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When multiple filmmakers came together for one Bollywood film

Filmmakers may continue to piece together anthology films, but past instances show that they haven’t really clicked with the audience 

A handful of directors and a common interweaving subject equals one feature film. Several filmmakers have experimented with innovative ideas to make short films and they have stitched them together to present it as a complete film in a bid to provide something different to the audience.

In 2013, Rani Mukerji played the role of a journalist in a short film,  Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Yeh, which was part of the anthology film, 'Bombay Talkies'
In 2013, Rani Mukerji played the role of a journalist in a short film,  Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Yeh, which was part of the anthology film, 'Bombay Talkies'

It may be a novel experiment, but for an audience used to a linear narrative, it does not exactly spell big success at the box office.

Producer Sunil Bohra’s recent announcement that he will bring together seven directors to make films on the seven Biblical sins is the latest instance in a list of anthology films. Bohra will have directors like Anurag Kashyap, Hansal Mehta, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Vasan Bala and Sudhir Mishra weave stories around the seven deadly sins — lust, wrath, envy, gluttony, greed, sloth and pride.

Zoya Akhtar’s short film in 'Bombay Talkies' (2013) revolves around a 12-year-old school boy who is a Katrina Kaif fan
Zoya Akhtar’s short film in 'Bombay Talkies' (2013) revolves around a 12-year-old school boy who is a Katrina Kaif fan

Tight budget
To commemorate 100 years year of Indian cinema last year, Ashi Dua produced Bombay Talkies, which consisted of four short films, directed by Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar and Karan Johar. It was also screened at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. Though it received favourable reviews, it did average business at the box office despite the well-known directors and a star cast, which included names like Rani Mukerji, Randeep Hooda, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Katrina Kaif.

Arjun Rampal starred in 'Darna Zaroori Hai' (2006)
Arjun Rampal starred in 'Darna Zaroori Hai' (2006)

Says Ashi, “I made this film especially to mark the 100th year of Indian cinema. It was a brave effort to bring together four directors with different sensibilities. We made it on a tight budget because we knew that it would not fetch a lavish return like other films. That is why we did not go in for a big budget even though there were established names attached to the project.”

Dino Morea and Tarina Patel in Apoorva Lakhia’s Sex on The Beach, one of the stories in 'Dus Kahaniyaan' (2007)
Dino Morea and Tarina Patel in Apoorva Lakhia’s Sex on The Beach, one of the stories in 'Dus Kahaniyaan' (2007)

Would she do a similar
experiment again? The young producer says, “At the moment I can’t say anything, but I would think of a Bombay Talkies 2, if I had a good reason and a decent plot to do so. But there are no such plans on the anvil.”

Trade analyst Taran Adarsh opines, “In the past, the box office has not been too kind to such films, irrespective of who has helmed it.”

Ashi Dua

Adarsh, however, feels that the audience’s mindset will change, although it will take time to do so. He says, “Commerce is important, but such experiments are gradually changing the mindset of the people. They are getting to see works of different filmmakers in one project. It also gives the director a chance to push the envelope further as a storyteller. Like what Karan Johar did in Bombay Talkies was far from the commercial fare he is well-known for.”

Earlier instances
In 2007, Sanjay Gupta produced Dus Kahaniyaan that had 10 short films telling 10 different stories. It was directed by six filmmakers, including Sanjay Gupta, Apoorva Lakhia, Meghna Gulzar and Rohit Roy.

In 2006, Ram Gopal Varma made Darna Zaroori Hai. The film stringed together horror stories and had Amitabh Bachchan, Riteish Deshmukh, Anil Kapoor, Suniel Shetty, Mallika Sherawat, Bipasha Basu in the cast. These stories were directed by RGV, Manish Gupta, Prawal Raman, Sajid Khan, Jijy Philip and Vivek Shah.

Back in 2003, the film, Darna Mana Hai, was considered a unique attempt by RGV and director Prawal Raman; it featured six short stories – all of them belonging to the horror genre. The cast included Saif Ali Khan, Vivek Oberoi, Sameera Reddy, Nana Patekar, Isha Koppikar and Sohail Khan, among others. The film was an average grosser at the box office.

Same same

A decade ago, adfilmmaker Rajnish Lall (who produced the Vir Das-Kirti Kulhari starrer, Sooper Se Ooper, last year) planned to make seven short films based on the seven deadly sins and weave them together to form one complete feature film.

It was very similar to the film Sunil Bohra plans to produce now with seven directors (including Anurag Kashyap, and Hansal Mehta among others). Lall had pencilled in ad filmmakers such as Prasoon Pandey, Abhinay Deo, Ram Madhvani, the late Shamin Desai, Ravi Udyawar, Abhijit Chaudhari and Prakash Verma to make short films with each dealing with one sin.

Ad filmmaker-producer Rajnish Lall had announced a film on the seven deadly sins in 2004
Ad filmmaker-producer Rajnish Lall had announced a film on the seven deadly sins in 2004

Says Lall, “However innovative it may sound today, this was the same film that we planned to put together a decade ago. The innovative project was written about extensively at that time, but unfortunately due to production issues, this project did not take off. Each of the filmmakers had had their scripts ready and we had also approached actors.”

In the West
>>The Decalogue, a 1989 Polish television drama series, directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski, featured 10 one-hour films, each inspired by one of the Ten Commandments. Each film explored a moral issue faced by characters living in modern Poland. The Decalogue was well-received by critics and was hailed by celebrated Hollywood filmmaker, Stanley Kubrick.

Jessica Alba and Paul Rudd star in 'The Ten' (2007)
Jessica Alba and Paul Rudd star in 'The Ten' (2007)

>>The Ten is a 2007 Hollywood film directed by David Wain. This too had 10 stories with each inspired by one of the Ten Commandments. The cast included Jessica Alba, Winona Ryder and Paul Rudd, among others.

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