Artistic freedom is a should, says CBFC member Vani Tripathi Tikoo


Vani Tripathi Tikoo wears many hats, and fabulously so. A member of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), actor, producer and a theatre activist, she emphasises how women have forever been great multi-taskers and nobody can take that away from them. Currently, it’s her report Embracing Non-Linearity: The Future of India’s Entertainment Industry — that she has co-written with renowned filmmaker and president of the Film and Television Institute of India Shekhar Kapur — which has been the talking point. Vani talks to us about the changing face of entertainment industry.

  • Can you please tell us about Embracing Non-Linearity: The Future of India’s Entertainment Industry?

The report is commissioned by the Esya Centre, an innovation-centric think-tank. Shekhar and I have been in talks to do it for a while. As it happened, he was stuck in India as he went for the recce of the film to Uttarakhand. This gave us the opportunity to work on it. Starting March, we have spent about eight months on it. Here we analyse the impact of technology on storytelling and the role of OTT, artificial intelligence, augmented reality and virtual reality in transforming how stories are told. Indian entertainment is at the cusp of a transformation — from a linear format of storytelling towards a more dynamic and non-linear mode via digital platforms. The report deconstructs the drivers of this fundamental transition, and outlines opportunities and challenges for creators, industry and the government.

  • The report comes a few weeks after the move to bring streaming services under the I&B Ministry… is there a connection? Does it have any say on the regulations the government has been thinking about?

Our report has no relation with the government’s move; it is also not a study of censorship on OTT. That question comes rather later; we are currently in the stage to understand this space first. It’s not just Netflix and Amazon who are in the game; but YouTube, artificial intelligence, augmented reality and virtual reality also come together on different platforms and impact lives. We must understand this first before we speak of regulation. Creative freedom is a must for the new normal to thrive but having said that, we do feel that self-regulation code is the way forward. That I have been part of CBFC for six years now, I am certain that the ministry would take cognisance.

  • How do you juggle your different roles?

Women are fabulous multitaskers and I believe no one can take that from us. At the same time I don’t feel much should be made out of it. Growing up, I could strike a balance between my studies and drama school well. It’s all a question of priority and striking the right balance.

  • How has OTT changed the face of the entertainment industry? What do you think about OTT being brought under censorship?

It’s all too new to figure out something concrete. Most of the people have taken to OTT on their smart-phones, making it a very individual activity. And that makes the question of censorship different. Films need to be certified for there could be 500 unrelated people watching a film together!

  • OTT became people’s go-to medium of entertainment through the lockdown, have you too been guilty of binge-watching? Any favourites?

My days have been busy but after finishing at night, I have enjoyed some films more rather than web series. Thrillers have been my favourite. One of the films that I truly enjoyed was Serious Men.

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