Tag Archives: Bollywood

Why no filmmaker is compelled to do anything

Over the years, there’s been a rising misconception that a fictional film based on certain historical elements or consisting of historical characters (or just people who actually lived) is bound to or by law has to project all the elements as though it were a reflection of a History text book.

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NO filmmaker HAS TO do anything, first let’s get that clear. Just like NO potential audience member HAS TO watch any film. 

It’s really that simple.

To explain this for the dummies, who think every filmmaker making a historical film has a responsibility to massage their egos, let me give you the example of Inglorious Basterds. This is a film by Quentin Tarantino, arguably one of the best filmmakers working today. The film won an Academy Award (and was nominated for another 7) and hey, the Academy and Quentin himself know so much more about cinema and film history than most or all of you. So why is this film relevant with regards to the pointless noise around SLB’s Padmavati?

In this film, QT distorted famously known historical “facts” (that even 8 year olds know) to fit into a story HE wove around characters who had lived. ADOLF HITLER WAS KILLED IN A MOVIE THEATRE, IN THIS FILM.The film is largely regarded as one of Tarantino’s Best Films. No body got offended by this distortion. Because it is FICTION. It is not a documentary. This is the first point I’m trying to get across.

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Secondly, where are all the comments about Padmavati coming from? How many of those people have even watched the film? Not a single person, making noise for fifteen minutes of fame, having seen nothing but the trailer (which also, I highly doubt they’ve seen). So on basis of PRESUMPTION, they’re already DECIDING that they WILL be offended by the film. Before watching a second of the film. This happened with a lot of films out here. It happened with Prakash Jha’s Aarakshan as well. If I’m not wrong, it happened with a few words in the lyrics of Dibakar Banerjee’s Shanghai as well and has happened famously with a LOT of films. Many people have USED films to get the fame and limelight they have always been craving.

Thirdly, and this part is overtly disturbing, people are justifying a violent attack on Mr Bhansali which came months before the film, for something that MIGHT be in the film. There are two problems here. One, you are justifying violence for your own misunderstanding surrounding a director working on a film with historical elements and two, you don’t even know what is in the film. So according to these folks, a violent act on an innocent artist is justified because the film he is currently shooting MIGHT have something in it that MIGHT offend SOMEONE.

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Fourthly, we have such a rich history. How many filmmakers on a commercial level are even making anything even minutely historical? The ones who are projecting the absolute beauty of those Worlds, always find themselves, in some sort of a problem that inadvertently builds up to a controversy. This discourages filmmakers from making historical films and then people say “Why aren’t they making films on our rich culture / heritage?” It’s because every time someone even comes close to making something about a historical character, SOMEONE decides to stand up and use that to gain some fame. SOMEONE or the other calls for a ban, calls for cuts, and so on.

Take a moment to think about this. All the people who are making this noise at the moment, how many opportunities would they get to get their names on all these platforms? To be seen on TV? To be written and spoken about? To be debated about on news shows? Very few or none. Some of them will use these opportunities to provide a proof of their existence. This is it. They are done now. They got what they wanted. At the expense of a great filmmaker, a large crew, who I’m sure have worked extremely extremely hard to create something that looks this spectacular.

There are no rules for a fiction film. No rules anywhere. That is why it is called fiction. Cinema, literature and the like, allow us to take characters who have lived, put them in different, interesting situations and create something. No filmmaker will ever do something to purposefully offend anyone. An artist will only create something because s/he wants to. It’s that simple.

If we make a list of things everyone in India is offended by, no one will be able to make a single film or even a painting or write a novel. 

Art and literature would cease to exist. 

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What next ? The Big Question facing Indian Cinema’s next 100 !

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Raja Harishchandra (1913)

Indian Cinema completes 100 years on May 3rd 2013 from the release of its first ever full length feature film, Raja Harishchandra by Dadasaheb Phalke (1913)

A great article on the 100 years of Indian Cinema –

http://www.newsonair.nic.in/100-YEARS-OF-INDIAN-CINEMA.asp

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Gangs of Wasseypur (2012)

This post isn’t about 100 years of Indian cinema. It is about what i think are the issues that are causing blockages on our road to keep creating good and better cinema.

100 years of Indian Cinema is a proud moment for every Indian undoubtedly but away from the pride and celebrations , Indian cinema, interestingly, finds itself in a transition phase in the point of view of many renowned film personalties and critics. To mark this, 2012 in itself was considered as a year of importance for Bollywood as it saw many releases that certified the presence of strong independent voices coming from some of India’s quality film makers. Sujoy Ghosh’s

Kahaani 2012

Kahaani 2012

Kahaani created a sensation and was declared a smash hit, not getting too much into the details of every independent film but this was the case with most of these films namely Anurag Kashyap‘s Gangs of Wasseypur, Anurag Basu‘s Barfi! , Gauri Shinde‘s English Vinglish , Shoojit Sircar‘s Vicky Donor and Dibakar Banerjee‘s Shanghai. Vicky Donor for example addressed sperm donation which many didn’t see coming by the look of things in Bollywood. Over seas, audiences are in plenty, looking for good Indian cinema but we have to change somethings about ourselves. Bollywood has a number of issues at present which are as good as hindrances in its quickly needed progress. It seems as though Bollywood has become addicted to ‘remakes’, ‘sequels’ , ‘item numbers’ and somethings as unexplainably senseless as ‘opening week collections, opening day collections and 100 CRORE CLUB’. Many of these films, that crossed the so called ‘100 crore’ mark have a very low ability to ‘thrive’ after they are out of the theatres. There are great films in the ‘100 crore’ category too, obviously, but a majority of them become a text book example of monotony. A major section of the ‘100 Crore Club’ entity thrives solely in dependence of the Star system in India. Anurag Kashyap once said, “Star system is there everywhere but in India it is not just star system, it is a star driver system. The same people get awards. In Hollywood also there is a star system. There is a star called Tom Cruise. But Tom Cruise hasn’t really got any awards.”

During a front row conversation with the Directors of Bombay Talkies (Anupama Chopra’s reputed show on Star World India)  Dibakar Banerjee recently pointed out that the technicians in the film industry are most ignored and paid less despite film being known as a technical medium.

Zoya Akhtar

Zoya Akhtar

Zoya Akhtar in the same panel interview said ” Today they are making sequels of movies that shouldn’t have been made in the first place” Karan Johar highlighted the ‘herd mentality’ in the film industry. It is believed that many young film makers, having low budget but great scripts in store for the audience arent getting the required amount of space in the Industry. Dibakar Banerjee also said “Too many films are chasing too few weekends” Coming away from these issues, putting them behind us is the only way the Indian cinema can move forward.

Signs of hope aren’t the new , different types of cinema that are being released. The signs of hope can be taken from the fact that certain audiences are slowly beginning to search for something different. It is a slow process but proof of its existence is beginning to gain visibility. Hence the success of recent films like Zindagi Na Milegi DobaraKahaani , Gangs of Wasseypur, Talaash, Barfi! ,

Vicky Donor 2012

Vicky Donor 2012

Vicky Donor, English Vinglish as well as anticipation for the next few movies of the Directors of these films. Selected film makers have began to ‘not bother’ about issues of box office results over recovery and have gradually started making films out of passion and solely to tell good stories.

Cinema for the intelligent audiences is emerging. The ‘want’ to watch Indian movies overseas has increased by a large margin. Indian films are being talked about and rumor has it that Film industries are also looking to remake some of them. Indian cinema, known to take large scale influence from foreign films, has begun to inspire film makers from foreign countries too.

What Next and what should be avoided ?

Rajkumar Hirani

The Next 100 years of Indian Cinema can be considered as a new beginning for all kinds of cinema. Cinema for everybody. Cinema that is fearless, real, bold and original. It may be wrongly interpreted that commercial cinema is bad or anything of the sort. Away from the genres of most of the commercial films and the topics they address, commercial cinema is actually something good. The money made by commercial films is also a positive factor for Indian Cinema. Glorifying and highlighting films that made 100 Crores and which film got the ‘biggest opening’ is a different matter all together. That has to do with the attitude of beginning to evaluate everything in terms of money as Rajkumar Hirani had once said about the ‘100 crore club’.

In the coming years, our audiences should be ready to face a new beginning. They should be ready for a surprise element in the film industry rather than expecting the same type of films , very often , the same genres, the same stars, doing the same thing. More film makers should begin to not consider only commercial aspects of film making and start becoming strong voices and tell good stories. The Certification Board should give our makers a chance to tell us the ‘many stories’ that they haven’t had the freedom to even start writing with the fear of the obviously expected objection from the Board for its release. Small issues like character names shouldn’t be associated with people from the country only to cause headlines. Film makers often fear using surnames for the same reason! The fever of attempting to ban films just because of the topics they address should be disposed in the dump yard because we have to face it, the people who voice concerns over films and start riots to cause their ban, have, in most cases, not watched the movie !! Censoring films that are already Adult Rated (Foreign Films mostly) never made sense. It should become inexistent. An increase in Plagiarism discouragement has to take place five fold and originality should be a sort of a public demand by the audience ! Hilariously enough, movies that are sent for the Oscars by India should be judged much better. Films that contain scenes lifted from this and that movie will probably be laughed off by the Oscar Jury. Repeating , the addiction to ‘remakes’, ‘sequels’ , ‘item numbers’ and ‘Opening week collections…100 crore club’ , should be over come. None of them even minutely certify good cinema. Song lyrics from many recent films have seemingly degraded drastically, almost detaching us completely from the beautifully soothing melodious lyrics of our own, old films making clearly no sense in many many cases. When we speak of lyrics, some films have been attacked because of their ‘controversial lyrics’. People stand up challenging directors to remove the song or to change the lyrics. Attracting News Channels and Public attention is again, speaking about the attitude of these certain people. Nothing can be done about that. But, in the past, the songs that have been attacked for their ‘controversial lyrics’, were usually for one or two words towards which audiences are often ignorant and simply unaware. If India tackles these issues, our films and our film makers have an even greater chance to stand tall in Global Cinema.

The largest film industry on the Planet 

We have a HUGE film industry with the greatest diversity and variety in terms of language, culture, understanding and sensibility amongst the makers as well as the audience members. In Indian Cinema, the audiences live the movies. India makes films in more than SIXTEEN different languages, which for instance in the year 2011, amounted to an aggregate of 1,255 movies in the whole year! For those who thought that Bollywood made far more films than any other Indian film industry, in the same year, Hindi film industry made 206 films and Telugu made 192 films. Tamil made 185. That answers many questions.

Its extremely exciting to think about whats coming next in the new era of Indian Cinema! Thrilling indeed. We are proud to be the largest film industry in the World.