Head or Heart? Bollywood in a dilemma
A management guru's foray into the messy, unorganised world of Hindi cinema was trumpeted as the end of the industry's woes.
By Priyanka Khanna, IANS
But his first production has left observers wondering if we will now witness a spate of films that look good on paper but hardly make any attempt at finding the way to the heart.
Management school dean Arindam Chaudhuri's much hyped "Rok Sako To Rok Lo", which released alongside yet another well-packaged, marketed and publicised "Musafir", has trade observers lamenting the scarce regard given to the content in popular Hindi cinema.
They have also been beseeching filmmakers to make films from the head but not forget the heart of the matter.
Put together after an exhaustive review of audience preferences and market demands and a nationwide talent hunt, "Rok Sako..." has been dubbed by critics as a poor cousin of the 1990s Bollywood hit "Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander".
Both the new releases are perfect examples of Bollywood filmmakers concentrating on packaging but forgetting their job of entertaining audiences, trade observers say.
"Bollywood has been so busy packaging good proposals in film format that it has forgotten entertainment," said one.
The makers of "Rok Sako..." had done their homework well because a teen movie is just the stuff that gets the box-office fired up.
But to imagine that they could rip-off an old Aamir Khan film and make it work with a new face like Yash Pandit is pushing it a little too far.
A few good songs and muscle man Sunny Deol on a Harley Davidson is all that the movie offers in the name of innovation, making one wonder whatever happened to all that out-of-the-box thinking the professor preaches in classrooms.
Perhaps, Arindam's research established that Hindi film audiences need more of the same but even then nothing can pardon the film's forced humour and na´ve dialogues.
The film is a disappointment, although the box office will have the last word. It will be interesting to gauge whether we really deserve the poorly scripted films we get.
"Musafir" is a great-looking product. Sex, guns, battered wives, macho desperados - the film has all that it takes to attract mass audiences and also keep the discerning multiplex crowds interested.
But the coming together of Anil Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt, Aditya Pancholi, Mahesh Manjrekar, Sameera Reddy and Koena Mitra and their collective decision of letting it all hang out has ruffled many a feather in the industry.
Sanjay Gupta's leery, sordid and sadistic saga comes to the marquees even as audiences are yet to awake from the nostalgia of the bygone era courtesy "Mughal-e-Azam" and "Veer-Zaara."
For someone familiar with Hollywood, the film is no more than a well-packaged amalgam that dazzles the senses with clever gimmicks but leaves one neither shaken nor stirred.
Sanjay Dutt's involvement in conceptualising the looks of all the characters is welcome, but one cannot help missing the emotional core of "Vastava" or even "Munnabhai MBBS".
The fifties and may be early sixties had it right. Mehboob Khan, Raj Kapoor, Guru Dutt, Bimal Roy, Nitin Bose, Amiya Chakraborty, Vijay Anand, Raj Khosla - all made commercial films with songs, dances and big stars.
But nobody could call their movies mindless entertainment, says critic Deepa Gehlot.
"Their story lines were strong, their songs were meaningful and their picturisations unique. You could identify the director from the shot taking and the song picturisation," she said.
"Even if there was no obvious 'message' in their films, like in those of V. Shantaram, the audience took something home from the theatre and it often stayed with them for years. This is what nostalgia is made of."