WE NEED A RONNIE SCREWVALA
by Sathwik N N
I come from Shivamogga. I had been there last week for Ugadi. We are a cinephilic family, so, the very next question from my sister after “how are you?” was “which movie did you watch recently?”. I gave her a long list of Hindi and English movies. “Kannada?”, she asked. I thought… thought and thought and thought. It had been a long time. ”Sidlingu” I said. “That was released ages ago, you didn’t watch any movie after that?!”, she was surprised. (I watch too many movies, so a gap of three months seemed ages for her). But I hadn’t. In Shivamogga, hardly any Hindi or English movies released, so I used to watch all those movies which I felt wouldn’t be pathetic (that doesn’t mean they were good). But here…
In Bengaluru, I have everything on my platter, that is, I have CHOICE. The Artist, Paan Singh Tomar and Lucky, all relese at a time here. And will the latter be at par with the first two? With the kind of publicity they get and considering the quality of movies these filmmakers have given earlier, people obviously head towards The Artist and PST. Atleast that is what I did. That is what is happening right now. Kannada movies are competing at the local level, national level and international level at a time! Is this a problem? Well, I see this as an opportunity.
Let us assume that Shahrukh’s and Puneeth’s films are scheduled to release on the same day. And just imagine, Sharukh postpones his release date because Puneeth’s film is releasing in Karnataka! Isn’t it wonderful to just think of? North Indians are migrating in large numbers to Bengaluru and the city is turning out to be a good market place for Bollywood. And if we can give them a healthy competiton and challenge them, we will be treated with so much respect! What more can Kannadigas ask for?
“It takes two to make a great career”, says Ayn Rand, “the man who is great, and the man-almost rarer- who is great enough to see greatness and say so”. The great directors of 60s and 70s were unable to produce more directors like themselves. As a result, a vaccum was created and now we are feeling the aftereffects. There are only countable number of good filmmakers at present. That is the reason why the number of hits at the end of every year hardly gets into double figures. And then there are these talented people fleeing away. “Naanu Nanna Kanasu” was a great film. Whoever watched it, loved it. But where is Prakash Rai now? Gone. He fled away to Tamil, because he didn’t get the response he expected for NNK. If he had done another movie, he could have cashed on to his reputation of making NNK and the new film would have been a bigger hit. He could have built his own set of audience by making much more movies. That is how Anurag Kashyap built his set of audience. We all know how Black Friday crashed at the box office, but now, we are eagerly waiting for Bombay Velvet to take off.
The problem is not only with the directors, but also with the content. Some illogical scripts are made movies these days. Consider Sanju weds Geeta for example. In this era where children of class 9 are taught about oral contraceptives, who on earth will become pregnant after being raped? This is just an example on how our filmmakers aren’t getting updated to the present scenario. Nowadays we see free passes being distributed in front of theatres. The makers are selling themselves for FREE! I don’t know if they feel ashamed or not, but I do as a Kannadiga.
There is no parallel cinema at all in our industry. Whereas in Hindi, the best works come from this section. These movies give something for the audience to connect with. That is where the success of a movie lies. Eddelu Manjunatha is a hit not because of the amount of money it garnered, but people could see their mirror images on screen. The film never dies. Satya was out of theatres in UP within three days of its release, but today, we consider Satya as an epic movie in Hindi cinema, whereas we won’t remember Ra.One after a few years eventhough it broke all box office records.
We have no examples of movies which are screened at film festivals as well as make money. Art and commerce are completely differentiated here. Also, there are hardly any character oriented movies. The stars rule the roost. There are instances where stories are changed to fit the image of the actor, whereas the process should have been other way around.
Gone are those days when films used run for a year. Even very good movies will be out of theatre within 10 to 15 weeks from release. Until a year after that, we can’t watch the movie even if we want to, because the DVDs are released only after a year. And then there are campaigns against piracy. My dear producers, release the DVDs quickly instead of campaigning against piracy.
All these has to change and it WILL. It is pure intuition but I can feel the new wave approaching. It might take a few more years, a decade maybe, but it will surely come. And when it comes, we, both the film fraternity and the audience, must be ready to accept it. And most importantly, we need producers who are open to new ideas. We need a Ronnie Screwvala. He is the backbone of New Hindi Cinema. Almost all the so called parallel movies in Hindi are produced by him. They are not just sent to film festivals, but they are released in theatres and they MAKE MONEY. This is what we need as audience- an amalgam of art and commerce. I hope our needs are fulfilled in the coming days. Well, obeying us is the only way for the industry to survive
Who knows, one day Sharukh might be really forced to postpone his release date…