NFT (Representative image: Shutterstock)
For Bollywood and its megastars, the new buzzword is non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which are unique digital assets that have minted money for artists and entrepreneurs in the West.
While Amitabh Bachchan has become the first Indian actor to roll out NFT, southern superstar Rajinikanth has already dabbled in this space, not directly but through his movie Sivaji: the Boss.
The film was recently trending on Twitter when fans took to the micro-blogging site to celebrate 14 years of Sivaji's release.
It was the film's popularity that prompted two teenagers to start their NFT marketplace with Sivaji: The Boss.
In July this year, Yash Rathod, 18, and Shaamil Karim, 17, launched their NFT marketplace Diginoor.io to offer digital collectibles of the Rajinikanth movie, but to a limited audience.
NFTs in the film world can be digital collectibles such as iconic scenes or posters of a movie, among others. An NFT resides on a blockchain, which acts like a ledger from which anybody can check who owns the asset and whether it is authentic. It is not transferable, or fungible, like numerous digital items.
The Thalaiva effect
"We opened it for friends and family and the platform saw USD 15,000- USD 20,000 worth NFTs sold in the network of friends," Karim told Moneycontrol.
Talking about the craze for the movie, Karim recalled an email from a person who bought an NFT of Sivaji: The Boss' iconic helicopter scene for USD 1,500.
"He (the buyer) mailed us saying that when he was watching the movie with his friends and when the helicopter scene was on TV he told all that he owns the scene," said Karim.
This is why Karim and Rathod will soon be launching the next drop of Sivaji: The Boss NFTs soon on the beta version of their platform which was launched a few days ago.
More movie NFTs
Along with Sivaji: The Boss, for which the founders struck a deal with AVM Productions, the company that produced the film, the duo has partnered with Reliance Entertainment and Mango Mass.
From September onwards, the platform will have 15-20 digital collectibles of a movie every week including films from South as well as Bollywood ventures.
While there are 5,000-6000 movie titles in the content pipeline, digital collectibles of films including Rajinikanth's Chandramukhi and Kabali, Mersal will be on the platform soon.
In the NFT space, digital collectibles belonging to the field of cinema seem to be in focus with many platforms adding movie NFTs on their platforms.
Along with Diginoor.io and BeyondLife.club, a venture between Rhiti Entertainment and GuardianLink.io that will be offering Bollywood actor Bachchan's NFT collectibles, WazirX, a crypto exchange that recently launched an NFT marketplace will soon launch movie- focused NFTs.
Another platform that is offering cinema-focused NFTs includes Singapore-based media investment holding company Vistas Media Capital that recently expanded into the blockchain entertainment business with the launch of Fantico. The platform offers digital collectibles from Indian cinema including the original theatrical artwork of Mughal-E-Azam and showcards of the 1972 classic Sholay with the signature of C Mohan, who designed the movie logo.
It's not just India experimenting with movie NFTs, Hollywood is keenly looking at this space. In fact, a series called Stoner Cats, where Hollywood actors Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, and Jane Fonda are lending their voices to the characters in the series will be accessible to viewers through NFTs.
So, any viewer who wants to watch the series needs NFTs to access the content.
Movies are a great way to introduce a concept like NFT in the market as the country has a strong fanbase for films, and the audience can be educated about the concept, Karim said.
Production houses are also opening up to the idea of NFTs along with actors which he said will help in making more people aware about NFTs.
Movie promotion via NFTs
Some production houses are looking at NFTs to promote their upcoming releases.
"We are looking at bringing collectibles of unreleased films as production houses are looking at NFTs as part of their promotional campaign where the buyer can meet the actors," said Karim.
With stars and production houses partnering with NFT platforms to offer digital collectibles, the focus now is to get traction from users.
According to Karim, there are 15-20 million dealing with cryptocurrency in India who don't have avenues to spend it. "For them, one way is NFTs," he added.
Utkarsh Sinha, managing director, Bexley advisors, said, "Indian buyers have been surprisingly active in the cryptocurrency space. It is entirely possible that the NFT space also attracts a lot of Indian attention."