Read Editorial with D2G – Ep 471

The Indian Express

Mind it

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Meanings are given in BOLD

Mulan isn’t coming to a theatre near you. Disney’s decision to release the live-action remake of the animated classic on its OTT platform earlier this week has theatre owners understandably apprehensive ( anxious or fearful that something bad or unpleasant will happen ) about their future. The decision signals a fundamental shift in the economics and patterns of consumption ( the action of using up a resource )  of cinema, catalysed ( cause (an action or process) to begin ) by the pandemic.

While smaller budget films have been released on digital platforms, Mulan is the first film of its scale that has skipped theatres.In the age of lockdowns, hyperbole ( exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally ) and social media, nostalgic reminiscences ( a characteristic of one thing that is suggestive of another ) of the cinema-hall experience are already proliferating ( increase rapidly in number; multiply). But before writing the obituary ( a notice of a death, especially in a newspaper, typically including a brief biography of the deceased person ) of the communal consumption of mass culture, it is important to remember that Disney isn’t all there is to mainstream films, and there are movies outside America.

The South Asian blockbuster, for example, doesn’t lend itself as easily to first-time viewing at home. Apart from mundane ( lacking interest or excitement; dull )  concerns of infrastructure and economy (lack of broadband penetration and the fact that OTT platforms and pay-per-view showings are still too expensive for most households), what Indians expect from a mainstream blockbuster is different. The experience is more interactive, the enjoyment more performative. Imagine whistling ( wish for or expect (something) in vain ) at your laptop screen when the superstar makes his entrance.

And dancing along to a song in your room with headphones on doesn’t have the same charm as doing so in the narrow space between the front stall and the screen. The blockbuster is not usually an intimate ( closely acquainted; familiar ) story. It is a parable ( a story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one ) told on a large canvas, in close-ups, that tell you who to root for. Let the OTT platforms have Mulan. The theatre in India has Rajinikanth.

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