How Talkie Cinema Became A Threat To Silent Cinema
With the latest technology OTT (Over-The-Top) streaming media service becoming the hot favorite of filmmakers, both in Bollywood and down South Film Industry, there is terror among the exhibitors and the cinema hall owners. The thought of biggest blockbusters like Akshay Kumar’s ‘Laxmmi Bomb‘, Ajay Devgn’s Bhuj, and Alia Bhatt’s Sadak 2, being released on OTT is giving sleepless nights to film exhibitors and the cinema hall industry.
Though the OTT may be a lucrative and safe bet for filmmakers’ but it could affect the multi-crore business of film exhibitors? If the OTT platforms prove a success for filmmakers’, it might impact more than 9,000 single screens and multiplexes business, and employees could lose jobs. Hence panicked by the threat, members of the Eastern India Motion Pictures of India have sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s help to remove the exhibitor sector from the mess.
As the tension between the exhibitors and the filmmakers over the OTT release boils, Indian Film History (IFH), wants to remind the readers that such a crisis, due to innovative technology, is not new to the Indian film industry! The Indian film industry has faced these challenges valiantly. Remember, 14 March 1931, the day when India’s First Talkie Cinema, Alam Ara, was released. Though the cine buffs were delighted over the introduction of sound in films, the silent filmmakers were left disillusioned! These filmmakers, who had dominated the film industry for the past two decades, were suddenly in a soup! Why? Well, Alam Ara did write a new chapter of film evolution but silent filmmakers were jobless!
Reason? Well, since Talkie production was not only complicated but expensive than silent films, several film production companies shut their production houses! Even the Father of Indian Cinema, Dada Saheb Phalke, lost his magic and had to retire from filmmaking. As a result, the last days of Dada Saheb Phalke were difficult, and he died in poverty. It was not just the filmmakers who were in distress top-selling actors also faced the burnt. Sound in cinema brought a new challenge for actors. In those days, Urdu and Hindi were the languages with the maximum reach across the country; Hindi-Urdu became the favorite language of the talkies. Actors who did not know these languages either quit cinema or learned these languages for survival. Readers would be surprised to know, D. D. Dabke, the hero of the film Raja Harishchandra had to switch to the cinematographer for survival as he could speak good Hindi/ Urdu. Thus the career of several actors/ actresses was marred by the advent of sound in cinema.
There was panic in the film industry for survival. Producers across the country were in a state of shock. While some were transforming their old studios by setting up new systems to face the sound revelation, others were switching trades to make a living.
The ‘Exhibitors’ who are today facing the threat of OTT, similarly, faced the heat due to the advent of sound in cinema. The exhibitors had to renew their cinema halls, and replace their silent projectors with sound equipment and make their theatres soundproof. Those who had money survived while the rest drowned.
By the latter half of the 1930s, not only in Bollywood but down South and Bengal, things had stabilized. The film industry had accepted full-fledged talkie industries, which was far superior and better quality than the silent era.