As you lazily scroll through the cinema feeds, you come across numbers-box offi ce collections, the YouTube view counts of trailers, screen counts-and you’re often told they are terrifi c achievements. A vast part of cinema discussions, these days, involve the casual use of such massive numbers. On account of the desensitising effects of over-exposure, some of these fi gures are beginning to seem less coherent with each authoritative tweet, with each self-aggrandising Facebook post. One such press release declared that Badrinath Ki Dulhania has neared the 100-crore mark.
You can’t but dimly remember a time not so long ago when this was considered to be an aspirational fi gure, when this separated the legendary from the great. Before you can wrap your head around it, a trade analyst predicts that Baahubali 2 will likely cross the `350-crore mark. As these numbers get thrown about by authorities and fans, they begin to seem less tangible, their value less discernible. It’s hard to understand that which distinguishes the good from the bad, harder to recognise the great from the good. When your fi lm grosses `100 crore, do you feel elated or relieved? Perhaps the most publicised statistic over the last week was the view count of Baahubali 2’s trailer. 25 million, they screamed. 50 million, they rejoiced. As I’m writing this, the fi gure is 65 million supposedly.
You can see why the makers are excited. Why’s your average Joe thrilled about this count? It’s not an exaggeration to say that there’s more talk about the count than on content. It’s in keeping with the times. You can’t talk about the rain anymore without it becoming a conversation over the number of mm the city needs. Cold numbers have never been more alive. Films want to show that they’re doing well, even if they aren’t. Success meets are quickly held.
An illusion of success is the norm of the day. It shouldn’t come as a surprise at a time when the quality of a post or a tweet is determined by the number of times it has been liked or retweeted. After of the impressive Maanagaram, I told my friend how satisfying the fi lm had been, how well the director has exhibited control over the script and the medium. My friend nodded seriously. “Its collections are also steadily increasing each day.” That it seems like a perfectly natural response is an indictment of the nature of our conversations.