By Bitasta Ghosh

Kolkata: Cyrus Dastur, is a leading name in India’s short film scene, attended the #Medianext 2020 conclave and was the first speaker of the 3rd day of the online webinar which focused on “Short Films and Web Entertainment” and highlighted some important points on web entertainment, short films and future of digital entertainment.

#Medianext 2020 is organised by the Kolkata based Adamas University in association with Sharda University, Birla Global University, DME, AIMEC, Lok Samvad Sansthan, exchange4media, ABP Education and IndiaReal.in, The mega conclave is being organized over a period of 10 days from June 1, 2020 to June 10, 2020. Each day of the conclave focuses on one specialized domain of the Media and Entertainment (M&E) industry and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on that specific domain.

Cyrus F. Dastur , a prominent name in the Indian theatre circuit, kick started the Short Film wave in the country over a decade back. He has been a part of theatre ever since he can remember. He has produced, directed, scripted and acted in several plays with stalwarts like Tom Alter, Luke Kenny, Juhi Babbar, Rajeev Raja and Anurag Kashyap. He is the founder of “Shamiana”, Asia’s largest and fastest growing short film company, which also has international presence in Melbourne, Hong Kong and also in more than 15 cities of India.

Cyrus, also a respected producer, has produced many Bollywood films like ‘Bolti Bandh’, ‘Sweetie weds NRI’, ‘Kaash’ etc and also many TV series and musical production. When God said cheers is one of the biggest hits on Indian theatre and has been staged at just about every unconventional venue across the country. It is the play costarring Tom Alter and directed and acted by Dastur.

Pre-Covid vs. Post-Covid economic situation in film industry

“Will the film industry be the same what it was 100 years back?” by asking this question first, Cyrus made everyone realize that how vulnerable the situation of film industry is. He even mentioned that “one virus” just broke all apart, and the world seems to have changed pretty much in the last 2 to 3 months, where the film industry is also not under their control.

He went to explain how the business of film industry is collapsing just because of this pandemic situation. He added “A lot of things have changed like the capacity of theatres is going to be 30%.  It means that all the box office collections will drop, for example, if a Salman Khan film opening earned 100 crores over a weekend, now it means your collection will only be 30 crores. And if your film was doing a lifetime business of 200 crores now the business comes down to 50-60 crores only.”

He talked about the changes in economics of film making and how this radical change will continue until the corona is over and for atleast for 2 years we have to live with this new dynamic. He added, “The way we consume entertainment itself will change, it pushes us towards online”. In addition with this he also emphasized on the point that all of the OTT platforms are currently running losses where ULLU itself is an exceptional platform which is only making money.

However Cyrus mentioned that for social distancing guidelines for combating COVID 19 which we all have to follow, even the shooting will be affected, and this will be the main reason behind collapsing of the business. “For this reason the budgets of lot of TV shows, lot of programs have been slashed by atleast 40-50%”, he added.

The future of short films

The founder of Shamiana, briefed many concepts about short films “It is a extremely good time for short film”.  Talking about the short films he said, “In these present times a lot of people are attracted towards the short films and short films are really in demand because of the relatable contents, where most of the students can relate with that content. For example he said that we all watched Avengers, Big Bang but we will not be able to make that kind of content. But if we see short films we many times feel that we can make those.”

The quality of entertainment – present scenario

Cyrus added that the quality of entertainment has come down drastically where people can see the films or programs or any TV shows with same quality on their mobile phones and TV screen. They don’t have to go out to watch the films but he suggested that all the content needs to be exciting enough otherwise it will not be simulating the interest of the audience.

The session was concluded with a question answer round where he was asked about how a beginner will start and achieve their goals in film industry after this pandemic. He answered, “The time ahead is not going to be easy, it is going to be a struggle, but the good thing is we live in times of social media, so try and connect with people on Facebook, Twitter. Keep networking and keep working on your skills. Make short films, make videos of yourself, and display your talent. Whether you want to be an actor, or you want to be a film maker or a story writer, keep knocking the door.

On that note he concluded leaving all the media aspirants inspired and filled with a lot of admiration for him and information on the future of the cinema and how to march ahead in life. 

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