After Amitabh Bachchan, Superstar Kamal Haasan, popularly known as ‘Ulaganayagan’ to fans, made his debut in the Metaverse through his very own NFT collection on Sunday. Haasan, who has fathom-like status in Tamil cinema, is the first Indian celebrity to have his own digital avatar in a metaverse, the next big thing in tech that’s being hailed as the future of the internet.
Although this term is mostly used by tech insiders to describe a virtual reality universe, the entry of popular actors like Bachchan and Haasan could help the digital collectibles known as NFTs which is a part of a wider “metaverse” to gain mainstream status in India.
“A lot of actors who are a little forthcoming and who can probably see where the world is moving towards, they understand that this [Metaverse] will be an additional medium or a platform to stay in touch with their fans,” Abhayanand Singh, Group CEO and Co-Founder of Vistas Media Capital, a Singapore-based media investment holding company behind non-fungible token (NFT) platform Fantico, told indianexpress.com.
To begin with, Fantico will help Haasan foray into the NFT market. NFTs will include things like digital avatars, unique IPs or videos, a coin, unreleased songs, among others. NFT stands for “non-fungible” token. They are essentially digital collectibles — it could be an image, video or audio file, a tweet, or even a video game item. An NFT can be copied, similar to how a painting can be copied but only one person can own the original.
As Singh pointed out, the larger vision is to create Haasan’s presence in the metaverse, which is still in development. Fantico will launch NFTs for Haasan as the entry point in the next two months. However, in the future, Haasan will be a part of a game-based metaverse, where the actor gives fans a chance to enter his personal museum.
Singh believes NFTs are most relevant in the entertainment space as they act as a bridge between creators and viewers. “NFTs are like your membership token to a club. I believe the way things are progressing, a lot of films and music in the future will be funded through NFTs,” he said. Singh’s Fantico helps facilitate NFT creation for creators and advise them on how to auction their own collectibles for investors, fans and collectors. NFTs are secured using the blockchain-enabled technology in the same manner as cryptocurrency.
From Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to Microsoft, every big tech company is betting on the future on the metaverse. Even though current technology including smartphones is not designed to create virtual worlds and 3D spaces, in the future people will be able to experience immersive worlds through Facebook’s Meta-branded virtual reality headsets (formerly branded Oculus).
Singh says NFTs will be a part of the metaverse, creating a new economic system. “An NFT is just a sub-segment of a larger concept, which is decentralization. Metaverse is more holistic,” he explained.
Experts believe NFTs will disrupt the marketplace, and artists like Kamal Haasan, Amitabh Bachchan and Salman Khan presence in the NFT space will create another revenue stream for their intellectual property. Exclusivity is the reason why Bachchan’s NFT collections of ‘Madhushala’ recently fetched $1 million at the end of auction.
Singh doesn’t think NFTs are overvalued, though he does think that in the long run these digital objects won’t command high prices. “There is a lot of euphoria right now, and people are still finding a way to discover price,” he said. Singh compares NFTs to the art market. However, he also said that there will be some consolidation where the prices could see coming off from the peak. For now though, people will continue to pay a high price for digital art if any celebrity is associated with it.
NFTs are aspirational, and the association of celebrities make NFTs more desirable among people who are willing to pay a hefty amount to own these digital files. There is a reason why both big celebrities and smaller creators are cashing in on NFTs because there is money to be made. NFTs do have potential to become a part of the mainstream conversation, and the early craze shows how NFTs complement the entertainment space.
While many associate NFTs as another form of revenue stream for artists and celebrities, Singh points out that they solve a core problem with digital ownership. Because NFTs use Blockchain technology, every time there’s a transaction being made, a record is established in the digital ledger.
Beyond Haasan, Singh’s Fantico will be helping a host of celebrities including actors, production houses, directors, singers and musicians for their NFT ventures (He wouldn’t disclose the names) and get them jump into the metaverse bandwagon.
“It needs a lot more thinking, a lot more seriousness, a lot more participation from serious and credible players, and we also need elements of regulation into it,” Singh responds to allegations that popular actors launching their own NFT ventures is a part of some ponzi scheme. “The underlying philosophy of the success of NFT is decentralisation, giving fans a direct connection to the artists. That’s why more and more actors are opening up for something like this,” he added.