Is there a hit-making formula in Bollywood?

A S Mitra, Glamsham Editorial
3/24/2011 7:00:43 PM



Is there any such formula that would go on to prove that a film being made would go on to become a hit?

'Sadly, there is no such formula. All that one needs is a good plot that would relate to the audience,' said noted filmmaker Shyam Benegal. He, along with scriptwriter Anjum Rajabali, filmmaker Ramesh Sippy, storywriter Shibani Bathija and Australian filmmaker Ian Booth were debating on the subject of 'The Business of Filmmaking' in a session at the ongoing FICCI FRAMES 2011.

'Unlike the olden days, today, a lot of investment goes into a film project; so one has to be abundantly clear of the film he wants to make, scrutinizing each and every detail, from story to script to other parts of the filmmaking process. He should work in such a way where his money doesn't go down the drain and he is able to recover his investment in the project,' Benegal added. Besides, there are umpteen other ways to recover the money from like cable rights, satellite right, home video, he observed.

Talking of why our films don't work in the West, Bathija said, 'Most of our filmmakers, still follow our traditional ways of filmmaking of incorporating nine emotions like 'Music, love, tragedy comedy, society, children, the slap, God, S-X and goodness in their films whereas, in comparison, filmmakers in the West have films on genres like ' Tragedy, comedy, family drama, musical and thriller'. We understand and applaud films from the West, it is for them to also understand our films,' Bathija observed.

Cautioned Rajabali, 'Filmmakers should always bear it in mind that if a project is not viable, there is no point making a film.' For example he cited if one were to invest enormous funds in a film starring Boman Irani, then the film would not give the amount of returns that a Salman Khan film or a Shahrukh Khan would give. 'He should never do the film,' Rajabali quipped.

It is amazing to note that the country which produces a thousand films a year is yet finding out the answer as to why 85 per cent of our films flop every year.

'There are yet people in states like UP, MP, Bihar, Bengal and Orissa whose one day salary equals to a ticket price, but yet they line up to see a film that turns out bad,' Rajabali lamented.

'Films don't flop, it is the budget of the film that falters,' averred Sippy while speaking on the subject. Sometimes it so happens that once a filmmaker finishes his film, his project is taken over by distributors, exhibitors who want him to effect several changes to make the film look more groovy. 'For the changes, the filmmaker spends quite a lot and eventually when the film flops, it is he who suffers by way of a loss,' observed Sippy.

Talking of collaborations and joint ventures, Sippy said, 'While initially planning out CHANDNI CHOWK TO CHINA, it sounded nice that there would be a story of an Indian based in China. When I took the storyline to Warner Brothers, they lapped up the idea. But the film failed and the Hollywood studio burnt its fingers.'

But such kind of films would be made by the dozens in the future, Sippy hoped, adding, 'Storytelling is bound to change and then would see good days returning back o India,' Sippy hoped.