That takes us to the first question. Over what do they
disagree? Well, most often (read always) the issue is
financial. Revenue sharing arrangements, profit percentage
splitting, minimum guarantee payments etc…, the
list goes on. To put it simply, it is the numbers that
are the problem. If the problem is just about numbers,
then why have the solutions never worked? To the best
of my knowledge, they are the same issues that keep
resurfacing again and again every time a new adjustment
or arrangement is reached, but it does not hold good
for long. What one might infer from this is that solutions
are not being found to the actual problem.
So, what is the actual problem? Let us take a look at
the last few instances in Tamil cinema when major disputes
have taken place over various issues. This is not an
attempt to project the movies of any one star or director
in poor light. These are plain facts that have been
observed over the past few years. The most recent instant
is that of Villu. In this case, theater owners were
really upset and got together and decided that minimum
guarantees would not be paid to movies in future. Before
that, it was Kuselan where theater owners turned to
distributors for compensations to the losses that they
had incurred, the distributors turned to the producers
and finally after many negotiations even Rajinikanth
had to pay up quite a sum to cover the damages. Something
very similar had happened with Baba. In between Baba
and Kuselan, Aadhi had caused issues between theater
owners and distributors over MGs and other allied matters.
Now, in Bollywood, the problem is revenue sharing- how
to split the profits?
What is common to all the instances cited above? The
issues are not the same, if it is MG in one case, it
is compensation in another while it is revenue sharing
in yet another case. The actual common factor in all
the above cases is that the movies in question are poor
quality products. In Bollywood too, the problems started
surfacing only after a string of huge flops which included
Chandni Chowk to China and Billu Barber. In fact, the
Hindi film industry is still waiting for the first hit
of 2009. It is flops that create the problems. Let’s
put it simply. Bad movies flop, fail to make money at
the box office, bring about losses and there is less
money to share. When there is less to share and more
hands to fill there will obviously be squabbles and
that is what we see happening very often between theater
owners, distributors and producers.
Let’s also offer a strong counterpoint to any
doubts against the above arguments. Have you ever heard
of similar issues cropping up in relation to any good
movie? The answer has to be a no! Movies that have quality
never give way to any kind of dispute between anyone.
If the movie has been made on a huge budget like Sivaji
or Dasavatharam (60 crores each) and carries big risks,
it does not matter if the movie in question is good.
There wasn’t a single issue in the Tamil film
industry concerning these two mammoth films. Let’s
also take the case of Bollywood which is currently going
through a stand off. Looking back at the recent past,
as close as December 2008; everything was looking hunky
dory with Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi and Ghajini doing smashing
business at the box office. It is only 4 months of continuous
flops that have brought about the current crisis.
The overall inference is quite simple for anyone to
draw. The actual problem that is behind every dispute
and disagreement is poor quality cinema. The only viable
and sensible solution is to work towards consistency
in delivering high quality products that won’t
let anyone down. Other measures like new MG rules, revenue
sharing arrangements, reduced budgets and star salaries
are never going to purge the industry of disagreements.
They will only be like symptomatic treatments that don’t
address the heart of the matter. Here’s hoping
for better films and a more harmonious film industry.
Behindwoods is not responsible for the views of columnists.