If you ask me, home entertainment is one of the biggest blessings humanity has given itself. Sure, there is no competition when it comes to going to the theatres to watch a film in a dark room surrounded by popping Dolby Sound but none of us can take the time out to go every weekend. The answer to the time-consuming process of travelling to the cinemas, watching a film and coming back is home entertainment. Today, we have thousands of films at our disposal to watch on streaming platforms which leaves us confused as to which one to choose.
A film released in the theatres is guaranteed to launch on some or the other streaming platforms in just a few weeks which has killed the exclusivity of the cinema-going experience overall. However, this was not always the case. Home entertainment has come a long way and we’re going to explore its major phases in the following paragraphs. So hop on cinephiles, let’s embark on an entertainment journey –
Once upon a time, back in the 1980s, the VHS tape reigned supreme. The clunky, rectangle-shaped boxes took up half the shelf space in your living room. Remember the thrill of rushing to rent out a VHS at your local entertainment store, hoping your favourite movie was in stock? It was like winning the lottery, only with more popcorn. I was lucky enough to experience that euphoria before DVDs took over the world.
But alas, VHS had its quirks. For starters, the joy of movie night was often interrupted by the dreaded “rewind” command. Ah, the joy of watching a tape slowly rewind, wasting precious minutes of our lives. It was like watching grass grow, but less thrilling.
And let’s not forget the infamous “tracking” button on the VCR, the mysterious solution to fuzzy, distorted images. Trying to find that sweet spot between clear visuals and a coherent plot was like trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube blindfolded. Hours of adjusting later, we’d either have a headache or a clear picture—though the two were often interchangeable.
Then, in the early 2000s, along came DVDs, the shiny discs that promised superior quality and unparalleled convenience. Suddenly, our shelves transformed into mini-libraries, and we delighted in the ability to skip directly to our favourite scenes with a mere press of a button. It was a magical time, as long as you didn’t mind spending half an hour hunting for that elusive DVD remote. I remember bringing home a DVD player back in the era when movie piracy was at its peak. Shady DVD sellers would sell pirated versions of films with as many as 7-8 films in one DVD. Back in the day as a kid, buying the pirated DVD had its own thrill as none of us even realised we were committing a criminal offence. Luckily, the era of pirated DVDs ended somewhere around 2009 when Salman Khan’s action blockbuster Wanted was leaked a day before its release in HD which also prompted the makers to make an anti-piracy CID episode, you just had to be there!
Enter the era of streaming, where the boundaries of home entertainment expanded like a buffet table at an all-you-can-eat restaurant. Suddenly, the world was at our fingertips, or rather, our remote controls. With the advent of streaming services, we waved goodbye to the agonizing trips to the video rental store. No more agonizing over which movie to watch, only to find out it had been rented by someone else. Now, we had an entire library of content, ready to be binged upon, whenever and wherever we pleased. But, oh, the paradox of choice! The vast sea of options often left us paralyzed with indecision. Hours were spent scrolling through countless titles, only to end up watching “The Office” for the 15th time. We had all the movies and TV shows in the world at our disposal, and yet we fell into the warm embrace of familiar favourites.
These streaming platforms have changed the way people consume content. The popularity of people getting spoiled by entertainment around the world served up on their TV screens has sparked a debate about whether traditional cinemas are soon to become a thing of the past. In my opinion, NO! However, it’s only about time that we see which turn the OTT and streaming boom takes.