber explains how the “de-skilling” of dressmens’ jobs has to be understood in relation to changing industry logics and specifically, the entry of a number of young, urban women who “claim superior knowledge of filmmaking techniques and of the fashion world that informs film costume” [The Dressman's Line: Transforming the Work of Costumers in Popular Hindi Film, Anthropological Quarterly, 79(4), 2006].

I know very little about the history of workers’ unions in Mumbai, but this story points to the importance of industry-focuses studies that can provide nuanced understandings of production culture in “Bollywood Inc.”

Taaza Khabar

April 11, 2008 by

Aswin’s post about Khabar Lahariya reminded me that filmmaker Bishakha Dutta had made a documentary film called Taaza Khabar on the women who produce the newspaper. I have not seen the film but the Nirantar wesbite has some clips of the film here.

To add to the discussion: this initiative appears to have resolved to some extent the problematic NGO impulse to seek out the ‘voiceless’ and give them ‘voice.’ Nirantar’s role seems limited to training the women, not dictating the ‘issues’ they need to be concerned about. The women, at least from the website, seem to have autonomy in choosing what they want to investigate and report on. This is significant.

From Culver City to Chennai

April 8, 2008 by

Via Cartoon Brew (thanks, Amrita), a rather funny short that has two Sony Imageworks artists imagining their life in the event of their jobs getting moved to Chennai. And here’s what inspired them.

Grassroots journalism: Khabar Lahariya

April 6, 2008 by

There have been a number of commentaries of late criticizing the logics of mainstream journalism in contemporary India. In one widely circulated piece, Naresh Fernandes, editor of Time Out Mumbai, reminds us about P. Sainath’s “rural journalism” and how the space for such writing does not exist anymore (here). It is, as Fernandes points out, quite clear that English-language urban dailies like the Times of India operate with a very specific and narrow notion of who the reader-consumer is. Given this state of affairs, non-market and local initiatives become increasingly important.

Via India Together, I learned about one such initiative – Khabar Lahariya, a newspaper run by women for audiences in the Bundelkhand region of India. Kalpana Ram provides an overview of how this initiative came to be and argues that more than circulation figures, Khabar Lahariya is important simply because it exists.

Khabar Lahariya began as an experiment in 2002, aided by Nirantar, a resource centre for gender and education. It is based in Chitrakoot district, one of the 200 poorest districts in India, where there is practically no industry and the majority of people survive on rain-fed agriculture. Literacy rates are lower than the national average; female literacy is only 35 per cent. The sex ratio is also below the national average, only 872 women to a 1,000 men. Incidents of sexual violence are high and the justice delivery system barely functions as criminal gangs operate with impunity under the nose of a complacent and often complicit administration.

Against this background, a group of Dalit and adivasi women felt the need to start and run their own newspaper because the existing media in the area did not report on the issues that concerned them. They wanted to break the stereotype that lower caste women like them would not dare enter the public domain. Despite their lack of education, they wanted to prove that they too could be journalists.

You can read the rest of Ram’s piece here. The Nirantar website carries more details, and to get a sense of how these women cover current affairs (taaza khabar), national and international news, women’s issues, panchayati raj, and much more, you can read an entire issue of the newspaper here (Hindi).

NDTV Lumiere

April 5, 2008 by

Over at MediaCommons, two comments pointed to the importance of situating initiatives like NDTV Imagine in relation to the network as a whole. I couldn’t agree more, and as I’ve pointed out in earlier posts, transitions in the television industry are central to the film industry as well. It would be a mistake to continue to examine film and TV in isolation, especially given the importance of television rights to producers in Bollywood. Films aside, we are yet to map, in any systematic fashion, the workings of numerous filmy shows on television – song and dance talent/game shows of various kinds have been part of television for nearly two decades now (ZEE TV’s Antakshari began in 1993).

And now, NDTV has added another dimension to TV’s relationship with film with the launch of NDTV Lumiere.

Led by Sameer Nair, former CEO of Star Entertainment India, NDTV Lumiere has roped in Manmohan Shetty, founder of Adlabs, and Sunil Doshi, a film producer. The goal, as the video above suggests, is to develop NDTV Lumiere as a niche space for audiences interested in cinema from around the world. Instead of competing with Zee Cafe and Star World for “elite audiences” (see this), this seems like a smart differentiating tactic.

More broadly, I think this initiative signals the working out of a radically new set of relationship between two screens in India – at the level of industry logics, productions cultures, and audiences’ viewing practices. More on this in posts to come.


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