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TECH TALK: Leisure and Entertainment: Television (continued)

December 13th, 2001 · No Comments

Technology has made all the difference on the back-end in Television – on the broadcasting and distribution side. The front-end has remained largely unaffected. One gadget that may actually do quite well in India is the Personal Video Recorder (PVR). Writes Laurie Flynn in the New York Times:

Personal video recorders from TiVo, SonicBlue and UltimateTV allow viewers to record programs, sometimes two at a time, store them to view later, pause and replay them as they are being broadcast. To varying degrees, all the recorders let viewers fast-forward through programs, including the commercials if personal digital recording does catch on, it could significantly alter the way people watch TV. “People are really drawn to the idea,” said Mr. Nick Donatiello, president of Odyssey Research in San Francisco. “It gives them what they want: choice and control.”

PVRs have had only limited success in the US, with a total installed base of less than half a million. The situation may be quite different in India. Considering that there are so many interesting soaps being broadcast in parallel on Indian television in the evenings, one may want to think of recording some of them on the PVRs and then watching these on weekends. That may be just the programming needed for our Saturdays and Sundays!

Movies

Movies like HAHK, MPK, Lagaan, Dosti, Sholay, Deewar, Dil To Pagal Hai and Mother India stop us in our tracks whenever we see them. A good movie is like a picturesque sunset — the memories linger on for long after the event. It envelops you, making you forget the world around. A good film makes you laugh and cry with its characters. It touches your heart. It makes you want to stay still long after the credits have passed, savouring what you have watched for that wee bit extra moment. A good movie stirs, captivates and inspires.

The best of Indian movies, with their songs, celebrate Indian traditions and values, bringing forth the depth and variety of human relationships, and creating a visual tapestry as rich as India herself. The best movies are more than just a few hours of entertainment; their sweet taste and after-effects fade away ever so slowly. Their stars become role models, their characters spawn a generation of children named after them. Their dialogues become a part of our vocabulary, their songs resonate with our lives. Our definitions of friendship and romance, of love and sacrifice become defined by our movies. Good movies and their music are as much part of our lives as family and friends.

Films and their escapist fare have been a staple diet of India’s leisure activities for more than 50 years. Little changed until the early 1990s. The challenge then was video piracy. While this still remains a bugbear of the industry (most new films are shown on cable TV illegally within the first few weeks of their release), movies now face competition not just from alternate forms of entertainment like television, but also from within with escalating costs and falling revenues.

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