In a poll conducted by 'Trade Guide' last week, in its Diwali edition, we asked a number of film-makers the reasons that led to the crisis in the film industry and what could be done to overcome it. And almost everyone was unanimous – we need to work on novel scripts. Innovative scripts are the need of the hour.
It has been observed time and again that it's the ideas that work, not stars. The industry is slowly waking up to this fact. Gone are the days when the presence of a star translated into a terrific opening for the film. Not anymore. The cold response to the Diwali releases confirms the fact. More about that later.
The scenario in the industry continues to be grim. Films are flopping at an alarming rate. Worse, almost all films have failed to fetch even a face-saving opening. What ails the industry? Are people just not interested in movies anymore?
That's not the case. The glamour of the big screen still attracts an ordinary man. It can never fade. But there are several reasons for the downfall, topping the list are the questionable quality of film scripts.
At a politician's party last week, a leading industrialist asked me a pertinent question that set me thinking – Why can't our film-makers experiment with stories? If Hollywood can reinvent itself, why can't we? Agreed, we don't have the funds to make ventures on such lavish budgets. But we can at least make a beginning.
Around two months ago, I was conversing with a top-ranking actor in between a shoot, and in walked in his trusted friend cum producer. Am reproducing snatches of the conversation, that left me spellbound –
Producer: Have decided to present you in a different way this time. (taking out a DVD of an English film) This is what we're planning to make…
Actor: Arre yaar, yeh to X (producer) bana raha hain, Y (actor) ke saath. Instead, why don't you watch **** (name of another Hollywood flick). And let's make it pretty fast before it inspires anyone else.
I was dumbfounded. I was speechless. My mind started thinking that very moment. I'd found the answer to the many questions that people keep asking me time and again.
There is bankruptcy of ideas in Bollywood. We don't want to tax our brains. Who wants to work when everything is available at the click of a button?
So when movies bomb and bomb badly, we shouldn't complain. Because we are to blame for the mess we've landed ourselves in.
THINGS SHOULD IMPROVE IN DECEMBER
While a few people in the industry feel that the scenario won't improve till next year, I'm an optimistic. I have this feeling that things would change for the better in December. There's so much to look forward to – KAANTE, RISHTEY, KARZ, TALAASH, AAPKO PEHLE BHI KAHIN DEKHA HAI, ANDAAZ, SAATHIYA, SATTA, JAAL… all eagerly-awaited flicks.
But the next four weeks – right till December 6 – are bound to be precarious for the film industry. It's a known fact that the box-office collections register a drastic drop during the holy month of Ramzan and most exhibitors are predicting an all-time low phase in the coming days.
“Business-wise, the next 4 weeks will be the worst phase for the film industry. Business will touch rock bottom,” says Nester D'Souza, the President of Cinematograph Exhibitors' Association of India.
Rashesh Kanakia, who changed the theatre-going experience in Mumbai with his string of cinemas, echoes similar sentiments. Says he, “The film industry is going through a depressing phase and the business will crash further. I'm thinking of reducing the admission rates at my cinema halls.”
Manoj Desai, a very big name in the Mumbai exhibition sector, feels that “the next 4 weeks will take business further down. The attendance in theatres is bound to be at an all-time low,” he asserts.
Which explains why a number of films have been postponed to December. KAANTE, for instance, is ready, but the makers have decided to wait till December.
Ditto for Anubhav Sinha, who could've released his AAPKO PEHLE BHI KAHIN DEKHA HAI in November (he's through with his post-production already!), but has decided to release it on December 13. Ditto for Vimal Kumar, who has also decided to release his SUNO SASURJEE in December, although his film is ready.
NO BRIGHTNESS THIS DIWALI
And now to the Diwali releases!
It was the bleakest Diwali for the film industry. None of the three major releases – JEENA SIRF MERRE LIYE, ANNARTH and WAAH…! TERA KYA KEHNA – managed a great opening despite the holiday period. Let's have a look at the mid-week response to the Diwali releases. An IndiaFM exclusive.
JEENA SIRF MERE LIYE
Opened to a mixed response in Mumbai city-suburbs. The business got a boost on Diwali, for 2/3 days, but the collections dropped subsequently… Is doing quite well at multiplexes of Gujarat, but is not strong at several theatres… Got a boost in Pune due to the Diwali holidays, but reports are below par… Had an average to dull start in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. Reports are not strong… Kolkata city-suburbs is dull. Not appreciated… Nagpur is so-so… Jaipur isn't strong… Indore is weak… Opening in Hyderabad was nice…
The weekend collections at some cinema halls of Mumbai city-suburbs were nice, at some places they were cold… Not too strong in Gujarat… 2/3 days were good in Pune, but reports are not strong… Opening response in Delhi city-suburbs was not up to the mark. However, the opening was better in Uttar Pradesh… Has some chances at small theatres/centres of Bengal due to action… Had an average start in Indore… Jaipur is average… Had a fairly good start in Hyderabad…
WAAH…! TERA KYA KEHNA
Opening in Mumbai city-suburbs was dull… Didn't take a decent start in Gujarat. The audience attendance was thin in several cities… Pune is weak as well… Had a poor start in Delhi-Uttar Pradesh… Kolkata is poor as well… Its start in Nagpur was also poor… Collections in Jaipur are equally bad…