While scrolling through the popular social media app Instagram, one can come across a diverse range of content. From your favourite celebrities sharing a glimpse of their lives to people expressing themselves through short form videos or Reels, there is no shortage of entertainment on the app.
Apart from this, we have also started seeing a lot of cinema related content. Many Instagram pages have managed to build a loyal fan base by regularly making content on Bollywood and Indian cinema. We talked to three such popular pages, namely Sukooonghar, Fables of Film and NotWhyRal, to understand how Instagram has given a lot of cinephiles the ability to express themselves.
Sakshu Singh’s Instagram page Sukooonghar reimagines the background scores of some of the most popular and beloved scenes from films and shows. In her own words, it is a “peaceful or calming place for anyone and everyone who seeks it.” With 61.3K followers, Sukooonghar has cemented its status as one of the most popular Instagram pages in India that makes content related to Indian cinema. She started Sukooonghar in 2016 as a writing page but by 2019 streamlined her content as she discovered her thoughts about cinema and background scores resonate with a lot of people.
Sukooonghar’s content is quite unique, with a personal touch that resonates with fans. Talking about the process of creating her posts, Sakshu says, “As I’m heavily influenced by background scores, I start with picking out a song firsthand then hear it over and over again till the time a movie or show scenes start playing in my head along with it. That also means lesser regular videos and I have tried to do it the other way round like other similar page owners, somehow it just never works out for me.”
Talking about her sources of inspiration, Sakshu says, “Music is the hero on my page. You know the concept of hearing music when you see your beloved, that’s how I draw my inspirations from. I’m almost always consumed by the voices of A.R. Rahman Sir, Neeraj Shridhar, Sreeram, Suzanne D’mello, Chinmayi Sripada to name a few.”
One of the reasons why people like Sukooonghar’s posts is because they remind them of Hindi songs that they love, but haven’t listened to in a while. The most popular video on the page is an edit of ‘Hey Ya!’ from Kartik Calling Kartik reimagined as a background score for scenes featuring Peter Kavinsky and Lara Jean from To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. The video has three million views.
Ankit Sinha runs Fables of Film, a page on Instagram where he writes analysis pieces on cinema. Since its inception in 2019, Ankit has written more than five hundred posts on different aspects of films. “The sole focus of it was to look at Indian Cinema through an analytical lens and thus bring more discourse about it on social media. This included talking about film songs as a part of film form itself, a way of storytelling of its own that was unique to our culture, and not just as something to be enjoyed frivolously,” he says.
One of the most unique things about his page is that his work has been clubbed under various categories according to what aspect of a film he is analysing. “I have tried to make my work more identifiable by categorising them under various series with particular names. So my song analysis pieces come under ‘Decoding the song’. The series on finding parallels between separate films/scenes/songs comes under the series ‘Art Parallel’. It has helped me characterise the page a little bit in the followers’ mind.”
Ankit is a cinephile who especially admires Guru Dutt and Paul Thomas Anderson. However, he says that his affinity for film music is what inspired his niche of work. “I am a strong believer of the usage of film songs as a narrative device and I’m always on the lookout for how films use it interestingly, as much as also being disappointed when they are used only for some minor entertainment. And my analysis of songs/music is rooted in my analysis of films, and vice versa. I don’t see them as separate entities. But regardless of this too, I try to experience cinema in a very musical way because a musical rhythm is inherent to the experience of film. If there is one art form that cinema most closely resembles to it is music, because they are both very sensory experiences and flow in a similar manner.”
Apart from writing analytical pieces, he also curates and edits stills and videos from films. The most popular video from Fables of Film is an analysis of the song ‘Kun Faya Kun’ from Rockstar presented in a Reel format. The video has 860K views on the platform. Fables of Films also boasts of a whopping 27.9k followers on Instagram.
Maybe one of the most idiosyncratic Instagram pages on Indian cinema is Sudarshan P’s Notwhyral. In his own words, Notwhyral is a page that “is supposed to have clips that would have gone viral if there was internet back in the day but over time I have started posting clips that just wouldn’t happen now. That is just so refreshing when you look at it through the context of how things are today.”
Since he started the page in February, NotWhyral has amassed a ‘community’ of 18.4K people on the app. From precious interviews of artists like late Shashi Kapoor and Amjad Khan, rare footage from concerts of Kishore Kumar and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan to clips of A-listers throwing tantrums on set, NotWhyral has a truly surprising range of video clips.
NotWhyral’s success comes from carefully curated and edited videos, and also from its diverse audience who have varied interests. “I feel the generation that has grown up having YouTube as a major form of entertainment craves sincerity in interviews. I see a lot of young people, around 16-18 year old, liking the way Dilip Kumar spoke Urdu, which is very interesting. Maybe millennials grew up watching TV that took itself too seriously and so craved an informal MTV or the use of slangs. But the generation that grew up watching YouTube, I feel, likes watching Guftagoo with Irrfan and Neelesh Misra. There is so much sarcasm and self referencing that sincerity becomes refreshing to watch. For example, I never expected Gen Z to find a clip of Gulzar meeting Amrita Pritam interesting,” he explains.
As he prophesized before starting the page, a lot of his videos do go viral in real time. His most famous video of Saif Ali Khan’s hilarious candour during an interview has one million views on his page, and can now be found on various platforms like Twitter, Facebook and news portals. Some of his other popular videos include that of Aamir Khan putting up posters of Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak around Mumbai, AR Rahman walking off a stage without singing, as requested by Gul Panag and the team of Lagaan practicing the song ‘Ghanan Ghanan.’
Why is Instagram such a popular platform to make content on Bollywood and cinema? “I think cinephile accounts have always been around: People who were good at writing about films just moved from blogs and video essays to Instagram posts, which is great,” he shares.
Sakshu of Sukoonghar says that the rise of cinema-related content stems from nostalgia, “The kind of 2 years we have had, people loved living in nostalgia. With lesser releases, OTT platforms made us go back to the early 2000s songs and movies and reminiscing that era through movies again made us stay in that zone longer than we thought. It somehow gave us a comfort of home,” she signs off.
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