It all started with the silent movie era and has slowly and gradually given way to a digital revolution. Ever since its inception, Indian cinema has been expanding in all tangential ways and so are the different prospects and approach towards filmmaking. Having seen over a 100 glorious years, the reach of cinema is growing larger than ever expected. From a small town to a metro, every corner is able to enjoy the different flavours of cinema at the same time. The credit of which goes to ‘Digitisation’ that has changed the face of the industry. Gone are the conservative methods and approaches to be replaced by modern, futuristic techniques.

With the spread of Internet, many industries including cinema have undergone a sea of change over the last couple of years. Digitisation of Indian Cinema has influenced filmmaking on all fronts – be it the pre-production stage, where the story is developed; the production stage, where one can actually look into the footage that is shot and correct it on the spot or the post-production stage where the entire film can get a whole new look with the help of various digital technology.

Om Shanti Om

Om Shanti Om

It was back in 2005-2006, when Hindi Cinema first saw the signs of digital contribution but it was only around 2008-2009, when one could actually employ and experience digitisation in its full glory.  In 2007, Shah Rukh Khan’s blockbuster hit Om Shanti Om released with 1,400 prints in India, majorly analogue. In 2008, Akshay Kumar’s hit-comedy film Singh is Kinng was released via digital distribution. The film released simultaneously in 415 digital theatres. Another brilliant example of digital distribution that was seen in 2008 was Aamir Khan’s Ghajini, which released with the maximum number of prints in India – 1200 (both digital and analogue versions). In 2013, the whole game changed when Dhoom 3 released with 4,500 prints, and almost all were digital.

With films like Krrish, Ra.One, Mr. X and the likes, Hindi cinema saw an infusion of sci-fi thanks to the technology that helped create state-of-the-art visual effects and more. Animation too has seen a manifold growth and the recent release, Baahubali: The Beginning is an apt example of cinema’s  exponential progress in the digital world. Today the country has studios like Reliance MediaWorks, Prime Focus, Prasad Labs, Red Chillies and others that dedicatedly cater to films and TV content giving them an avant-garde look and feel.

Ra One

Ra One

With digital distribution, many small towns get a film released on the same day as the rest of the world. Digital distribution not only helps the viewers to watch the film, but also helps film producers to reach relevant audiences and increase the number of prints without any additional cost.

  • Cost Effective: When one compares digital distribution with the physical one, the distribution comes out very economical. The cost of one copy of digital print is around INR 5000-7000 whereas, the cost of one physical print is approximately INR 75000-80000.
  • Larger Reach: Digitisation brings the distribution of cinema through satellite technology to remote areas, and thus increases the reach to a larger audience. There was a time when a film released in smaller towns after a gap of 4-5 weeks (or even months) but now one can watch the film on the first day in any theatre in India.
  • Abates the Scope of Piracy: Ever since Indian films started getting a release in other countries, piracy of films and songs has decreased tremendously. With the digital distribution, the movies release on the same day in all places, thus reducing the scope of piracy.
Mughal-e-Azam's color version was re-released in 2004

Mughal-e-Azam’s color version was re-released in 2004

If that was not all, digital distribution has also lead to other interesting benefits for filmmakers. It has given filmmakers an opportunity to re-releasing old classics like Mughal-E-AzamHum DonoGuide and others by giving it an extra touch, which was not possible before.

With all the cost consciousness and focus on reducing piracy, digitisation is the way to go for the Indian film industry. Currently, around 12% of Indian theatres contribute towards digital media out of 13,000 theatres. It is estimated that by the year 2016 there will be around 10,000 digital screens in India.

Raees poster was released almost a year in advance

Raees poster was released almost a year in advance

Digitisation has also improved the scope of marketing for films. You have trailers being launched on online platforms like YouTube and Vimeo months in advance and in the case of Shah Rukh Khan’s Raees, almost a year in advance. Aamir Khan’s PK had launched posters via Whatsapp, Shahid Kapoor’s Haider took digitisation to new levels with ‘live streaming’, which was supported by Facebook. Not just trailers, but the online release of movie songs by production houses has also helped in gathering positive marketing and generating a buzz for the film. Production houses like EROS, Dharma, Rajshree and others all have dedicated YouTube channels where one can enjoy the official release of these song videos.

Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have helped celebrities, production houses and moviegoers form a close knit circle. It has become customary for filmmakers and stars alike to keep their fans updated via these quick and progressive platforms.

Digitisation of cinema is among the many precious gifts from science. A recent benchmark in the digital world is set by TVF Pitchers, an online TV series from India which is currently rated at 9.7/10 on IMDB in the TV Mini Series section.

With the Indian film industry taking huge steps towards employing digitisation, even smaller film have accepted this new wave and are making it big in the market with the help of it. This is a just a preview to the future of digitised India!

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