“Our active participation as Desi Pop Culturalists is what will further the conversations that can create a positive social impact”: Kenneth Hopkins on TEDx Gateway

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Bolly Con International founder, Kenneth Hopkins, makes several valid points and reveals what’s potentially in store for the Desi Pop Culture Renaissance in his TEDx Gateway speech. Check it out below:

Hi, I am Kenneth Hopkins

The reason I am up here is that for the last few years I have been on a quest to discover as
much as I can about a very special connection that we all share as people of this
magnificent subcontinent. I would go so far as to describe this connection as a soft currency that only seems to be increasing in value every single day.

SRK’s TED talk

But before I tell you any more about what I learned on my journey, I must ask a question: Who here doesn’t know that SRK did a TED talk  Clearly not the Majority (Smile like you have a secret to share). Well, If you don’t then in SKR’s
words: “I feel really sad for you.”

Wasn’t it a historic moment? Didn’t it make you feel awesome to watch that talk? I am sure my
fellow SRK Universe buddies will agree that it was everything. FYI with about 56 chapters
worldwide, they are the biggest organized fan club of any superstar on the planet.

As for me, I was balling my eyes out as I felt in my desi heart: Bro, Apna Time Aa Gaya!
even though the now very famous lyrics had not yet made it to Pop Culture status at the time.
(wink and smile). It was an overwhelming moment that bore testament to the global impact of Desi Pop Culture to hear SRK tell his story as a representative of all humanity talking about his own tryst – life, the world, time & technology.

It marked a pivotal moment in world culture and it really doesn’t get more TED than that! A
true ode to Technology Entertainment and Design! Stimuli + Visual Storytelling. We have learned from various testimonies of sensory deprivation chamber users, that the
human mind is a sucker for stimuli. It’s such a hardwired characteristic of humans, that the mind even create it’s own stimuli if senses are restricted.

That’s why we love video content the most! Digital Marketers will tell you that If Content
is King then Video Content is Emperor! This is why visual storytelling plays the most
important role, I would argue, in all cultures!
Culture. Sanskruti, aka, Culture as we’ve known in India for ages, is that magical thread that binds us with common world views, languages, stories, mythologies and sagas.

Culture has two prime categories most would say. High Culture and Pop Culture, And as
important as High Culture maybe with its college of academic peers deciding what is and
isn’t High Culture, Pop Culture is what perseveres, assuring it’s longevity simply by achieving Critical Mass! Jo jitna Dikhega Vo utna Bikega. Desi Pop Culture as you may have deducted yourselves by now is the Pop Culture that originates from our majestic Indian peninsula.

But our Desi Pop Culture, just like our very diverse nation seems to be very fragmented at
the moment and hence it may come across as incoherent and disoriented, but trust me when
I say, not for long! A domestic cultural convergence unlike ever seen before is about to make its arrival! We are indeed at the threshold of a Desi Pop-Cultural Renaissance!

The Desi Pop Culture Renaissance

Don’t take my word for it, the box office numbers indicate that our industry is experiencing a huge paradigm shift. There are authors and studios who are creating universes for us to get immersed in. I refer to this phenomenon as the Maslovian hierarchy of content. Derived of course from the Maslovian Model of The hierarchy of human needs.

After systematic impoverishment, induced by colonization, and after decades of
post-independence recuperation, finally, socio-economic conditions seem to be picking
up across the nation in an age when an extreme technological revolution is upon us and more of us are able to ebb towards Self Actualization. A very mappable content ecosystem emerges with content creators, content discovery agents, agencies, platforms, and most importantly us, the content consumers.

Some of us are Skimmers, consumers who take a little taste from time to time from different dishes, some of us are Swimmers, enthusiasts who might go a little deeper in selected genres and then you have the Desi Pop culture Aficionados and geeks whom we refer to as Divers who will tell u all about their favorites. This might sound similar to UX audience mapping models that some of you might be familiar with.

With this new collective enlightenment comes new stories and new legends, new versions of old legends that will emerge and what an era of self-awareness it is going to be. It has already begun! What a glorious day it will be when our box office is dominated not by imported content and Western Pop Culture but our very own homegrown Desi Pop Culture.

The numbers and incubating projects indicate that this day is not far at all! We are witnessing the future of Desi Cinema and Desi OTT unfurl as 4G brings more connectivity and disruptions. Several top content producers are even prepping for the VR revolution to hit!

What the Future Holds

So what does the future hold then? To give you an idea, I saw a proud desi kid with a pagdi at the Eiffel tower just the day before yesterday with a T-shirt that read “Apna Time Aayega”, and I could not stop smiling like an oaf. People may have thought I was a little crazy, but Hey.

He is the future of Desi Pop Culture: Desi Digital Natives from different part of the country and the world, who make no apologies for who they are and what content they love and honestly, they have no reason to make any apologies. At least not anymore.

That kid represents every Desi Pop Culture Ambassador who is a testament that Bollywood is more than an industry, It’s the term the world uses to describe Desi Pop-Culturalnmovement. It is the best Soft Power Export we have!

Though it’s seeds were sown decades ago & we stand on the shoulders of giants who built this phenomenon called Bollywood in a world finding it’s feet like SRK describes in his TED talk, much like it’s western counterpart, Bollywood too is evolving and growing into a more powerful, more responsible and more woke phenomenon.

Plug

And Because Festivals and Gatherings and Conventions play an important role when it
comes to Culture, I started this little project called BollyCon which is The Desi Pop Culture
Convention as a little haven to unite those like you and me who belong to the Desi
Pop-Cultural tribe, this movement.

And also because, isn’t it about time that Bollywood got it’s very own Convention? A
convention to celebrate every last drop of Desi Pop Culture? We need such gatherings
that bring us together across creed, ethnicities & demographics. Especially in such a
Diverse Nation. That is what Pop Culture Does, it unites us.

Join the Movement

So to each one of you who is a Desi Pop Culture Ambassador I say, You Do You with all
your heart! Let’s all own and embrace our truth! Let’s completely reject this post-colonial, elitist self-loathing when it comes to loving our own content. What I have learned from this Quest that I embarked upon is that our active participation as Desi Pop Culturalists is what will further the conversations that can create a positive social impact.

Let’s embrace the representations of our Jaded Selves in the stories we tell through Cinema and Content at large. Let’s celebrate newer versions, renditions, and recreations of older songs and stories and  let’s get immersed in the pools of new homegrown universes. Let’s totally celebrate and binge on some PVR, Sony Live, JioTV, Alt Balaji and even some TikTok & Let’s be part of this movement, this Desi Pop-Cultural renaissance.

Let’s cultivate a Desi Pop Culture that we can be proud of when our descendants are looking back in time at us and what we did, perhaps in a Museum Archive or perhaps when they will watch a TED Talk about it.

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