Old classics, live music or drivel on the Web ?  

People are spoilt for choice. But a lot of drivel is also available

 Old classics, live music or drivel on the Web ?  
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Murtaza Ali Khan

In a lockdown, unable to go out and there is no Internet. How would we have coped with it 20 years ago when the Internet access was very little? But thanks to the truly revolutionary technology, we are in a much better shape to deal with the lockdown and stay connected now.

We can read e-books, listen to concerts, watch films of our preference and with a host of live-streaming platforms offering fresh Web series and films, people are on binge viewing.

But the sad fact is that the web is quickly becoming home to a lot of drivel. The livestreaming platforms are a major culprit as they have rushed to dump stuff that they themselves might have rejected earlier. Most of them catered to an urban niche before the lockdown but now have a whole new, captive audience in tier two and three cities. Mobile viewing has increased, and the appetite is insatiable.

They are replicating what production houses did to Indian TV channels all these years, serving up insufferable tosh. Mediocre content made Indian TV struggle to retain viewership. And the Web is now falling into the same trap, encouraging mediocre productions in the rush to feed the beast with huge appetite. It is advisable to look up a critic’s views first before plunging into a web series and discover that the time invested was not worth it.

Competition between different OTT platforms is fast heating up. Global leaders Netflix (The Innocent Files, Fauda Season 3, Money Heist Season 4) and Amazon Prime (Panchayat, Four More Shots Please Season 2) are facing some stiff competition from the likes of ALTBalaji (Who’s Your Daddy?), Voot Select (Asur, The Raikar Case, Marzi), Hotstar (Special Ops), MX Player (Ek Thi Begum, Bhaukaal), ZEE5 (State of Siege: 26/11) and others.

“The period 2018-19 witnessed a boom in web-based content. But it was never in a position to replace cinema or television. But the lockdown has created a golden opportunity for the web to expand its base by penetrating into newer segments,” says Deepak Dua, senior film critic and a member of Film Critics Guild.

Critics who seldom viewed web series earlier, he points out, are now forced to do so in the absence of new releases. Since a web series requires a much longer investment of time than a movie, and leaving the series midway leaves a bad taste in the mouth, reading the critics first might save the viewer some frustration, he adds. Revisiting old films is an alternative worth exploring, says Dua. “I have watched dozens of classics on YouTube over the past few weeks. Also, Doordarshan has brought back many of its serials from its golden age. It’s a treasure trove really. Also, younger audiences can now watch the best of Doordarshan along with their families,” he says with a chuckle.

The worldwide lockdown has also led to concerts without audiences, complete silence greeting performances.

In March, Biwako Hall in Japan which had earlier cancelled its performance of Wagner’s ‘Götterdämmerung’ eventually decided to go ahead without anyone in attendance.Bach Collegium Japan also performed Bach’s ‘St. John Passion’ at the Cologne Philharmonic but the performance was met with resounding silence.

Also, at a time when the Coronavirus outbreak has badly shaken the world, artists all around the globe are also trying to find new ways to stay connected with their fans. Most of them are posting regular updates on Twitter. Many of the artists are having live sessions on their Instagram and Facebook platforms.

We are also witnessing a plethora of online music festivals featuring some of the world’s biggest artists joining in from the comfort and safety of their homes.

In India too, while Social Chain launched its Facebook livestream #SOCIALindoors featuring artists like Ankur Tewari, Aditi Ramesh and Raghav Meattle, Bacardi NH7 Weekender organised a three-day music festival titled #HappyFromHome featuring the likes of Grammy Award-winning drummer Chris Adler, rapper Raja Kumari, American guitarist Marty Friedman and desi bass artist Nucleya, among others.

Gig series brought together musicians such as Suraj Mani, Mahesh Raghunandan, Meera Desai, etc. as part of their Instagram livestream. Other livestreams include Bookmyshow’s Live From HQ and Hungama Artist Aloud’s #StayAtHome #StayEntertained, among others. The world of entertainment is unlikely to be what it was, once this crisis gets over.

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