Thursday, May 30, 2024

Is star culture declining in Indian cinema

Akshita Chaudhury

In the world of Indian cinema, the concept of a “star” has long been crucial to the industry’s appeal and success. From the famous Amitabh Bachchan to the charismatic Shah Rukh Khan, stars have dominated audiences, setting trends and defining the very spirit of Bollywood with their acting skills. However, as we move into the digital age, distinguished by the development of OTT platforms and the availability of worldwide content, the old concept of celebrity is undergoing a very dramatic transformation. The changing generation, their changing choices, and the changing concepts and technology have affected the cinema industry a lot over time. Will these changes lead to a drop in Indian film stardom? 

With time, a huge change in the environment of celebrity culture is seen, if we recall the time when entertainment options were significantly more limited. Decades ago, Indian cinema audiences had very few options for pleasure, and films and dramas emerged as the principal sources of leisure and escapism. In that scenario, stars played a crucial role, serving as lights of aspiration, role models, and dreams for millions. Their larger-than-life personas spread beyond the screen, affecting everything from fashion to personal choices, styles of living, and the societal conventions of the people in that era. The influence of stars on their audience used to set different trends for that particular era, and the craze among people used to be at different levels. 

During that era, Hindi films ruled supreme, with viewers going to theatres to see the latest blockbuster starring their favorite actors. The notion of “fan clubs” emphasized the loyalty and admiration placed upon these film heroes. The support of the fan clubs was everything for a star to become a superstar in that era. However, the introduction of technology and the digital revolution have irreversibly transformed the scene.

With the changing times, the generation has entered the era of over-the-top (OTT) platforms. Which has brought an revolutionary moment in the entertainment industry. With the rise of platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+, fans now have several options and choices, with a wealth of content at their disposal. From multinational blockbusters to niche independent productions, the possibilities are almost endless. As a result, Hindi cinema’s once-unchallenged dominance has been called into question, resulting in an increasingly varied and cosmopolitan film industry. 

In this era of abundance, the conventional concept of the star faces significant challenges. With viewers increasingly favouring content-driven narratives over star-driven vehicles, the dominance of individual stars is being called into question. Unlike in the past, when the mere existence of a star could guarantee box office success, today’s viewers are more sensitive, preferring quality over stardom.

Furthermore, the democratization of fame made possible by social media has blurred the line between celebrities and ordinary people. Platforms like Instagram and YouTube have allowed budding artists to carve out their own niches and build millions of followers without the support of a traditional film company. As a result, the aura of enchantment surrounding celebrities has diminished, with audiences preferring genuineness and relatability to artificial attractiveness.

Also, the globalization of entertainment has exposed Indian cinema consumers to a wide range of cinematic experiences, reducing Bollywood’s supremacy. From Korean dramas to Spanish thrillers, consumers are consuming material from all over the world, overcoming cultural and linguistic obstacles. In this global tapestry, the attractiveness of Indian cinema stars may not be enough to capture fans, necessitating a more complex approach to storytelling and character characterization.

While the traditional concept of the star may be fading, it would be premature to declare it extinct. Stars continue to have a significant impact, although in a more complex and multifaceted manner. Instead of depending simply on their on-screen identities, today’s stars are using their platforms to connect with audiences on a deeper level, promote social causes, and demonstrate their versatility through a variety of roles.

Furthermore, the rise of cross-platform collaborations and synergies between traditional Indian cinema and OTT platforms opens up new avenues for stars to reinvent themselves and broaden their reach. From starring in exclusive web series to creating content for digital platforms, performers are adapting to new industry dynamics and exploiting technology to remain relevant in the ever-changing entertainment scene.

After Ranbir Kapoor’s terrific performance in Animal, many are speculating that he is going to be the next superstar, while many believe that no one will be able to achieve the level of stardom that SRK, Amitabh and Rajnikant has achieved throughout their careers.

But all we can say is that although the old concept of star culture in Indian cinema may be changing, it is far from extinct. The rise of OTT platforms and the globalization of entertainment have clearly challenged the monopoly of stars, but they have also created new opportunities for creativity and innovation. As we move through this period of countless entertainment options, the concept of the star may shift, but its continuing attraction and influence on Indian cinema are likely to remain, although in a more refined and comprehensive form.


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