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“We have always perceived a movie as an event”

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on November 15, 2017

Mr Shekhar Kapur

When Paan Singh Tomar was released, film-maker and social media evangelist Shekhar Kapur was among those furiously tweeting about the movie. “The cause and effect of the social media was so strong that it made the film successful,” claims Kapur. In an exclusive interview with Business Line, the Bandit Queen director talks about the role of social media to market films, his new venture Paani and the new social media platform Qyuki with musician A R Rahman. Excerpts:

How can Indian moviemakers use social networking Web sites?

There was a time when a lot of actors were getting on to social media just before their movie releases and this was criticised by the community. The message being “Don't use social media to advertise and promote yourself. But be a part of the community and talk to the users.” The earlier you can become part of this community with the context of what you plan to do, the more awareness one can generate. When I started with “ Paani”, I raised issues related to water. My social media presence is based on issues. I have been getting a lot of feedback from around the world and people are sharing ideas with me. Based on this feedback, I have travelled and talked to people in Berlin and London and other cities. In Hollywood, directors have even started sharing part of their scripts with the audience through social media networks.

How are you taking the engagement around Paani to the next level?

We have always perceived a movie as an event. I think some of the movies can become a community resource. Certain films can be done as part of a process which involves the entire community. And we can have a lot of activities designed around it. I have shared designs of my movie Paani. We could have contests for users to make one minute short movies around the subject. Paani has thus become a community event.

What are the investments you have made into your social media platform Qyuki and when will it be launched?

I cannot share investment figures. Cisco is one of the major partners because we wanted to have a strategic partner who understands technology and technology's delivery mechanism. We believe social media platforms address specific cultures. We are developing a platform which is based on the cultural needs of India and will be a network of creative expression. We are testing it right now.

How do you see the changing technologies impact the Indian entertainment industry?

I am not saying that theatres will go away. However, there are only 12,000 theatres in the country. There are over 700 million cell phones that are turning into smart phones and becoming multi-purpose. As the delivery and compression technologies advance, we will need new ways to engage with the consumers. Will it be through a two-hour movie, one hour movie or a TV series? I think it will be a combination of all these formats and today technology is enabling a cell phone to become a projector. So today technology is not just providing a fantastic reach but it is also bringing down the cost of creating content and bypassing the whole system which was based on gate keeping.

> Meenakshi.v@thehindu.co.in

Published on May 17, 2012

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