The 'significant' filmmakers of Bollywood now seem to be resorting to the same age-old commercial formulae, which they otherwise weren't expected to touch with a barge pole
When one calls director Dibakar Banerjee for a quote and he says, "I'm in the middle of shooting an item song," one is suitably stumped. Isn't that a line expected from the David Dhawans and Vipul Shahs of the industry? Apparently not.
The filmmakers, popularly known as the indie brigade, who are expected to give us path breaking cinema, seem no longer independent of success formulae of commercial cinema. Examples are plenty. Nishikant Kamat resorts to directing a hard core commercial action flick like Force. Dibakar Banerjee spends over a Crore on an item number which is actually goes, 'Imported kamariya'.
Anurag Kashyap, goes all out and adopts the aggressive marketing techniques of the commercial film makers. The bottom line is this. Either the line between commercial cinema and 'meaningful' cinema is thinning, or these filmmakers are in a hurry to deliver a huge hit and make pot loads of money.
Craving for an audience
Says Nishikant, "I can't forever go on making films like Dombivali Fast or Mumbai Meri Jaan. I want more people to watch my films. Whatever said and done, a film like Force will help me bring in that crowd. It's got all the entertaining elements, songs, fight sequences and an interesting plot.
A still from Force
And who wouldn't mind making some money in the process?" So the style stays, but adding a latka jhatka or two to the story has additional advantages. Dibakar Banerjee says, "I am shooting two versions of the item song, one as a stand-alone song and one for the film. But that's what will get me a larger audience. When I make an LSD for just about two crores, I know it will make money. But when I make a much more expensive film, I need to incorporate elements to make it more saleable."
So filmmakers who made small, sensible cinema are now looking to climb up the ladder in terms 'entertainment value' their work offers. Reason? Now that they are popular, big studios are ready to pump in money in their films and they have to do justice to the amount invested. Each of these directors are now dealing with big monies, twice or even thrice of the kind of money invested in their debut ventures.
Abhay Deol, Dibakar Banerjee and Emraan Hashmi
Anurag Kashyap who started off with Black Friday that was made within a couple of Crores is now busy with Gangs of Wasseypur. This film, which will not only release in two parts, but also boast of a budget not less than R 25 Crores, plus marketing costs. So it's of little surprise if the filmmaker goes overboard with promotions or resorts to other ways to get the attention of a film goer.
Anurag Kashyap says, "I feel liberated with a big studio backing me. If they allow me to do what I want to, I will also have to justify their investment in me. And it's my responsibility to promote it." Says Siddharth Roy Kapoor of UTV, "Today the average price at a multiplex is so high, that even a small film is capable of making money if it is aggressively marketed.
The returns might not be as big as an outright commercial like Dabangg, but there is good potential." Agrees Bejoy Nambiar whose Shaitan did not make as much profit as expected, "We are still trying to find our bearings as independent filmmakers. So if there is a particular thing that works for us in terms of publicity, despite our original idea, why not go for it?"
Staying true to style?
So after the disaster that was Saat Khoon Maaf, it's little surprise that Vishal Bharadwaj has gone all out to announce a typical Bollywood romance. They are clearly not looking at pleasing the critics, but targetting the audience. Adds Dibakar, "The item song was a part of the script from the initial stages of scripting. The song is about the Indian obsession with white skin and it is related to the subject of the film."
Kashyap concludes, "We need money to make a film which has to generate money so that we can make our next film. Nishi did Force because he wanted to make a good action film. Dibakar has had a great sense of music and I believe the item song would have a proper place in the film."