Friday, July 2, 2010

It's a sad, sad, sad, sad world!

By Anant Mathur (July 02, 2010)

I recently came across this bit of news, please visit this link before continuing: Priyadarshan's Prateik starrer shelved

Well, if you didn’t read the item on the above link, the gist of it is that renowned filmmaker Priyadarshan was trying to make a film with Prateik Babbar (Smita Patil and Raj Babbar's son) and some newcomers but no producer wants to back a film with newcomers so it’s been shelved.

I believe the corporate houses and media are to be blamed for this. Ever since the corporate houses came into the film industry the focus has become the stars (instead of scripts and filmmakers) and the media has been supporting them with their tails wagging. If the likes of Priyadarshan have trouble making films with newcomers you can only imagine what hope a new filmmaker has.

I'm willing to bet that if Shahrukh Khan's driver wants to make a film with Shahrukh Khan - all the corporate houses and producers will support him (regardless of how bad the script is). But a successful filmmaker like Priyadarshan with more hits than Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Ashutosh Gowarikar, Mani Ratnam, Aditya Chopra and Karan Johar combined can't get a producer to back his project with newcomers. It’s indeed a very sad day for the film industry. 

Punit Malhotra, nephew of costume designer Manish Malhotra (who is very good friends with Karan Johar) is making his directorial debut with I Hate Luv Storys and guess who’s producing the film… Karan Johar - surprise! And what experience does Punit have, you ask? None, obviously! He went to HR College of Commerce and Economics and did modeling and acting afterwards - when that failed he turned to direction. Punit has never gone to film school or done anything creative, but who cares he knows Karan Johar. We all know that a Karan Johar film, regardless of director or script, fetches a hefty price, so Karan has already made the money back prior to the release of IHLS. I’m sure if Punit wants Karan will get Shahrukh Khan to do a cameo in his film. And if the film earns 3 stars from paid reviews, Punit’s name will be added to the list of brilliant young Indian filmmakers because in India brilliance is worth 3 stars not 5. Who needs qualified filmmakers when unqualified friends and relatives are readily available! After all, Karan Johar's only qualification is that he is the son of a film producer.

When will producers and corporate houses learn? Doesn't the recent debacle with Raavan, Kites, Veer, My Name Is Khan, What's Your Raashee, Blue, Kambakkht Ishq, Chandni Chowk to China and Yuvvraaj teach them anything? Stop fooling around with stars and concentrate on good scripts. The audience won't be flocking to the theatres much longer not when they can watch the same shit you dish out for free on TV, not to mention other activities such as IPL which can keep them busy and away from the multiplexes. Remember, you need the audience they don't need you! The audience can watch your film on TV a few months after it releases and for free, so why should they support you in the multiplexes?
The reason bollywood only has 5-6 hits (if that many) each year is because there are only 10 actors in the whole country of over 1 billion people that producers rely on. The film industry needs new blood and not just talentless star kids. Look at Hollywood, even a no name guy is signed to a 100 million dollar film and the film does a business of 5 to 6 times that amount (how many people knew Leonardo DiCaprio before Titanic?). In India, if a film is made for 50 crores and it earns 55 crores the producers are happy, why? If your budget is 50 crores the film should make 250 crores at least, otherwise stop making such expensive films. Only 3 Idiots and Ghajini have ever crossed more than 100 crores at the box office in india. There's no scope for films with 50 or 100 crore budgets. If films can't gross more than 50-60 crores your budgets should be 10-15 crores and not more than what the film can recover. It’s not the films that fail it’s the cost that is killing them. If My Name is Khan was sold for 25 crores it would’ve made over 60 crores in profit and would’ve been a massive hit. Even though Karan Johar made lots of money by selling it for 100 crores, the film will forever be considered a box office disappointment.

The filmmakers also need to stop throwing eye-candy into the face of the audience, no one cares about special effects or 3D unless it is combined with a good script. If having special effects or shooting in 3D enhance the script then by all means do it. But don't just do it because you think the audience will come and watch your films and it won’t matter what the story is. This approach might work a couple of times, but the audience will be wise to these tricks and not come to any future releases.

Ghajini, A Wednesday, Raajneeti and 3 Idiots are proof that if you make a good film the audience will run to a multiplex. It’s not piracy that’s killing the film industry, it’s the big budgets and shoddy scripts. Piracy is only in the equation because no one wants to waste 200-300 of their hard earned rupees on films which are no better than the sorry saas-bahu serials they can see on TV for free.

Obviously there’s a huge demand for filmed entertainment in India, but the way to an audience’s heart is not through the stars its through good films regardless of the star cast or filmmakers. Several years ago a film called Dulhan Wahi Jo Piya Man Bhaaye with Prem Krishen and Rameshwari hit the screens and although it didn't turn it's lead pair into superstars, the film was a runaway hit and is still remembered to this day.

No actor is bigger than the film itself. Great films can turn ordinary actors into superstars, but even a superstar can't change the fate of a bad film. If successful films are to be made producers and corporate houses need to concentrate on the script more and the superstar quotient less.

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

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