Why are Bollywood filmmakers suddenly turning secretive?
There was a time when one relied on just the media for the latest gossip about stars and their latest projects. But with the widening reach of social media these days, keeping information from leaking out has only become tougher. More often than not, details about films enter the public domain even before they have gone on the floors.
Farah Khan's upcoming film, Happy New Year, starring Shah Rukh Khan, is a well-guarded project. All the information about the movie so far — be it working stills or the film’s poster — has been shared by the director alone. Everyone associated with the film has apparently been asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
No wonder then, paranoia in the industry seems to have hit a new peak. Mere instructions are no longer enough now; filmmakers would rather tackle the problem by taking the legal route. More and more producers are now making the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) mandatory as part of their film contract.
Not only are these NDAs fairly commonplace in the industry, but they are no longer restricted to the film's cast; its crew too is made to sign them. As per the confidentiality clause in the NDA, the cast and crew are not allowed to share or leak any information to an outsider. If found guilty, the cast or crewmember can be sued for damages.
At the right time
A recent instance is Madhur Bhandarkar's upcoming film, Calender Girls, which stars five new names. It turns out that producer Sangeeta Ahir doesn't want to give out any information on these faces and has made the film's cast and crew sign an NDA.
Director Madhur Bhandarkar says, "Sangeeta has asked the cast and crew to sign an NDA because it's very important these days. We want to be very discreet about the project and don't want to give out any information before time.
With things being leaked out on the social media platform, our publicity campaigns are under threat and this is where the NDAs can save us." Producer Bhushan Kumar of T-Series echoes Bhandarkar's sentiment.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who has directed films like Black and Ram-Leela, is known to stay mum and have his team maintain silence on all projects that are underway
"Yes we have NDA agreements with our cast and crew. In today's times, a film's marketing strategy plays a pivotal role in its success. It has become essential to promote and position one's film in the correct manner. Fortunately, our artistes have always been co-operative," he says.
It is being said that Aditya Chopra too made the cast and crew of Rani Mukerji-starrer, Mardaani, sign NDAs. This means that anyone found leaking information would have to serve a penalty. "The rules at Yashraj are so rigid that information is not supposed to be shared with YRF crewmembers who are not a part of that particular project," says a source.
Rajkumar Hirani, with Sanjay Dutt and Aamir Khan on the sets of P.K., a film that has managed to keep most of its details under wraps
Earlier this month, the producers of Big B's show, Yudh had issued a gag order to its cast and crew in order to keep details about the show under wraps. Despite these strict instructions, some artistes reportedly spoke to the media and when Endemol got word about this, the production house apparently told the casting director to fire those artistes.
Similarly, Farah Khan's upcoming film, Happy New Year, is also following a closely guarded approach. Its cast and crew has apparently signed an NDA and no one is allowed to reveal any information about the project.
Dibakar Banerjee's (left) film, Detective Byomkesh Bakshi, that stars Sushant Singh Rajput (right), has also jumped on the NDA bandwagon
There were also rumours that TV actress Ankita Lokhande was Farah's original choice for the film, but once this news leaked out, the filmmaker, who was yet to
sign Ankita on, apparently changed her mind and the latter lost the offer.
It may be pointed out that Dibakar Banerjee's upcoming film, Detective Byomkesh Bakshi, has also jumped on the NDA bandwagon. Meiyang Chang is said to play an important role in the film, which has Sushant Singh Rajput playing the titular role.
Amitabh Bachchan in Anurag Kashyap's forthcoming TV series Yudh
Apart from this, Ekta Kapoor is said to have added a unique clause in her contract with the cast and crew of Ek Thi Daayan, whereby the key character's identity was to be kept a secret. The movie was a suspense thriller and Ekta did not want to any spoilers to slip out before the film's release.
Need of the hour
Director David Dhawan reasons that earlier on, there were no NDAs in the industry. The director, who claims to have never made his crew sign an NDA, however, admits that these days it has become important. "Such an agreement is profitable for the film.
There are big monies involved now as a film's turnover runs into crores. Films usually does business in the first two weeks, so if information about the film gets leaked out before time, it can harms the film's business prospects at the BO," he says.
Filmmaker Sabbir Khan chimes in, "I didn't ask my cast and crew to sign an NDA — Heropanti was a film where every cast and crewmember was emotionally committed to the project. But I know that several incidents have taken place recently where information has been leaked out before time. So yes, I think that NDAs are important now."
Tigmanshu Dhulia, who is currently directing his film Yaara in Mussorie, is also in favour of this practice. "I have not signed an NDA so far, but it is a welcome move ands should be encouraged.
Often, news leaks out way too early even before an actor or actress has signed on the dotted line. This doesn't bode well for the project, so NDAs should be encouraged," he says.