Why Are These Kerala Production Studios Webcasting Funerals Live?

Indian families are webcasting the last rites of their loved ones  for distant family members to see. 

Updated05 Aug 2015, 05:30 PM IST
India
2 min read

Is grief becoming digital too? Indian production houses are making it possible for family members to witness the last rites of their loved ones without being present physically, by streaming funerals live.

The funeral webcasts, of over two hours’ duration, are replete with background scores of mournful songs and close-ups of the departed family member, giving digitally connected relatives a close last look. Repeat telecasts and on-demand videos can also be provided at the request of the client. And in areas where there is less connectivity, private outdoor broadcast (OBvan) service vans are also used.

Sooraj VS has been running Live Mobicast, a Kerala based production studio handling live streaming of family functions, including funerals, for the last five years. A sample of the funeral webcasts – over five from the month of July itself – can be seen in their websites’ gallery.

The Cost Involved

Amit Goel, who runs LiveStreamPro in Delhi, says his firm charges Rs 25,000 for the streaming of a funeral, with an additional Rs 8,000 for a standard definition camera. The cost increases to Rs 12,000, in case you want an HD camera. The recording time for a video of the funeral is usually 3-4 hours long.

The demand in New Delhi for funeral webcasting, says Amit, is not much. Last year, he only had 4-5 clients requesting for a funeral webcast in the city.

Goel says his firm can quickly move from a location (the house usually) to the cremation ground. A family’s decision to webcast a funeral is usually taken within two-three hours, says Goel. For instance, the last funeral webcasting he recorded was for a Christian Malayalee family who’d lost their young son on Holi. The call for a request came in at 7 am, and the live webcast started by 10 am.

A Trend in Kerala

Besides Live Mobicast, there’s VsquareTV – another live webcasting service from Kerala that telecasts funerals. The others in the business from the state are We Do Live, Jewel Labs, Thalsamaya, and Streamingonlive.

From the number of firms dabbling in it, it seems evident that funeral webcasting is turning into quite a fad in Kerala, a state which has a large expatriate population working in the Gulf region, USA and UK.

But with the advent of live streaming free services like Periscope and Insta Lively, applications that work on 3G and let you live stream videos from anywhere, how comprehensive is the business model of funeral webcasting?

Amit Goel concedes that though such apps are free, and allow you live streaming, professional webcasting services like his are more adept at handling large crowds, and have the professional experience to handle a situation if anything goes wrong, or the internet connectivity dips.

Opinions on funeral webcasting are divided – while some say it is a morbid trend and is the nadir of family relations, others say it is a means for families to unite in times of tragedy. They are asking that if celebrations can be recorded, why not grief?

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Published: 31 Jul 2015, 12:56 PM IST
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