Is television the new cinema?

With the advent of streaming giants like Netflix, Iflix and Hulu, the way audience engages with entertainment has undertaken a paradigm shift, lately. We would rather pay a mere Rs. 1000 every month and access unlimited TV shows and movies in the comfort of our homes than actually make an effort to go to a theater. Unless of course the movie provides a cinematic experience that has no alternative whatsoever. This debate around television being the new cinema is indeed a recent one but it is imperative to indulge in it, given the changing audience consumption patterns, worldwide.

Assessing the need to have this conversation, School of Tomorrow – a conference series initiated by Beaconhouse – organized a talk titled ‘Television: The New Cinema’ this past weekend in Karachi, at their annual SOT conference. The panel comprised of 8 people including Galaxy Lollywood’s co-founder Momin Ali Munshi, Nadeem Baig, Nabeel Qureshi, , Irfan Malik, Sanam Saeed, Aly Khan, Bee Gul and Khalid Ahmed while the discussion was moderated by the incredibly talented Sarmad Khoosat.

The discussion primarily revolved around the panelists’ perceptions on the future of both cinema and television. Our own Momin Ali Munshi argued that even though films like Cake, that provide no cinematic experience whatsoever, are exceptionally well made, they’re not suited for our nascent film industry. In times when people hardly come out of their houses to go to the cinemas, commercial films are required more than ever to keep the cinemas running. India, on the other hand, can afford to screen such movies in their cinemas because they’ve a colossal amount of films coming out of Bollywood every year. They have a gigantic number of cinema screens all across their country and the ‘going-to-the-theaters’ culture has taken years to evolve. Pakistan, quite frankly, is not there yet.

Currently, we only have abut 135 screen in total across the entire country and if we don’t give our audience the cinematic experience they want, we might be running out of business. Well made drama films like Cake are indeed what we should be churning out but if we are being pragmatic, our film industry does not have the bandwidth to support them, currently.

The panel discussion was interspersed with other sub-topics such as the future of our web shows and the maturity of their content, who is and who is not a star and to what extent the commercial films can and should go when it comes to theatrics.

At the end of discussion, however, everyone agreed that content is king, at the end of the day. Even if we are to focus more on commercial films, at this point in time, it is important to put thought into their content. Audiences, in the current day, are getting more and more self aware with what they want to see on their screens and not paying heed to their preferences is something the film industry should not risk.



Cover Image Via: SOT Events/Facebook