How often do we pause and ponder about industry issues that have a bearing beyond just our rigmaroles? Share insights that can further the common understanding? Or, at the very least, point at things that need to be set right.
View Point - an exchange4media platform, will fill this void and become a source of understanding, action and perhaps some inspiration.
An ardent bridge player, a producer, a writer and a teacher - one could go on and on about Amit Khanna. Khanna has a wide lineage- he has worked in theatre, radio, television, journalism, advertising and films. He has been on the executive committee of IBF, Indian Music Industry, and Film Federation of India.
He set up Plus Channels in '90s and quit in 2000 to launch Reliance Entertainment with Reliance. Khanna the Chairman of the Convergence Committee of FICCI. And also he is the Member of the Core Group of Ministry of I&B, on GATS and Ministry of Commerce. His contributions and association is a long list.
Amit Khanna, Chairman, Reliance Entertainment
Engaging Minds in the Attention Age
In print, on air, in film , on stage it is the word, which counts. Content- a much abused term in the recent dotcom-tainted past -has always been the touchstone of any communication. From pre-historic cave paintings to an I-Max film, from a 30-second jingle to a never-ending soap opera it is the story, which moves. Style is (or at least should be) always subservient to substance. The ability to excite, entice, enthral and engage people is what all media professionals endeavor all the time. Yet, success is usually elusive and mostly evanescent. I believe that this is invariably not because of absence of talent but poor application of mind.
The last decade has seen the use of many epiteths to describe contemporary times. From the post-industrial to the information age, from the smokestacks to the digital era the change has been more than mere semantic. The most cataclysmic change has been the rise of mass communication. From a knowledge economy we are swiftly turning into an attention economy.
There is a relentless assault of our senses by various media and messages. There is constant talk of globalization and massification of society. This is more totemic than tectonic. What is becoming apparent is that at the very top of the pyramid there are a few global products, which sell across demographics, but in most cases homologation of ethnocentricity. Simply put "Glocaliztion".
Marketeers, media managers will in the days to come have to be equally adept at understanding popular culture. Rating points and readership surveys will only provide the foundation on which to build an effective metrix. Conversely the creative professionals specially those in Television and films will have to understand market dynamics rather than just their intitutive beliefs. It is quite fashionable these days to talk in laudatory terms the success of Bollywood films, family sagas and even 'language copyrighters' without realizing the reason for successful communication. A majority of decision makers are still Macaulay's children genetically altered by B-school gobbledygook. On the other hand the film (serial) makers are neo-literate regurgitators of stale tripe.
I am neither cynical nor despondent. I think we are in the midst of change. Technology is a great enabler and it moves in geometric progression. Unfortunately society develops in arithmetic progression. From the Neandarthaler to the 21st century human our fundamental emotional responses have virtually remained the same. Fear, Joy, Pain, Jealousy, Anger, Love, Lust, Loneliness, Kinsmanship. Emotive appeal is the ability to touch one of these attributes. If we are able to strike the right chord then we are able to connect with our target group. This then translates into a sale of a product, a service or an idea. All media is trying to do this all the time. And so are all other marketeers. Obviously the aptitude to touch the maximum hearts and minds is what creates a blockbuster. In the process of reaching the widest audience sometimes the homogenision is so complete the end product is most banal. This is a pitfall which folks in showbiz and advertising face the most.
What should one do in such circumstances? I think we have to have more inter-discipline interaction. Multi skilling is the answer as far communication is concerned. We have to be polyglot but ethnocentric. The digital world, which is fast erasing geographical boundaries, is also creating close communities. These communities often far dispersed have a linkage of language, nationality or culture. The popularity of Indian films overseas especially amongst the large Indian Diaspora is a prime example.
Cricket is another example of bringing together a heterogeneous mix of people together. Having said that it is imperative that all communication to any community i.e. targets group must be tailored accordingly. As students of semiotics say every society has symbols, which convey much more than is apparent. Specificity in terms of speech, dress, demenour adds a lot of meaning to any communication. This is also a part of subliminal messaging which is so important in information over-load.
There is a thin dividing line between an archetype and a stereotype. Most creative professional try to take a safe route and end up in maize of stereotypes. This unleashes law of diminishing returns and you have box-office failure or falling ratings. Innovation is obviously the answer but it is the most difficult of the options. In attempting to be different one can easily become abstruse or disconnected. The challenge is to be able to understand your audience and relate to it emotionally. Without being didactic or condescending one can be populist and democratic without being pedestrian. Elite-centrism is another common malaise, which is best avoided. Ultimately it is all about telling a refreshing tale interestingly or even a predictable one with some inventiveness.