Bollywood Hungama
Last Updated 14.08.2018 | 1:36 PM IST
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Bollywood and Beyond: And then God said ‘Let there be Audience!’

A man was ready to jump off by the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea. God appears in a whitening flash to intervene. God asks him…why he was committing suicide. The 60-year-old chap humbly replies, “I am a film projectionist and I quit my job as I saw the cinema halls empty day after day. The audience is simply not interested in coming for the movies. I knew I would lose my job soon so why wait till then”. God sneezes after taking in some salty winds and then probes, “You have been projecting movies in cinema since the last forty years… tell me why the audience is shying away from the movie theatres”. The old man laughs and retorts, “As if you don’t know, you see the days of silver and golden jubilees are beyond recall. In the era of multiplexes and opening weekend collections, the audience can now easily smell a rat. Today, producers either make films to launch their sons or upgrade his stardom, or they make crass movies with big stars to trick the cash-rich film companies, or they make films for a superstar or star director who wants to y**k off his personal fantasies. But all of this on whose expense…Who considers the audience…What would they like to see…Who really cares who the audience really is now!!!

God sighs and in a tone filled with humility he mumbles, “Let me find out for myself”. In a flash, God lands up in an autorickshaw with some filmi music in jhankar beats playing on stereo. God asks the young driver about his waning interest in watching movies. The rickshaw fellow exclaims, “Wrong question…wrong guy…I am now the pirated DVD watcher and the cinemas I go to or rather can afford, play B grade Hindi or regional films… so go shop somewhere else.” Subsequently, God interrogates a yuppie college going couple getting cozy behind the sea rocks. The college kids laughs and confess, “We go to movies to hold hands and stick together. What film we watch is irrelevant… anyways it’s all a rehash of mundane stuff…” Consequently, God enters a local bank and probes. A middle-aged banker loosens his tie and replies “I maintain a family of four and with the soaring ticket prices I can afford a movie only once in a couple of months, so I pick and choose accordingly…I wait for a good word of mouth, but the fact remains that I don’t watch more than five to six movies a year and for the rest of the time there is always TV”. Next a young couple, employed as software professionals, begins to sneer when God demands an explanation from them. They quip in chorus, “We are modern intellectuals, do they really consider us while dishing out humdrum Bollywood cinema…” Finally, God takes a seat next to a capitalist in the business class section of an airplane and asks him for his excuse for neglecting the movies at the multiplex. He sips his Bloody Mary and shoots in baritone, “Of course I enjoy movies; I don’t miss a single Hollywood blockbuster and watch it in whichever country I am traveling to…Bollywood films…that’s for my housekeeping staff to watch it on TV in between their working shifts”.

The projectionist smiles at God and says, “You see what I mean…like rats on a sinking ship, the movie buffs are scampering away. They are shifting their loyalty to alternate means of entertainment, thus making movies plunge towards a decline trend. The only thing that is shooting up is the ticket price because the producers new mantra is ‘now or never’… it’s all about the first weekend of the film release.”

God feels miserably helpless after hearing out the grey projectionist and consults him for a plausible solution to revive the failing legacy. The old man rubs his hair and exclaims, “Let the real talent kiss the audience…” God raises his eyebrows with a confused look. The old man continues with a wrinkled smile, “Talent (read as actors, producers, directors, screenwriters and other technicians) need to put all their focus in understanding the changing needs of the ever evolving film-going audience and thus make movies that will woo back the movie buffs with a vengeance, hopefully before the Internet and the iphone kill’s cinema and the cinema halls. Talent needs to put all their energy to create compelling cinema that can engage a diverse range of audience…Talent needs to identify their audience first and then take them into confidence with their passion…Talent needs to then ensure that their content is promoted and marketed in the fitting fashion that will not only entice the viewers to come to the screening halls but also precisely satisfy their infatuation for fine cinema.”

God gets electric and is quick to add, “Human beings are emotional beings… Cinema gives a very charged, wholesome and meaningful emotional experience that ushers immediate gratification… And if we disregard this very purpose, then why make movies…” God beams with enlightenment and requests the projectionist to resume his job while he (God) will make sure that the audience does return to movies, slowly but steadily. And then God said, “Let there be audience!” Next day, the projectionist returns to his multiplex with renewed hope and in one corner he notices a cinema hall worker putting up a signboard that reads as ‘Housefull’.

Any guesses, what movie was going houseful??? Na na… Don’t be ridiculous! ?Try again!!!

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