Content plays a crucial role in the Indian films and the characters play a pivotal role. A screenplay or content carries more weight in the films. These screenplays can be original works or adaptations from the existing pieces of writing. In them, the movement, actions, expression, and dialogues of the characters are also narrated. Films are an expression of creativity and money has nothing to do with them. Cinematic history is strife with stories where many low budget films have created a shift in the market trends while many big budget films have bombed.
And, the story is constructed to take advantage of the considerable power of cinema. The visual experience happens to us. It can be grand, perhaps in the films from South have more technicalities, the movies from Bollywood have melodious songs and Bhojpuri films are entertainers and we as cinegoers look for content in the quality of the films.
Some examples of low budget films that did well include Mr. and Mrs. Iyer and Hyderabad Blues in the past that succeeded well at the Box office. Some big banner films that flopped include Kites and Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag.
All of the above-mentioned films, in fact, had a great star cast, with crores of rupees being pumped into them, but they failed to make a mark. The reason for this is a mental shift in the thinking of the audience. Gone are the days when audiences would fill up cinema halls just because a movie had been filmed in a good location.
Besides, cinema is losing its old-world charm. Gone are the days when the audience were star-struck. Today, stars are no longer an enigma or mystery. Page 3 of every newspaper bares the stars. For those who are spared by the media, there’s social media. Stars today tweet, connect on Facebook and come on the radio and television. They open up to their audiences. Their fans know and accept that stars too are human beings, just like them. They have faults too, they have a life too.
With the mystery of cinema solved, and the stars losing their larger than life persona, content has become the king. Unless a film has a track that’s compelling enough to hold the attention of the audiences, banner and big names can’t make a difference.
The Corporates entered the cine field in the year 2006 and messed it up because they bumped in ridiculous money without checking on the business viability of the projects. But we are in a corrective space now. Today, it is increasingly becoming difficult to shoot in any part of India. You have to bribe the police and extract individual permissions to shoot a single sequence. In foreign locations, you are given blanket permissions. That is why a lot of foreign filmmakers shoot India in Thailand.
Bollywood has discovered the art of marketing and reaching out to as many people in the audience as possible. Obscene amounts of money are spent to ensure that viable film makes a lot of noise before it comes. The Hindi Cinema is now doing experiments. Casting a 14-year-old child as AURO would have diluted the impact the character made when Mr. Amitabh Bachchan played it. When you see your favourite star doing something extraordinary, the experience of watching the film gets even better. In a film like Taare Zameen Par, you needed a 12-year-old boy to play the lead character. At the Box Office Love, Sex and Dhoka made Rs 9 crore and it was produced for Rs 1.5 crore.
Both My Name is Khan and Raavan failed at the Box Office with too much of publicity and star value. But the terrible big films that may have lost on the critics appraise have grossed a lot more. It just proves that people just don’t want big stars. A Film with big stars boomerang at the Box Office and at the same time a film with little-known stars do well at the Box Office.
Thus, the audience loves a change and the appearance of the same stars are not liked by many. Small films have been lost in the world of mainstream films, 80 per cent of which are terrible. But at the same time, not all small films are great. It is always advisable to get good work and reach it to as many as possible to assure greater success at the Box Office. The film should reach C grade cities also like Gaddar and Lagaan did and made big money. There lies the success of Hindi Cinema World.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)