From Ajanta Frescoes to Digital Screens

By Pickle  June 15, 2021
Soumitra Ranade

What we create today as IP should not only reflect our culture, but it should also influence and construct it. It is up to us, the creators, to choose the way forward.

By Soumitra Ranade
Creative Head & CEO
Paperboat DesignStudios

Intellectual Property (IP) is the talk of the town today. Infact it has been so for the last few years and quite understandably so. The coming of new-age technologies and their stupendous growth have opened up entirely new possibilities for all stakeholders, be it the government and their agencies, distributors, exhibitors, satellite channels, OTT platforms and other key participants in this continually expanding arena.

But most importantly, what does it mean for the creators themselves! IPs we create is an important aspect of our art and culture. We as a nation are known for our extraordinary art in the form of sculpture, painting, architecture, literature, cinema, music, etc.

It is the murals at Ajanta, sculptures at Kailash temple, Kangra miniatures, Mughal architecture, Hindustani and the Carnatic music, and so many other vibrant renditions in various art forms that define us as a nation, as a culture.

We are after all, what we create and we are after all what we like to see. What we create today as IP should not only reflect our culture, but it should also influence and construct it. It is up to us, the creators, to choose the way forward. What kind of a nation do we want to build? How do we want the rest of the world to see us?

There are three fundamental entities that contribute towards making of any IP: the funders, the creative personnel and the audiences.

These three could sometimes have different interests and it is for all three to strike a balance so that the IPs we create have high standards and that these standards keep increasing. A synergy between the three is vital for us to build, promote and nurture creativity and innovation.

Throughout history whenever there was complete synergy between the three, a high level of art was achieved; from as diverse periods as the Renaissance or the Chola period. Whenever there have been gaps between the three, the art of that period has suffered.

For a country that has such an enormous treasure of stories; of images and sounds, of colors and textures, of melodies and rhythms, very few Indian IPs have crossed the shores and gone global. Many have tried for several years and yet only a few have succeeded. What makes our IPs mostly confined within our borders?

What we create here in our country – not just as a geographical unit but as a composite culture, must I feel, reflect our stories, our dreams, our images and our sounds.

Our IPs need to be rooted in our land, in its diverse fragrances and its distinct shades. We must tell our extraordinary stories through our extraordinary audiovisual traditions. For this to happen, we first need to be proud of the immense wealth that we have. Instead of looking constantly towards the west, we must look within ourselves, within our own souls and that’s where the real Indian IPs exist.

Only those artists who have truly been rooted in the culture of our land have gone global in the real sense of the word, be it Satyajit Ray, Pt. Ravi Shankar or M.F.Hussain amongst others. It is always the most local that eventually becomes global; there are enough examples from all over the world to substantiate this. Even Superman, probably one of the most popular global icons has perhaps the most American soul. The Disney collection and the Manga art and animation are some of the other examples that come immediately to mind.

In recent times, the two animation films from India—Goopi Gawaiyaa Bagha Bajaiyaa and Bombay Rose—have crossed the boarders and have gone international in a big way. Both these films are rooted in the Indian aesthetic not only thematically but also stylistically.

There is however a catch here! If we go back to our roots without innovation, we will only be repeating ourselves. If we render the same stories in the same ol’ ways we will become irrelevant for the newer generations. We need to rethink and reinterpret. While we do this, we must bring in that edge, that zeitgeist of our times, the spirit of our era.

This is where I think the government can play a key role. The Services Exports Promotion Council, set up by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India, is a great initiative in this direction. The government stands alone, away from the other three entities and has the power and capital to give direction to things to come and I anticipate exciting times ahead.

We can’t repaint the Ajanta frescoes all over again. There’s no point in doing that or even attempting to do that. But ignoring them would only be a colossal tragedy. What we must do is to reimagine Ajanta that will be represented in a form that is modern. That is contemporary.

And we must be on our toes because who knows as early as tomorrow morning the medium might change. Today it’s the digital screen but tomorrow it may be something else. One thing however will remain constant, always, for eternity – the Bodhisattva Padmapani!

We must embrace it.

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