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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

How To Prove Wikileaks Wrong

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

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!

Sachin Bhowmik mastered the phenomenon of rebirth and double roles in Hindi Cinema

Cinematorium
By Pankaj Shukla

Sachin Bhowmik passed away.  As soon as the message flashed away on my mobile,  I shared It with some young guns of journalism standing around after an event hosted by Sub hash Ghazi who launched more than half a dozen of new talents including few actors from his acting school Whistling Woods during the proceedings. He was in gaiety and joy to see his disciples taking a new plunge in the mad mad world of Hindi Cinema or Bollywood as they say it in Mumbai in general lingo. Amitabh Bachchan and Salman Khan hate this word Bollywood and so do I. I prefer calling it Hindi Cinema. But, time has changed and no new/young journalist finished his copy without using this 8 letter word. These young wordsmiths asked me in curiosity, Sir, Who was he? I walked away from there thinking this is the change time has witnessed being Hindi Cinema to Bollywood. Here nobody cares for bygones.

After some time I called up Jalees Sherwani who is at the helm of looking after affairs of The Film Writers Association, he showed his grief but when I asked him if there is any condolence meeting planned among the writer fraternity. His reply made me feel more sad. He informed me it being a holiday, nothing could be organized in TFWA’s office. Sachin Bhowmik has been a veteran in creating characters who spoke like any ordinary common man and yet achieved their dreams on celluloid. He created super hit characters for Shammi Kapoor in films like Janwar, Brahmchari, An Evening In Paris among others. He gave Rajesh Khanna a start in Aradhana that would create such a huge fan following form him that he became a Super Star in days to come.  Rishi Kapoor tasted his first brush with Stardom post Bobby in Khel Khel Mien again written by Sachin Bhowmik. When I spoke to Rishi, he was sad. He told me about the relationship he maintained with this brilliant wordsmith. Sachin Bhowmik wrote many films for Rishi Kapoor including his first directorial venture Aa Ab Laut Chalien.  He gave credit of his success to Sachin Bhowmik without holding any words. He was all praise for a person who gave life to fictitious characters for him.

Subhash Ghai was also at loss thinking about his relationship with Sachin Bhowmik who wrote 10 films for the once called new show man of Hindi Cinema. From Karz to Karma to Saudagar to Yuvraj, Sachin Bhowmik has been an inseparable member of his writing team for more than two decades. Rajesh Roshan’s father in law had given Sachin Bhowmik his first major break in Aayi Milan Ki Bela, the Rajendra Kumar starrer which went on to become a cult film in Hindi film industry. This was beginning of a writer who will wrote as diverse romantic films for three generations of actors as Aaye Din Bahar Ke, Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai , Aan Milo Sajna, Andaaz, Yeh Dillagi and Kisna. Rishi Kapoor aptly said, Sahchin Bhowmik crated magic for every era of romantic films all his life.  In later years, Sachin would write free handedly for his son-in-law Rakesh Roshan for films like Koyla, Karan Arjun and Karobar. It was Sachin Bhowmik only who wrote screenplay of Koi Mil Gaya and Krrish which catapulted J Om Prakash’s grandson Hrithik into a super hero. Thus, He paid back the obligation that he received from Hrithik’s grandfather.

Content is the king, one can hear this phrase from every next producer of this Hindi film industry but even now if any new director goes to them with a story the first question that they ask, who is the star he has got agreed to do this film. Life moves on and so will move on the Hindi film industry but as Amitabh Bachchan says Sachin Bhowmik will always be remembered as a prolific writer who mastered phenomenon of rebirth and double roles in Hindi Cinema.

Beginning of a writer who wrote as diverse romantic films for three generations of actors as Aaye Din Bahar Ke, Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai , Aan Milo Sajna, Andaaz, Yeh Dillagi and Kisna. Rishi Kapoor aptly said, Sahchin Bhowmik created magic for every era of romantic films all his life. In later years, Sachin would write free handedly for his son-in-law Rakesh Roshan for films like Koyla, Karan Arjun and Karobar. It was Sachin Bhowmik only who wrote screenplay of Koi Mil Gaya and Krrish which catapulted J Om Prakash’s grandson Hrithik into a super hero. Thus, he paid back the obligation that he received from Hrithik’s grandfather.

Content is the king, one can hear this phrase from every next producer of this Hindi film industry but even now if any new director goes to them with a story the first question that they ask, who is the star he has got agreed to do this film. Life moves on and so will move on the Hindi film industry but as Amitabh Bachchan says Sachin Bhowmik will always be remembered as a prolific writer who mastered phenomenon of rebirth and double roles in Hindi Cinema.

रिन साबुन की बट्टी है अनुराग की उड़ान

अगर आपकी क़लम का ताल्लुक हिंदी सिनेमा से है और आप दुनिया के सामने दिखने वाले सच के गिरेबां में झांकने की हिम्मत रखते हैं, तो अनुराग कश्यप से आपकी मुठभेड़ गाहे बेगाहे होती रहना तय है। कभी रू ब रू और कभी बाकैमरे। लेकिन, अनुराग के काम की तारीफ करना हिंदी सिनेमा के किसी भी क़लमनवीस के लिए ख़तरे की घंटी भी हो सकती है। कभी भी कोई हिंदी सिनेमा का “भगवान” आपकी लेखनी की स्याही निचोड़ सकता है, क्योंकि अनुराग के बारे में लिखना हिंदी सिनेमा में चल रही एक ऐसी लड़ाई के एक पाले में खड़े होने जैसा है, जिसमें बाहर से आए किसी आम आदमी के लिए जगह मिल पाना नामुमकिन भले ना हो पर मुश्किल ज़रूर है। और, आम आदमी के बारे में बात करना अब बस फैशन रह गया है, जज़्बा नहीं। मेरे ज़िले के मरहूम शायर हसरत मोहानी का एक शैर ऐसे मौके-बेमौके मुझे याद आ ही जाता है और उसे मैं कितनी बार भी इस्तेमाल करूं, बेशर्म की चमक कम नहीं होती – हज़ार ख़ौफ़ हों पर ज़ुबां हो दिल की रफ़ीक़, यही रहा है अजल से कलंदरों का तरीक़।

अपन बात कर रहे थे अनुराग कश्यप की। बीते साल उन्होंने एक ऐसी कहानी को हाथ लगाया जिसे करीब करीब हर प्रोड्यूसर कूड़े में फेंक चुका था। संजय लीला भंसाली के असिस्सटेंट रहे विक्रमादित्य मोटवाने की ये कहानी अनुराग ने पढ़ी तो बहुत पहले थी लेकिन संजय सिंह के साथ मिलकर इसे बनाने का मुहूर्त तभी निकला। उड़ान बनी। चली नहीं चली, इसके आंकड़ों में ना भी जाएं तो सराही बहुत गई। असली हुनरमंद भी कभी पैसे के पीछे नहीं भागता, उसके लिए हौसला बढ़ाने के लिए बजी दो तालियां दोनों जहां की मन्नतें कुबूल होने जैसा होता है। विक्रमादित्य की इस फिल्म ने तमाम देसी विदेशी फिल्म फेस्टिवल्स में तारीफ पाई और मराठों के मैदान में आते आते एक ऐसी गंगा बन गई, जिसमें करोड़ों फूंक कर अपनी मर्जी का तमाशा करने वाले फिल्म अवार्ड्स अपने पाप धोने के लिए बार बार डुबकी लगा रहे हैं। उड़ान इन लोगों के लिए रिन साबुन की ऐसी बट्टी बन गई है जिससे दरअसल इन अवार्ड्स वालों को अपने दामन पर लगे दाग धोने की सहूलियत हो गई है।

अनुराग को उसूलों से समझौता करना न विरासत में मिला और उन्होंने अपने हौसले को समझौतो के आगे घुटने भी नहीं टेकने दिए। उनकी लड़ाई एक ऐसी व्यवस्था से रही है, जहां सितारों को भगवान माना जाता है। शोहरत की बुलंदियां छूने के बाद भी उनका ये जुझारूपन कायम है, अनथक और अविराम। उनके दफ्तर मेरा जाना अब तक दो ही बार हुआ है। मुंबई के उपनगर अंधेरी में आरामनगर का ये इलाका अपने नाम के लिहाज से बिल्कुल उलट है। यहां हर वक्त जिंदगी बेतरतीब सी बिखरी दिखती है। फिल्म निर्माताओं के दफ्तरों के सामने काम पाने की चाहत रखने वाले युवाओं की बेतरतीब कतारें, रास्ते में बेतरतीब से खड़े पेड़ या फिर फिल्म निर्देशक अनुराग कश्यप के दफ्तर तक पहुंचने का बेतरतीब रास्ता। दफ्तर के रिसेप्शन पर एक फ्रेम में लगा फिल्म नो स्मोकिंग का पोस्टर भी इसी का एक्सटेंशन मालूम होता है। पोस्टर पर छपा है – इन सिनेमाज 26 अक्टूबर 2007। इसके नीचे अलग से टाइप करके चिपकाया गया है – आउट ऑफ सिनेमाज 30 अक्टूबर 2010। अपने हर लफ्ज पर दाद की चाह रखने वालों के शहर में अपनी ही फिल्म के पोस्टर पर अपने ही हाथों चिपकाई गई ये चिप्पी अनुराग कश्यप की शख्सीयत का सबसे छोटा लेकिन सबसे सटीक परिचय है।

उड़ान के किरदारों की मनोदशा की चुगली अनुराग के दफ्तर की दीवारें करती हैं। फिल्म रिलीज से पहले हुई बातचीत में अनुराग ने कहा था, अपने यहां टीन एजर्स को लेकर हल्ला तो बहुत है, लेकिन सच पूछें तो उनको जानने की कोशिश हम ईमानदारी से कर नहीं रहे। पहले जो संवाद दो पीढ़ियों के बीच कभी कभार ही होता था, वह अब खूब होता है लेकिन फिर भी कहीं न कहीं कुछ न कुछ दूरी जरूर है। हम टीनएजर्स के लिए फिल्में भी इसीलिए ईमानदारी से नहीं बना पाते। इस आयुवर्ग में सिर्फ कैंडीफ्लॉस रोमांस ही नहीं होता। ये पीढ़ी कांतिशाह के अंगूर भले देखती हो लेकिन वह हम सबसे बहुत आगे है। उसे अपने कल की हमसे ज्यादा चिंता है। जिस उम्र में हम लोग अश्लील साहित्य की तरफ आकर्षित होते थे, उस उम्र तक आते आते तो ये पीढ़ी सब कुछ देख भी चुकी होती है और उससे उकता भी चुकी होती है। आज 40 की उम्र के लोग भले अकेले में इंटरनेट पाने पर पॉर्न साइट्स पर जाना न चूकते हों, लेकिन आज के टीनएजर्स अकेले होते हैं तो भी अमूमन ऐसा नहीं करते। अनुराग की यही पारखी नज़र उन्हें बाकी के निर्देशकों से अलग करती है।

अनुराग की तारीफ में लिखना हिंदी सिनेमा में अपने दुश्मन बढ़ाने जैसा ही है। इसके खामियाजे से मैं दो चार हो भी चुका हूं। लेकिन, फिल्म शूल के वक्त दिल्ली के फिल्म्स डिवीजन ऑडीटोरियम के बाहर फुटपाथ किनारे मिले अनुराग और आज के अनुराग में फर्क ना दिखना ही इसकी भरपाई कर देता है। अपन बेझिझक उनके पाले में खड़े हो सकते हैं, क्योंकि जो तटस्थ हैं, वक्त उनका भी इतिहास किस तरह लिखेगा, फिलहाल तो मालूम नहीं।

(लेखक वरिष्ठ पत्रकार और फिल्ममेकर हैं)