Have Bollywood NFTs lost their glamour during the cryptocrash?

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Have Bollywood NFTs lost their glamour during the cryptocrash?
Beyondlifeclub
  • NFT transaction activity has declined from $3.9 billion in February 2022 to less than $1 billion in March 2022.
  • Amitabh Bacchan’s BeyondLife.Club, Salman Khan’s Chill Bull NFTs and Vishal Malhotra’s NFT funded film Ilm made headlines in 2022.
  • Blue Chip celebrity NFTs are more viable for investment than star NFTs which provide a one-time use case.
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We have come a long way from when Bollywood actors seemed like the real stars, inaccessible and in a galaxy that was out of reach of the laity. Thanks to social media and digital technologies, we now may have a ‘problem of plenty’.

With NFTs, blockchain-based digital collectibles, fans now have access to digital avatars of Bollywood celebrities and can even attend their film premieres.

Last year, many Indian celebrities launched their NFTs or Non-Fungible-Tokens, a unique way of selling their art online. It could be a poem, a song, a movie dialogue or even a movie premiere.

However, NFTs have seen a steep drop in interest since last year. NFT transaction activity crashed by three-quarters to less than $1 billion in March from $3.9 billion in February. How have Bollywood NFTs fared after this crash?

Fiat vs crypto

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NFTs can be bought either with fiat money – regular money such as INR – or with cryptocurrency. NFTs that were bought using fiat money have been less affected by the market crash. For instance, Guardian Link, a platform which manages Amitabh Bachchan’s NFT platform BeyondLife.Club was one of the first to offer NFTs in fiat money. Amitabh NFTs were sold for $1 million in 2021.

“Over 12,000 NFTs were sold within 45 seconds of going live. Guardian Link also provides credibility checks for these celebrity NFTs so that they can neither be replicated nor sold anywhere else,” said Arjun Reddy, chief technology officer at Guardian Link.

For NFTs that were bought via digital currencies, the story gets a little complicated.

Utility & engagement drive NFT value

How well NFTs have fared is dependent on multiple factors – utility of NFTs, star power, star engagement and credibility of the platform. If the NFTs do not provide lasting use cases for customers, they are unlikely to be popular.

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‘83’ – a film that starred Ranveer Singh – in January sold all its digital collectibles within an hour of launch on ‘Social Swag,’ a platform for customers to learn directly from celebrities and not an NFT platform.

Actor Salman Khan released ‘Chill Bull NFT collection’ in July – based on his 2019 movie ‘Dabbang 3’ – through Bollycoin, the star’s NFT platform. However the utilities of these NFTs remain nil with no reference to them on the official website. Business Insider had not heard back from Bollycoin at the time of publishing.

“Art should always be backed by lasting utility. Often celebrities launch their NFTs and go radio silent. But if an NFT buyer wants to sell the NFT of a Bollywood digital avatar, would they be able to do so? They should have an active NFT community,” said Sandesh Suvarna, vice president, WazirX NFT marketplace.

Vishal Malhotra, creator of Asia’s first NFT-funded film ‘Ilm,’ meaning knowledge; and also the first actor to launch his NFT in India, did just that.

“Ilm-the world’s first NFT-funded film has been certified by the Censor Board of India. Even during the bear market, over 50% of the film NFT passes have been sold. The bear market allows NFTs to go mainstream, bringing down their price. A Sholay film NFT has classic value for a Bollywood fan and will always have incremental resale value,” Malhotra said.

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Fans who own the ‘Ilm’ NFT passes will have a lifetime access for all his future film premieres, Malhotra added.

Of blue chips & star power

The ‘Blue Chip NFTs’ – those NFTs that have the backing of big names, venture capitalists and big organizations – would still make for good buys is the general consensus.

Rario, a blue chip NFT platform has over 20,000 users worldwide. They have partnered with cricketers like Rishabh Pant, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Dinesh Karthik, and are backed by top global cricket leagues.

“Esports is growing rapidly. Cricket fans want to be associated with their favourite players. At Rario, you can gain access to their tournaments, merchandise and even host your own virtual tournaments. We have partnered with world’s cricket mega celebrities,” said Ankit Wadhwa, CEO of Rario.

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The star power of a mega celebrity like Amitabh Bachchan, coupled with the backing of a well-known decentralised exchange like Guardian Link seems to be the winning combination for owning a lucrative NFT.

Amitabh Bachchan’s NFT ‘ BigB Punks #1633’ that sold at $10 a piece last November, is currently priced at $1500/piece.

Celebrity engagement

One of the most important factors that determine the value and demand of celebrity NFTs is the extent of engagement by the celebrity.

Dhruv Saxena, chief strategy officer of Singapore-based NFT celebrity platform Fantico, deals with NFTs of Indian movie stars such as Kamal Hassan, Madhavan, and lyricist Javed Akhtar. He believes investor overlap between crypto and NFTs does exist, hence buyers are more cautious.

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“This is very typical after any ‘bull run’ days. Value can only be created by creators or their fans. While fans will continue to like whatever it is they do, creators (artists, influencers, actors, musicians, or athletes) will use this new medium to create more supply,” added Saxena.
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