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Twitter: Hype, myth and impact on Telugu Cinema

July 30, 2010

I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I say that the definition of Film promotion and advertising has undergone a massive change in the last few years. Traditionally it’s always been the newspapers, magazine and TV which had the upper hand to bridge the gap between films and its audience. In the past few years, the rise of internet has opened new doors in this segment. Social Networking arrived much later, yet it’s one of the biggest things to have occurred in the past five years or so. Orkut, Hi5, Facebook and hundreds of other sites became a part of our psyche. However, it wasn’t until a brand new phenomenon called ‘Tweeting’, that people started talking about the remarkable change that had occurred. Everytime there’s something “new” in the scene it throws in an element of surprise, excitement and hype. Ultimately, the hype stagnates at a certain level and sometimes people become disillusioned as to what the heck they had gotten themselves into. They have the urge to go back to what’s considered the real world. Truth is the perception of reality and alternative reality is highly subjective. It changes accordingly, considering that we live in a bizarre world which desperately tries to strike a balance between herd mentality and individualism. As far as the impact of Twitter on Telugu cinema is concerned, it’s still at a nascent stage. However, there are several interesting facets which are either misunderstood or misinterpreted.

Few days ago, I read this article on where the writer had lashed out at Telugu film celebs (who are on twitter) and stated, in glorious details, that twitter lacks credibility. I couldn’t help but notice the extent to which the writer had gone to conclude that promoting a film on twitter is a waste of time. I vehemently disagree with this perspective. Here are few things which I have noticed:

Motive: Who would have thought that one day we would be so hooked on to ‘140 characters’! Every tweet which your favourite celeb (or star) types is discussed with great fervour. Finally, here was one such medium which almost obliterated the distance between the celeb and his/her fans.

Global Presence: Did you know there were scores of people who follow Telugu cinema closely across the world even from countries like Russia, Poland? I never knew that some of the Telugu film celebs had fans across the globe! If it wasn’t for twitter, to spot them amidst millions of blogs/websites would have been quite an arduous task. Of late, I have come across people who have seen more Telugu films than what most of us back here in Andhra Pradesh manage to!

Followers: Art is a dangerous profession to be in. The probability of people respecting/loving you is as high as the wrath you will earn from your critics. You can’t escape from slandering, libeling especially when you are in films. Besides, the emotions are sky high when it comes to Telugu cinema. (Go check out any of those discussion boards dedicated to stars!) On the other hand, it’s heartening to see thousands of people (including bots/spammers) do give a damn about what a celeb has to say. Whether for good or worse, the online activity keeps you engaged. Right from sharing your ideas, suggestions with your favourite actors to outright libeling, Twitter has given us that freedom. It’s always been that way. It’s always been about people and them expressing ‘what’s on their mind’. And yes, that includes a lot of deranged minds as well.

Despite the presence of millions of people, stars promoting their films and global reach, the question why does publicity on twitter not translate to Box-Office collections continues to remain elusive. It’s because the parameters used to frame the question are highly subjective. The way I see it, it’s too early to predict what future has in store for us. Twitter existed before the traditional media and the celebs themselves started to give it a thought! It sustained the onslaught of millions of people who had no idea what they could do with this new tool and how to use it effectively. It will continue to prevail with or without the presence of celebs. Perhaps, it’s the collective consciousness of people. No tweet can alter your perspective unless you entrust your complete belief and faith in that person. You will still rely on your intuition, interest and a friendly suggestion to watch a film instead of listening to your favourite actor’s pleas to watch his/her film.

I am a stalker on the internet and I have no qualms in accepting that fact. In doing so, not only have I come across several people whose ideas and opinions have blown me away but also I had a sneak peek of their virtual identities. And I will always be grateful to Twitter for that; everyone’s there to share what’s on their mind right from Roger Ebert to Rajeev Masand and so on. They share everything which they deem necessary and as a film journalist I have no reason to crib about it. Every tweet from a celeb becomes fodder to fill columns in newspapers and already a lot of websites have adapted this trend. But Twitter will not replace traditional media…you still need indepth reports, analysis and interviews to get a complete idea of what’s happening.

Sometimes, we get delusional when it comes to real and virtual identities. We try to be someone else on the internet. No wonder, you can’t go on being like that forever, especially on twitter. The chances that you will hit a snag are pretty high in such a state. What I love the most about Twitter is that it gives you an opportunity to explore someone’s persona via tweets. It’s more about people and their psyche. Perhaps you will realize that you have a better IQ than some celebs. Perhaps you will come across things you didn’t know about some celebs. Perhaps you will start liking or hating someone for their opinions. Perhaps you will find a lot of them to be boring, who have no idea what to tweet. But the fact that everyone’s hanging around to make sense of a powerful medium of connecting people is inspiring. Twitter probably won’t change our world completely, but it certainly has led to a paradigm shift of how we express our thoughts. I can’t think beyond 140 characters anymore! #FML #Facepalm

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 30, 2010 5:30 pm

    I have said it before many times – 2010 will be called as the Year of Twitter. The velocity with which it penetrated into our lives is unparalleled. No celeb was keen about Orkut when it hit us few years ago. No celeb was secure about facebook when it was becoming the next big thing on the internet.But Twitter changed everything.Celebs can interact with fans,without any privacy or security concerns because they have the power to choose the people they want to talk with,even among fans.Today, in Indian Cinema, we have not only newbie teenage actors on twitter but also highly established artists like Amitabh Bacchan or Javed Akhtar (who tweets poetry).

    Coming to the film promotions,twitter is a tool and people are using it.So no harm there.Afterall it is democracy.

    The only loophole is this whole system (twitter-celeb-friends-fans-talk-discussion-interaction – let all this be called as a system) is the media. A journalist can simply use the twitter updates of a celeb to make a news-story. And not just twitter but even blogs. A case in point is:Ramgopal Varma’s blog (or twitter). When RGV writes on his blog, about his personal experiences, a journalist simply translates the whole article into Telugu and publishes it in newspaper. Some readers assume that the journalist interviewed that celeb. Now when some reader can assume it, cant an editor of newspaper assume the same, if, lets say, the editor is not familiar with RGV’s blog. How will any publisher/editor know whether the journalist really gathered details through interviews or by simple copy-paste from a blog. Will these editors keep tracking blogs of celebs just to verify the honesty of journalists? And if the journalist is merely ripping off a blog content, is his work worth the pay he is getting? And also, if a journalist is ripping content from an artist’s blog/tweet, is it not equivalent to copyright infringement?

    Secondly, there are lot of chances that a twitter-talk can be used to manufacture useless gossip and even unnecessary sensationalism. Look at RGV’s response to telugu actor Rana’s tweet about music – RGV named some prominent composers and told that they buried the music that Rana was talking about. Clearly RGV was sounding sarcastic and it was meant to be a joke or say to pull his leg (which is evident, by facial expressions, only in real life interactions).But not many people understood it and we have newspapers or online news websites carrying headlines – “X,Y & Z buried good music – RGV”. Can you imagine what X,Y & Z might feel after they get to read it. The media doesnt understand what is “lighter vein” comment and what is “real opinion” and it doesnt want to leave any chance to miss even a smallest news that has the huge potential to create a sensation. Hence they publish everything. But imagine, how much of paper-space is wasted! How much of time and effort is being wasted. And more importantly, people are taken for a ride.

    Celebs,people & media are now happy about the tool in their hands – Twitter. Like a kid who gets a new toy, they are using it, responsibly & irresponsibly. But very soon, as some dangers set in, the charm of the toy wears off and they will slowly begin to use it more responsibly. Meanwhile, it is high time the media decides how they want to uphold the ideals of journalism.

    (sorry for miniblogging)

  2. August 19, 2010 10:09 am

    Twitter: Hype, myth and impact on Telugu Cinema.Nice this in our website

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