Here is the full transcript of actor Rana Daggubati’s TEDx Talk: Redefining Storytelling at TEDxHyderabad.
Rana Daggubati – Indian actor
So before I begin, I’ll give you a little disclaimer of how I actually grew up and what the movies mean to me. When I was a young kid, I thought Mahatma Gandhi was someone who looked like Ben Kingsley, and I thought Adolf Hitler was a look-alike of Charlie Chaplin.
So, from here on you decide if you want to take me seriously or not, because that’s how I grew up. You can either think this guy loves the movies, and he’s here, and he’s continuing to work here, or you could think that I was a dumb kid in school who just went to the movies.
So let me tell you how it all started, not for me but for the world itself. We all know the times of kings, where kings governed everything, but the kings had something very very special. They wanted to showcase culture to the world, to the neighboring kingdoms.
So who is showcasing culture? Artists were showcasing culture. Dancers, musicians, poets, people with great literary works, and then what happened? The kings disappeared, and we lived in the world of democracy. I’m sure life is better but not so good for the artists at that point because all of you guys weren’t paying money to the artists.
And it all started in about 1894, when these two fine gentlemen, the Lumiere brothers, discovered something called cinema, where you projected a moving image from film onto a big screen, and there was a lot of public gathering. That’s when the artists found their space again.
And as technology kept evolving, when silent cinema became film which had sound in it: musicians came in; sound engineers came in. When it moved into color: artists came in; painters came in; and so on and so forth. So by somewhere in the early 1900s, about 1914, 1915 was where cinema really was the keeper of the arts, where a bunch of different artists from different spaces came together to tell this beautiful world in their format of storytelling, which was cinema. And that’s where it all started for everyone. And India came in exactly that time.
1913 was when Raja Harishchandra, the first Indian silent feature film, was made. I don’t know if you guys know this image, but this was the first ever film screening in France in the late 1800s. So, when India came in, we started with Raja Harishchandra, which was a silent film. We obviously took this to the same era of technology coming into the movies. Now, that’s where – that’s about 100 years ago, and for about 50 years after that is when we began, we came into the movies.
My grandfather was a farmer in a little village in Andhra, said, “I want to tell stories,” and he moved to Madras and started making movies. That’s a poster of our first ever feature film. And when we came on, we were a film production house.
What is a film production house? It’s a house that makes movies and then eventually gives it to a studio to distribute it, to exhibit it, and so on and so forth. And then we moved to a city called Hyderabad, and it was an ever-evolving space, where we were given land and said, “Let’s make cinema an industry.”
So, then there we go; we came, started production; we moved in, from there to distributing our own content to exhibitors, to different people. We went into exhibition, which was actually directly working with the theaters or owning, leasing those theaters, or building theaters to see to that the story that we are telling transcends perfectly to each and every one of you.
And then what did we know? We needed infrastructure to make better and better movies. We built the film laboratory, we built sound stages, we built sound design spaces, enhancing digital theater sound, visual effects, all of those to tell better and better stories.
But what happened then? It all changed. It all changed how? It changed with the medium of the digital world. We had something called a film laboratory, where film used to be short processed and then ultimately made ready with multiple copies of prints for all of you to watch in the cinemas. With the rise of digital that went away, so the infrastructure was not the same anymore.
What we realized was we were storytellers who were trying to make a formatted business out of this. Now, while cinema is evolving like this, the other part of the world was really fast evolving, where television came in, and that’s when people decided to sit at the luxury of their own homes with their family members, with their loved ones and start watching cinema there.
Then came on the giants of the Amazon’s and the Netflix’ were there, and your smartphone, which is now part of all of us. And you started watching stories there.
So, what did we have to do? We have to tell stories in every single platform that’s available. Now, this thing called the new ecosystem was something that we didn’t understand, something that nobody even now still understands where it’s heading.