How to prove Wikileaks wrong?

The figures quoted in Wikileaks’ cable are only an eye opener. No star is today guarantee of box office success, yet they refuse to do away with their astronomical prices. The corporate houses that entered in the film production some years back were looked upon as to mend the ways for film making in Mumbai and take it out from the grip of money launders.

Cinematorium
By Pankaj Shukla

wikileaks

Two things were noticeable this week in Hindi Cinema.
First The Hindu published a cable released by Wikileaks sent to American officers in India to their home country about the way Hindi Cinema works and how the fakism of this industry has reached to a level where the bubble can burst any time. The cable talks about the over rated prices demanded by some of the top film actors and the over budgeted films being made in Mumbai. The cable speaks about quotes of many authoritative film makers who are of the opinion that if the budgets of Hindi films are not cut down drastically, the industry will see its doom’s day very soon.

Second is the film being released this week I Am. The film is a compilation of four short stories and directed by gay activist Onir. The noticeable things about this film is not only the good craft that its actors and crew have put into it to make it a commendable film but also the way the funds have been generated for it. The film is helped by contributors from 45 different cities across globe and even a city like Kanpur represents its co producers. Though, the film’s main producers Sanjay Suri and Onir yet to clear all their bills for the equipments and services used for making this film, the very fact that it has been liked by most of the people gathered to watch it in a special show organized at Yashraj films studio, which is again situated in the campus of one of the biggest studio of India and known for making big budget films. I saw associate producer and actor of the film Juhi Chawla roaming around in lawn of the studio and trying to recognize some special plants grown in the vicinity. And, again overheard her talks with a journalist and telling her how novice she is in money matters.

First thing first, most of the industries around the world which were hit by the recession three years ago are now somehow trying to regains their spirit and production both. But, a look at all these three years in Hindi Cinema, and prices of stars have only been increasing. The figures quoted in Wikileaks’ cable are only an eye opener. No star is today guarantee of box office success, yet they refuse to do away with their astronomical prices. The corporate houses that entered in the film production some years back were looked upon as to mend the ways for film making in Mumbai and take it out from the grip of money launders. But to keep their share prices high, they went on announcing one project after another with huge budgets and prices for the actors that were unheard of. They raised the money for these films from the market and again sold these low on content and high on glamour films to the same share holders in the market. Then every film just after the three days’ of its release was declared a hit and huge collections were quoted in the newspapers and hoardings. Thanks to Income Tax department’s raid on the offices of Arbaaz Khan, the producer of Dabangg that this practice has now slowed down if not stopped. Income Tax sleuths could not find any detail of the money that Arbaaz has publicized against his film’s collections.

Hindi Cinema is getting butchered by its own men. Everyone here talks about content being the king but the very few bother to search for the good content in fact. Every director is asked to get stars, and every start asks for a big banner. It becomes like a chicken and egg situation for a good but new director to start a film which might be a good story but when he finds himself in a situation like this, he sits back at home and works on mediocre things to earn his family’s bread and butter. Wikileaks’ cable is just an indication to what is going on in Hindi film industry. The point was proven last year with the decision of T Series of not to release Puja Bhatt directed Kajrare, a film which has a super star in fading Himesh Reshamiya, properly. To sell film’s satellite rights they had to complete formality of film’s theatrical release and that they did it by releasing the film in just three theatres, two in Mumbai and one in Pune. Same doom looms upon another film of Himesh, A Love Isshtory directed by Sarfarosh fame John Mathew Mathan. Both these films are high budgeted films but could not find any takers to distribute and exhibit them. T series people were clever enough to not waste money on publicity of these films and did away silently.

On the other hands films like I Am, Chalo Dilli at present and Tere Bin Laden, Bheja Fry and others in recent past not only generated good curiosity among viewers but also did good business for their producers. As a trade analyst puts it, it is safer to make a Rs. 5 Crore budget films and earn the money back than to make a Rs. 50 Crore budget film and lose everything. Films like I Am and Chalo Dilli are a welcome change in Hindi Cinema and their success can only make Hindi Cinema survive and prove the Wikileaks prediction wrong. Amen!

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