Across the decades when films became a cultural and social lubricant in India, it was hardly a contest between mainstream and non-mainstream films. Mainstream films developed a deep connection with the audiences with its convincing socio-cultural themes and stories of an emerging India that resonated with the audiences in those times.
Today our mainstream films have lost its socio-cultural appeal and are facing an existential crisis, they are vacuous and bereft of substance. Mainstream films are plagued by poor storylines, obtuse plot narratives and weak characterisation.
Now there’s a distinct viewer preference for stories which are rooted in contemporary culture, societal events and realism.
Can Independent Films take advantage of this churn of sentiment and bait new audiences into its fold?
Of course, it’s easier said than done. Independent Films have its own share of flaws, challenges and misconceptions to deal with. That’s another story some day else.
I would like to address is how we can address this audience who is satiating for new stories and new forms of storytelling.
How can we increase the reach of Independent Film? How can we change the perception of Independent Film as something ‘artsy’ and ‘low budget’ to cultivate and sustain a new audience?
Why is distribution of Film so rigid, cost inhibitive and deprived of innovation? Why can’t we create a network of theatrical screens with smaller capacity to reach the target audience?
Why can’t museums, art galleries and auditoriums become a sanctuary for Independent Cinema in every city in India?
If reality shows have hit home on TV, why can’t engaging documentaries be marketed as reality stories and provide an entertaining as well as thought provoking option to audiences eager for the ‘truth content’?
Why can’t perceptions about Independent Films being boring and insipid be changed and managed? Because they’re not. The truth needs to be communicated with a marketing agenda that changes perception one film at a time. One marketing project at a time.