The Global Appeal of Movies
So, remember the first scene of Marvel’s Deadpool? The hero sits behind in the car, Indian music plays in the background and we see a driver with thick Indian accent talking to Deadpool. The song is an old one, from Raj Kapoor’s iconic movie Shree 420. In one scene, we find so many references which automatically connect to Indian audiences of all age groups. Such is the power of cinema these days.
Or take an example of Aamir Khan going to China to promote his movie and to be enthusiastically greeted by an audience who neither speak Hindi and whose language which we are so distant from; they greet him with chants of ‘Uncle Aamir’ as if he were their own. His films in recent years have done so well in China that there’s a scramble among movie production houses to get Chinese funding and distribution deals.
Because of increased competition in the film industry globally, Studios & distributors are keen to tap new markets in emerging economies like China, India and other countries in SE Asia. Indian film industry already was tapping into NRI market in the overseas since the 90s. In fact, most films were funded by NRI money, legally or otherwise. Increased competition has lessened production house profits these days. Box office shelf life of films counts in a matter of weeks than previously when they ran for months and years. Henceforth, the need to diversify into other markets.
Films also are increasingly being made in a manner which makes them contemporary and relevant to the milieu of today. The trend of globalization has accelerated this process and the films today reflect, to a certain degree, the ethnic composition of the characters. We see this trend in Hollywood where calls for a diverse cast of actors has resulted in a slew of new movies that show increased diversity. So, if an American movie has an Indian character, irrespective of his American accent and his birthplace in the US, Indians will watch his films. Or the works of Spike Lee and the black characters will attract black audiences, whether they be in the US, UK, Europe or Africa.
According to media studies, the rise and spread of television media had opened up people in ways they never felt. A person of different language, culture, and values, thousands of miles away can relate to others and their issues which affect them such as poverty, discrimination and hunger. Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma 2018 is one such great example of an Avante Garde cinema whose audiences were here in India as well.
We have arrived at a time, where, unlike in the past when foreign films were exhibitions in film schools and museums, the global audiences can access content from any nation. Even nations where censorship is extreme, we find a proliferation of underground market for movies. For example, we are aware of Indian movies watched illegally in Pakistan. Or that there are great TV shows in Pakistan aesthetically superior to Indian television shows and we have audiences here for them.
Movies and web series are continuously bridging the culture gap, even while the global political scenario tends to be increasingly autarkic.