Spoilt on hype: Kollywood following IPL

The entire Indian media fraternity is in full throttle reporting, debating, speculating and forecasting about India’s greatest passion – cricket. That the average Indian cricket fan’s mind has more than just a few embers in it at the moment is an easy guess. And, the media is going all out to fan the fire which at the moment appears to be a pretty easy job. But, this is not about how the media utilizes opportunities to castigate or almost canonize celebrities according to the fluctuating fortunes of their profession.

This is about the hollow hype that seems to be engulfing us from all sides. Well, the Indian cricket team is not just a bundle of hype. It is not for nothing that it sits at the top of the test rankings and at the second spot in ODI rankings. But, still one does get the feeling that the balance between hype and stuff is being upset. There is nothing wrong with hype, but it must come in the company of ample substance. Hype without substance is like icing without the cake.

This might be starting to sound a bit like an enraged rant of a cricket fanatic who just can’t digest the fact that his favorite team finished second best on almost all occasions at the World Cup. But, this is not a fan’s heartburn. I wouldn’t have cared much even if the Indian team had been in the semifinals (but that would have robbed me off the license to go all out like this), but I find it hard to understand why cricket(ers) are so damn important and overemphasized in this country. Why is there so much attention attached to the IPL and what happens in the parties at nights and how it later made the players groggy.

And, I find it even more difficult to believe the astronomical amounts that these players were being paid during the 45 day extravaganza, ads and sponsorships excluded. The millions that were splurged at the auctions might have made many of you squirm. All that would have been fine if the end product had justified the big bandwagon that the IPL was. In the end, all we got was a tired, defeated group that looked like it lacked direction and was desperately searching for excuses.

Yes, hype overrode substance. But, isn’t that familiar in almost all walks of our life, especially cinema. The other day, I was going through an article that gave details about the remuneration received by most of the big stars of our industry. Even considering the fact that most magazines are at many times inclined to exaggerate in order to excite, I found those figures disturbing and disproportionate. Is a star’s salary meant to gobble up a substantial amount of a film’s budget? I am not a communist, nor do I have any grouse against stars earning absolutely huge amounts. But, if that money could have gone into the film making process to create a better end product wouldn’t the audience be much happier. To sum up, too much money and effort are being invested in the wrong directions; star salaries, huge sets; punch lines; build up; superhuman fights and the sort which have very little bearing on the quality of the end product.

We have handsomely paid stars and money to splurge on all the peripheral aspects of cinema. But, if all that ends up creating just a group of self-aggrandizing horn blowers who cut absolutely sorry figures with their products, almost to the point of being mock-worthy and ‘caricaturizable’- is the money well spent? Out of all the 130 films that hit theaters last year, there were not even 10 decent earners. How many of them were star driven movies? I guess you have the answer.

Just like the millions in the IPL could have been better distributed (Lalit Modi has just given a 15000 ‘Mahabharatha’ on how it was done), the huge amount of money that cinema generates can and should be better utilized so that we can hold our products aloft with pride rather than stow them away, lest someone finds out and has a hearty laugh at our expense. Please, let’s cut the hype and focus on things that matter.

(By Sudhakar, with inputs from Arun.)

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