NEW DIRECTORS AND 150 CRORES!
In the span of six months, over
Rs. 150 crores have been risked
at the Bollywood box office
on just two movies. Great news!
Indian cinema is getting bigger
and costlier, but is it getting
better? Can the budget boom
ensure us that Indian cinema
is taking a giant step forward?
Yes, in a way. Now, we can be
sure that we have the money
to make what we want. But, do
we have the right people to
deliver with this kind of huge
money? Three Oscars (even if
they were sound and music) proved
that we have the world class
men who can deliver the goods.
Now, is the huge money being
used on the right men to deliver
the right products? Well, down
south, it does seem true with
the experienced and proven men
being given the resources to
work with. Shankar was given
Rs. 60 crores to translate the
spectacular Sivaji onto screen;
KSR was provided something similar
to create Dasavatharam. Don’t
forget that these movies had
arguably the most iconic figures
in Indian cinema at the moment.
Now, Shankar has again been
entrusted with Rs. 100 crores
to pull off another stunner
with the Superstar - Endhiran.
Marmayogi, with its Rs. 120
crore budget, just about failed
to take off, but it did have
the right men behind it. Even
traditional budget conservationist
has broken past the Rs. 20-crore
barrier with Pazhassi Raja,
which was scripted by the senior
most statesman of Malayalam
literature, M.T. Vasudevan Nair.
So, what’s the issue?
The problem is that up north
seem to be a few serious misallocations
of available resources in 2009. What could
or should be considered as the basic eligibility
for being trusted with a budget that touches
the Rs. 50 crore mark? A proven track record,
a hit maker tag, years of experience or
all of these put together. The least one
can expect is prior experience in independently
directing a film. But, apparently, such
criteria don’t seem to hold much water
for some of Hindi cinema’s top producers.
Equal opportunity for all and an open arm
for newcomers are understandable but it
is difficult to fathom the fact that new
directors are being given lavish budgets
that even the most prolific directors strive
hard to generate.
Released a few months back, Kambhakth Ishq
was a more than Rs. 50-crore magnum. The
first Indian film shot within Universal
Studios, special appearances from many Hollywood
stars including ‘Rocky’ Sylvester
Stallone, songs which were shot at costs
that could have funded a few small regional
films and a marquee cast. The most important
part of the movie, however, remained unchecked,
which was the story. Inspired by Pammal
K Sambhandam, the makers decided to more
than just spruce it and scale it up for
better results. Would anyone ever have imagined
that Pammal K Sambhandham could be made
at a Rs. 50 crore budget? Is there anything
in the plot that even remotely demands such
spending power? And will such a task ever
be given to a newbie Sabbir Khan? Were there
no experienced hands around?
Something similar transpired a few months
later when Blue entered the box office.
For all its technical expertise, it remains
a film that lacks a soul, the script. Touted
as the most expensive Indian film ever,
one wonders whether a part of the roundabout
Rs. 100 crore budget had been set apart
for a good script. Again, the extravagant
and unheard amount was placed in the hands
of a new director, Anthony D’Souza.
These new directors might be hugely talented,
capable of great things and might have worked
in the film industry for years. But all
that put together cannot make up for the
experience of having captained a movie individually.
They may not have actually floundered in
their attempts at the box office. A large
part of that credit must go to the producers
and distributors for some whirlwind publicity
and flooding the market with prints to garner
But, how much ever credit they take for
smart moves in publicity design and release
strategy, they got their basics in the wrong
place. Record-breaking budgets in the hands
of men who are just finding their feet is
like skating on thin ice. Make the amends!
Spend the right amounts on the new guys
and the big amounts on the right guys. Bigger
budgets don’t make better cinema,
better cinema paves way for bigger budgets.
No chicken or egg here!