Desi Content Works

Looks like we’re going back in time; if you see the subjects of two recent hits, Sui Dhaaga- Made In India and Badhaai Ho, they are right from mid-20th Century.

For that matter, even Raazi can be included in the list. The film was about a Kashmiri Muslim girl marrying into a Pakistani army family to spy on behalf of her country, India. A decade and half or so post India’s independence that kind of feeling of patriotism did exist. What matters is, the moviegoers lapped it up.

The filmmakers are trying to either go for old-fashioned subjects or the unconventional subjects.

Dangal is one major example of an unconventional native theme, combined with national fervour that not only succeeded but minted crores. The film was based on a real life characters. Rustom, also on a similar theme, also worked through a fictional account. The other examples are Akshay Kumar’s Gold, Rani Mukerji’s Hichki and John Abraham’s Parmanu: The Story OfPokhran, which gave John’s career a much needed reprieve.

Also, what has worked are biopics. It seems like we have some real life heroes to boast about.

There was a trend when most major producers shot their films abroad. Scripts were concocted in an attempt to justify the idea of foreign locales.

Can you imagine a film like Anjaana Anjaani, starring Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra, where both meet for the first time on a bridge over a river,somewhere in America, contemplating suicide? They could well have been doing it on Vasai Bridge in Mumbai or a bridge across river Ganga! There was no justification in shooting the film abroad and, not surprisingly, the film bombed badly.

Then there was this Karan Johar film, Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna. A totally illogical film where a selfish woman, Rani Mukerji, leaves her husband, Abhishek Bachchan, for Shah Rukh Khan. And, what does Amitabh Bachchan’s character do in the film? His character is into whoring and, guess what? He brings women to a house which his son and daughter in law share with him. Making films abroad is fine but forgetting the Indian audience’s sensibilities assures they are a failure.

There are scores of such films shot abroad with no rhyme or reason. Not only were the locations aliens but so were the subjects.

Indian films are all about identifying with your audience and most of these films shot abroad failed to do that. There was this beautiful love story, Jaaneman, produced by SajidNadiadwala and directed by Shirish Kunder. Great music and a star cast to relish in Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar and Preity Zinta, backed by some of the most melodious songs. What went wrong with the film? The foreign set up with a studio sets look! That was one film which did not deserve to fail and could have launched Kunder on the path of success.

Looks like we are going back in time to our tried and tested theme—Indian content. And, guess what? These films cost much less compared to those hi-funda films with stars and special effects shot abroad.

What worked for a time, was remakes of movies from the South, as most stars resisted moving out of the formula that gave them a few hits. This stubborn stand accounted for ra ecent spate of flops for Salman Khan as well as Shah Rukh Khan, while Akshay Kumar, who is game to do any kind of film that is away from the formula, has benefitted a lot. Akshay’s films like Toilet: EkPrem Katha and PadMan are the kind of subjects the super stars like Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan would, probably, have not ventured into.

To make a film with a lesser star, sayAyushman, or a yet to be established star like Varun Dhavan, you need something utterly saleable. And, that happens when you have a subject that appeals. Can you even imagine a title like Sui Dhaaga-Made In India or Badhaai Ho drawing a first day audience, let alone going on to become a roaring success minting money in crores. While Salman Khan films like Tubelight and Race 3, flopping badly, as did Shah Rukh Khan’s recent films?

What worked was deglamourised Anushka, Alia and their co-stars. Also, despite the modern outlook, deep within, we still remain traditional and identify with a topic like Badhaaai Ho. As for Sui Dhaaga-Made In India, who doesn’t like a rags to riches success story?

Nationalism has its seasons for success too, when films like Raazi and Parmanu: The Story OfPokhran are appealing to the audience.

@ The Box Office

The week that past saw five new releases. This, pre Diwali period, is traditionally, the worst time for the entertainment industry. A new release is a sacrilege. But, we had five!

One of the five films was  a Saif Ali Khan film, Bazaar, which deals with the subject of the stock market. Very few people would be interested in this theme, yet fewer still in a Saif Ali Khan film; and to release it in this period amounted to sacrificing the film for the sake of empty cinema screens.

# Bazaar, managed to collect 10.5 crore for the opening weekend, and is rated in the top five new films to hit the screens, but was just not good enough. The film is expected to close its opening week with a tally of about 16 crore, but it will be a loser.

# Kaashi-In Search OfGanga, the next best film, bordered on disastrous collection figures. It didn’t even  manage a crore for its opening weekend. The film may just about close its opening week at a meagre 1 crore.

# The other three films, 5 Weddings, Dassehra and The Journey Of Karma, are best left unmentioned.