Shailesh Kapoor: August Diaries: Cautiously Cheerful

20 Aug,2021

Shailesh KapoorBy Shailesh Kapoor


In these times of the pandemic, there isn’t much to differentiate one month from another. But the month of August brought some cheer in its first week, with some laudable performances from Indian athletes at the Tokyo Olympics, none less than the incredible result from the men’s javelin event, where Neeraj Chopra achieved what was unthinkable till even a few months ago.


The Indian Olympics performance sent brands into a tizzy. Moment marketing is the new buzzword, but it went a little too far this time, and PV Sindhu’s representatives rightly stepped in to question if brands are using moment marketing as a backdoor access to celebrity endorsers, without spending any endorsement fee at all. It’s an important positive development, and sportstars outside cricket will benefit from the initiative Sindhu has taken on their behalf.


The seven Indian medals at the Olympics also helped the government, including the Prime Minister, deliver more cheerful messaging. I may be stretching the idea a bit, but how the PM engaged with the athletes this month may be one of the reasons why his Approval Ratings have shown a positive trend this month.


It’s also been a month of some good action on the entertainment front. The Hindi GEC category has gone into a post-lockdown overdrive, with 18 new launches this month, including some high-profiles ones like Balika Vadhu 2 and a new season of Kaun Banega Crorepati. August 15, usually known for its predictable patriotism-led programming, saw a 12-hour grand finale that brought a long but noteworthy season of Indian Idol to an end.


But all is not good on the television front, as the big TV networks continue to battle NTO 2.0 in the courts, hoping for some relief from TRAI’s arbitrary interventions that continue to distract and damage the television business.


Meanwhile, the action on the streaming side continues, with the launch of Bigg Boss OTT on Voot earlier this month. A pre-TV season online is a great idea for a show like Bigg Boss. But what excited me the most here is the branding of the show itself. The word “OTT” has finally made it to the consumer lexicon officially. The category is called “streaming” across most markets in the world, but India often finds its unique nomenclature, and OTT is one such.


The movie theatres are reopening, and the coming months should see new releases trickle in, starting with Akshay Kumar’s Bell Bottom this weekend. It may take another couple of months for some sense of momentum on the theatrical front, and Diwali may be a good tipping point to kick off the post-pandemic journey of the Indian (especially Hindi) theatrical business, which has been on pause mode for more than a year now.


An Indian media diary for this month cannot be complete without a mention of the memorable Lord’s Test that concluded this Monday. The last day saw India pull off one of its most unlikely Test wins, and with some aggression and attitude to boot. Every event of this nature is now associated with the idea of a “Naya Bharat”, an evolving and youthful face of India, an articulation that finds its most definitive in the 2019 blockbuster Uri: The Surgical Strike. Which remind me that August also saw a channel launch with that proposition: Times Now Navbharat HD.


Be it the Indian national team or the mega Indian league of franchises, cricket fans have a packed calendar ahead of them, with the IPL and the T20 World Cup after the remaining three Tests in England.


Let’s hope that the sword hanging over our heads, called the Third Wave, does not spoil what looks like an exciting quarter ahead for the entertainment business in India.


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