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An open letter to the commercial film directors

“Nowadays good taste at the movies is only in the popcorn”,  read a newspaper cut out someone once shared with me. Though it slipped out of my mind then, a series of films I watched recently made me realize that this small quote has a great deal of depth to it. The quote precisely states the time period to which it belongs - “Nowadays”. What’s happening nowadays? We are being stormed by a category of filmmaking which rides on the wave of the hero or heroine’s fan following, or the success of the film’s music score, or for that matter the film’s genre.

There seems to be a ‘profitable movie’ checklist which is being ticked off by today’s filmmakers. Do you have  1.A high rated star ready to play the lead. 2. The most trending actress to play his love interest. 3. A sidekick comedian for the leads. 4. A loud villain no one will get to see in real life. 5. A supporting actress competing for the spot of the hero’s love interest? 6. Chartbusting songs. Beautiful! You have with you what in common lingo is called a commercial movie! What is that? You have a ghost in the movie too? Even better! But sadly you would have locked yourself inside a predictable plot template. And it is actually the plot which is going to make or break the movie, not the on-screen elements.

In any movie, the story has to be the hero. The moment the writer, in our case the director, confuses himself about this fact, the movie is sure to go down the drain. Isn’t it binding on the filmmaker that his main motive should be the act of telling a convincing story? Isn’t it mandatory for a good director for whom the audiences have a certain degree of expectation to churn out something distinctive? It remains a mystery as to why certain directors at certain times do not find the fact that they are supposed to add unimaginable amount of depth to the script and story imperative on them . Even after being offered  high budget , star cast, talented crew and great expectations among the audience, such ignorance being committed by the filmmaker is inexcusable.

Boyhood is a  coming of age film written by director Richard Linklater released in Jan 2014. The interesting fact about this movie is that it took a whopping 12 year period for the director to complete the scripting process only because he wanted to perfectly portray adolescence. The amount of scriptwork that went into James Cameron’s Avatar is unimaginable. Was it all worth it? Totally! The years of hard work that have gone into the scripting has given such movies a shelf life. What is important to be noted here is the thought process that drives such filmmakers to make movies such as Avatar, to narrate a tale that will be remembered and reminisced, engagingly. The amount of attention given to details in the scripting level is something many commercial film directors need to make note of.

Let this serve as an open letter to any director who wishes to wantedly or accidentally, out of choice or out of no choice , optionally, eventually or gradually slip into the process of making commercial films which have proved to grind the same stone. Don’t even think for a moment that by having few comedy tracks, high volume dialogues, cliche romance sequence, and songs with never heard of before words as lyrics, you can get away with saying the same story told years ago. While the average moviegoer will enjoy such films, he will engage,emote and evolve with a story that has depth in it. As a creator, shouldn’t it be your motive to make sure our cinema evolves?

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