Software and Bollywood

Software bollywood digital culture -After Effects and allogrymthic culture in photography and film making. Transformation of the visual language. Is social media creating a digitally dependent culture? Digital visual culture theory and practise of using software manipulations in cinema.

Lev Manovich and Jose Van Dijck provide us with a framework on new image technology techniques. This paper will explore how new media is impacting Indian cinema by giving examples. The purpose of evaluating the arguments laid forth is to shed new light to some of their discussions and by no means to relegate their contributions. There are four dimensions to produce significant arguments based on their readings. These are, allogrymthic culture, software manipulations, memory, and the human agent (software expert). The latter half of the essay will examine the cognitive and psychological aspects limited to the plausibility of software use by Indian audiences.

software bollywood Indian cinema
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It includes an analysis of how the software “After Effects” is used in Bollywood cinema to enhance visual perceptions of the audiences.

Cinematography Digital Graphics

The production environment in Bollywood cinema is digital; where freelance graphic designers, illustrators, the small post production and animation studios are a reality. The inexpensive graphic workstations, personal computers and illustration software are all affordable in Bollywood. Image editing, animation, compositing, cinematography, still photography animations, 3D computer animations have combined in various ways and have transformed the visual culture in India. The use of software –produced special effects in Bollywood feature film has affected narrative film making. This happened because of the use of inexpensive digital video and editing tools (Manovich, 2013: 250-252). However, although the results of these transformations are visible yet it has not been critically analysed. Neither, the transformation of the visual languages used by other forms of moving images outside of narrative films has also not been critically analysed by western critiques. Therefore, it has become interesting to open up some challenging issues. The revolution from still images to moving images and the use of software in Bollywood is remarkable. A conspicuous transformation and the development of a new hybrid language is noticeable. However, this paper will not examine the ubiquity of how things looked before as it would be exhaustive for this essay.

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Nevertheless, an example is included to examine how the After Effects software has affected the aesthetics of hybridity in India (Manovich, 2013: 254). Theoretically, even though there is talk of globalization. Yet both the authors have left out Bollywood from their analysis. It seems in software studies Bollywood is fairly under considered or the use of software underrated (Manovich, 2013: 254). The purpose of this essay is to give a creditable position to Bollywood cinema in the “invisible revolution and After Effects” from the point of Indian contemporary culture and to establish how the new ‘Meta language’ has created hybridity in the modern era of Indian cinema (Manovich, 2013: 244)

The New Interface – Visual Effects

What we see in India (today) is motion graphics taking off and this has been mass produced in large numbers. The reason why films are dominated by graphical elements rather than live action is because the new interface of running software’s on PC’s      such as visual effects was popularized by films such as Dhoom3 and Krish3. Although Doom 3 was a sequence of Dhoom1 and Dhoom 2 ((YRF), 2014).

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This film has highly special “invisible effects.” The biggest visual effect of this film was the double of actor Amir Khan who had to look as real as possible. The fluidity of the camera position was fixated in the past, it used to be a static shot. However, with motion control, the camera is controlled through the computer and the camera is ‘manipulated’ to moves with precision. Previously, this would not be possible. Computer software is an integral component of filmmaking and a different logic was encountered by this film. Interactive computer graphics and animations transformed the use of Computer Generated Imaginary (CGI) to the next level. Digital replacements of Amir Khan’s face curves, from the data were applied to the digital face. The use of motion graphics, compositing and visual effects in the making of Dhoom 3 explains how human agents in Bollywood media were authorizing software (Manovich, 2013: 288). This film created a new dynamics and new visual aesthetic that did not exist previously. Consequently, it was not a mechanical shot but rather software remix techniques using animation curves and digital actors. Working methods techniques with media were utilised to create the visual effects and embedded in the film. The common features of the new aesthetics highlights “deep remixability and manipubality.”

Computing Labs

Furthermore, Tata Elexi visual computing laboratory was nominated for the best special effects in colour screen awards for Dhoom 3 (India, 2014). As, it demonstrated, a vast array of visual effect solutions for this film. In a nutshell, Tata Elexi blends technology, creativity and the engineering of software. The film was made in a software environment hence the spatial dimensions in the making of this film became as important as the temporal dimension (Manovich, 2013: 296). There was increasing integration of different skills, people coming together from very different spheres and areas. Moreover, software applications have enhanced audience perceptions.

However, the obliteration of Indian cinema from Manovich’s and Dijck’s work is that it became a more reflective analysis for this essay.

Bollywood is not only limited to Hindi cinema but also includes Tamil, Punjabi, Marathi, Gujrathy (other dialects spoken in India) as well; making it a more complex and scientific study. Bollywood also boasts of an International audience. Yet, both, the authors have no mention of its important contributions in digital networks and software studies; considering that Madame Tussauds has wax figures of famous Bollywood actors.

Fusion With Technology

Many examples are available on You Tube for Hindi and Tamil cinema. The composite fusion of using software in the music, film, documentaries in Bollywood have changed cinematic experiences. This shows the speed in which technology has captivated Indian audiences. Consequently, the boundaries between different professional fields in Bollywood have also become less important because of common applications of software such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Final Cut, After Effects, Maya, 3ds Max (Manovich, 2013: 246). For example, advertising campaigns have also re used the same designs.

The repetitive mention of the terminology by Manovich “same software” “repeating patterns” (Manovich, 2013: 303), “reappearance of exactly the same designs” (Manovich, 2013: 306) can be applied to Bollywood cinema. Although, the repetitive use of software has led to diversity as software applications are switched in the production process.

It has ushered interaction and emergence of new information in Bollywood by re narrating in new ways in different languages through the digital culture prevalent in India. India’s use of software applications is growing and Allogyrthmic culture of visualising data is apparent on You Tube. Thus, research needs to be done on how the new forms of storytelling are sustained in Bollywood. By 1993, the software industry began competing with each other for example in After Effects, Flame, Inferno or paintbox. By 2003, more companies like Apple’s Motion, Autodesk’s Combushion and Adobe Flash were available for the same price.

Hence, the market was flooded with graphic software which proved to be a good sign for Bollywood and was also easily available in India (Manovich, 2013: 246-248) .

Consequently, in Bollywood this attracted fresh new talents who entered the domain and were expert designers keen to keep up with the pace of demanding audiences using Web 2 technologies.


New software’s have combined to produce various forms of “hybridity” and “Deep remixability.” Likewise, the audiences individually uses social media. Yet, ‘digitization’ does not have the same effect. ‘Digitization’ on the other hand explores how technical changes affect individual identity formation. In India too, audiences are also using software by increasingly manipulating conventional images to suit the individual’s needs (Dijck, 2008: 57). Photography has become a norm of self-communication and as a means of interaction and peer bonding (Dijck, 2008: 62). Both digitization and “softwarization” use the Meta language platform. In the former, the individual can manipulate the image with software such as Photoshop by reposing and reframing. However, digitization does not cause artificiality (Dijck, 2008: 66). There remains a debate whether it is narratives or photographs or a combination of both that triggers most false memories for instance, Bollywood song Galliyan. (Dijck, 2008: 64). This video explain how lighting and framing techniques are used in Bollywood with an emotional narrative (Jain, 2014). An imaginary is created outside the live action shots by manipulation. In this case, CGI is used by using multiple tools and technologies of flashing images to get the desired effects. Dijck’s analysis tends to give examples of Hollywood however people’s memories and imagination are affected by Bollywood cinema too. A comment by Sandeep Ranwal on You Tube reveals the disposition that “The song makes me feel that I am in Kashmir” whereas the song was recorded in Mumbai which boasts of a hot climate whilst Kashmir has a cold climate.

This is confirmed as research shows that people can be seduced into creating false memories because the human mind is constantly producing autobiographical evidences through the pictures (Dijck, 2008: 63)

Digital image verses Moving image

Staying with this analysis that digital image and moving image are modified by software codes. It may have an incredible influence on memory and imagination (Dijck, 2008: 64). Before proceeding to examine Manovich it will be necessary to understand Jose Van Dijck. Her emphasis is on personal identity and memory as a form of communication. She explains that, the image or images get multi-layered or over layered as the individual lose control as the ability of the image is touched, retouched and reconstructed by software. (Dijck, 2008: 65).

In software studies, this raises questions of aesthetics of the digital images relating to Indian audiences and how they are interacting with software. How does this end up in the collective memory of Indian people is not understood (Dijck, 2008: 69). If software is the new interface then we need to examine how its implication are shaping the imagination.

The cognitive theory and cultural theory will differ for Indian and Western audiences and this discussion is not included in this essay. In addition, there are significant differences in the cognitive and technical mechanisms of Hollywood and Bollywood. It is similar to Hollywood cinema and Western audiences in the regard that no matter what application is used for digital image or moving image. The tools are similar as – the computer is the universal Meta Medium synthesing on one interface of the- software.

Be it still photographs, sound, music or films, all these forms can be transported thereby replicating and creating new hybrids in Bollywood. By using techniques, we can use effects in photography to moving images.

Photographic effect on text and moving images by the software allogrythm can be processed in similar ways, this is illustrated by an example. As Manovich explains that “After Effects” on motion images brings all the forms together and heightens the perception of audiences. Hybrid images can be assembled from many layers. For example the Bollywood song in Ek Villian (One Rouge) (Series, 2014) on You Tube has two videos of exactly the same length of time of 5.41 seconds. The same song sequence, the same lyrics it raises the question why audiences prefer one to another. The repetitive circulation of one of the links by individuals and the repetition of hearing the song on You Tube explains two phenomenons. Firstly, people are participating.

Secondly, on analysing it further one video had four million hits and the other video had eight million hits on You Tube and went viral. This explains that the video with the use of software “After Effects” the link on You Tube was circulated by the individuals on Facebook, google circles, twitter and spreads by hashtags rapidly as compared to the video without “After Effects”.

This shows how participation is taking place at a high level with the use of software manipulations. The visibility and ingenuity of human interaction with the machine conception shows the dependency on allogyrthmic cultures in India by way of You Tube example. It also highlights the occurrence that people appreciate aesthetics as visual designs that are improvised. In addition, the connation that designers use software and can apply all techniques giving them additional dimensions of space and time. None of this effects would have been possible.

However, in Ek Villian an amalgamation of artists, musicians, graphic designers, singers creativity and talent, gel together with ideas that software saves time. The designers can now substitute anytime one element of the music composer’s composition by inserting another or can either delete or add new ones (Manovich, 2013: 281).

The computer supports artistic Meta language for Tamil and Hindi films, songs, editing, sound, cinematography this leads us to believe that although there is only one Meta medium but in reality exist many Meta languages. Hence, Hindi cinema has a global audience (Manovich, 2013: 276).

The experts and amateurs using the software for commercial gain or for identity building have the common node of convergence of globalization and cultural behaviours.

The veracity of dialectical anthology from Bollywood indicates that it cannot be excluded from discursive debates of software studies. (Series, 2014)Interlocution of Bollywood cinema in software studies is crucial. Bollywood designers and Hollywood designers are already conversing and academics need to do the same. This essay has attempted to dissertate some issues at a global level from a socio-cultural view point.


(YRF), Y.R.F. (2014) You Tube, 7 May, [Online], Available: [18 February 2015].

Dijck, J.V. (2008) ‘Digital Photography:Communication, Identity,Memory’, Sage, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 57-76.

India, O. (2014) Filmfare 2014: Best VFX Goes To Tata Elxsi For Dhoom 3, 24 January, [Online], Available: [18 February 2015].

Jain, P. (2014) Pandolin, July, [Online], Available: [Thursday February 2015].

Manovich, L. (2013) Software Takes Command, London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Series, T. (2014) You Tube, 9 May, [Online], Available: [Saturday February 2015].

Series, T. (2014) You Tube, 13 May, [Online], Available: [Saturday February 2015].

July 10, 2016


What is code? A source code is a form of textual programming code that is edited by computer programmers. As a novice I did not understand coding which I thought was difficult and the interpretation of code as a textual artefact. I met two coders and found out that firstly it is a developmental process which is written on the computer and it outlines in detail the function and process that the computer (machine) has to follow in order to achieve a particular computational goal(human challenge). It is then compiled in such a logical way to produce a executional code that the computer can understand and run. The difficulty lies in the articulation of running a programme distinct from the textual format. There are good coders and bad coders and Urban Designers for Smart Cities strives for elegance this is nicely demonstrated by The Alliance For Code Excellence. However, there is also Source Lines of Codes  SLOC. Programmers can purchase ‘Bad code offsets’. Bad codes arise for number of reasons : lack of skill or just poorly documented so every purchase will offset the desired quantity of SLOC and pave the way towards future code of excellence.

I was under a misconception that code and software was synonymous of computer programming, but I want to make a analytical difference between code and software after meeting  two engineers at AEC Hackathon, London.  Data Scientists or Computer scientists write the text in a language, but the translation that occurs when the text in code or programme language gets compiled into the machine instruction which is not encoding because the process is not reversible. Therefore, software manufacturers can keep their product secrets in Code.

Image courtesy Namrata Dhingra

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