Bollywood desperately seeking formula No. 1
Mainstream Hindi film audiences have become a fickle-minded lot, and for industry folks - notorious for following trends blindly - the way to their heart and pockets has become a wearisome maze.
By Priyanka Khanna, IANS
This past year, Bollywood filmmakers have tried their hands at an array of themes - including skin flicks, reality-inspired films, romantic capers and India-Pakistan feel good movies - but with mixed luck.
Just when it was claimed "sex sells", audiences give the thumbs down to Mallika Sherawat, Bipasha Basu and the lot. And when it seems "stars are out, offbeat is in" after disasters like "Lakshya," "Deewar: Lets Bring Home Our Heroes" and "Kyun... Ho Gaya Na", cine goers made the run-of-the-mill "Main Hoon Na" and a clever concoction like "Veer-Zaara" hits.
When the idea gained ground that emotions are in and action is out, "Dhoom" took everybody by surprise with its appeal. And when Yash Chopra Productions' "Hum Tum" showed that proper marketing is the key to box-office bonanza, a series of Ram Gopal Varma's well-packaged movies sank without a trace.
Though Bollywood came up with some rather unusual themes including lesbianism, India-Pakistan friendship, the plight of HIV positive people, tales of encounter specialists and saffronisation of the police force, the search continues for the best formula to crack the box-office gloom.
"It is unfortunate that a lot of small budget offbeat films have turned out to be unwatchable. There is still a crisis of content, which, in this current self-congratulatory phase, the industry is not addressing," quips trade observer Deepa Gehlot.
While the failure of new wave cinema has led big-money corporate houses to look at huge projects with stars, a few like The Factory, Pritish Nandy Communications, iDream Productions, Crossover Films and Metalight Productions Private Limited are struggling to fund smaller films. The script workshops set up by Subhash Ghai and UTV respectively are yet to impress and nothing substantial has emerged from iDream's much-publicised script bank.
The herd mentality is still very much in place. Over the last few months, there were a half a dozen sex-oriented films, then half a dozen cop movies, followed by an equal number of war films. Plagiarizing from Hollywood continues unabated, and what is making the followers of trends even more baffled is that romances or family dramas are doing just as well as smartly executed action and films high on sensual appeal.
Last heard, nearly half a dozen Bollywood filmmakers are directing films based on Francis Ford Coppola's classic gangster film "The Godfather" and after "Veer-Zaara," rural India will find cinematic representation in Ashutosh Gowariker's "Swades". The success of "Swades" may well usher in another spate of such films like his previous internationally acclaimed venture "Lagaan" had inspired "Mumbai Se Aya Mera Dost".
Trade observer Tarun Adarsh says among the films to look out for in the week ahead is "Khamosh Pani" by director Sabiha Sumar and starring Kiron Kher and Aamir Malik which is expected to release on December 3.
Up next will be "Musafir" by producers White Feather Films and director Sanjay Gupta starring Sanjay Dutt, Anil Kapoor, Aditya Pancholi, Mahesh Manjrekar and Sameera Reddy.
"Rok Sako To Rok Lo" by producer Planman Life and management guru Arindam Chaudhuri will release alongside with newcomers like Yash Pandit, Manjari Fadnis and appearances by Sunny Deol and Namrata Shirodkar.
And, the much-hyped "Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Sathiyo" by producer-director Anil Sharma and starring Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Bobby Deol, Naghma, Kapil Sharma, Divya Khosla and Sandali Sinha is expected in second week of December.
Adarsh says that apart from "Swades", horror-flick "Ho Sakta Hai," intense dramas like Rituparno Ghosh's "Raincoat" and "Rog", fun films like "Dil Maange More", "Padmashree Laloo Prasad Yadav", "Shaadi Karke Phas Gaya Yaar" and animated films like "The Incredibles" and "Aabra Ka Daabra" would set the trends that most of Bollywood will follow in the year ahead.