Ronnie Screwvala backs new directors to improve quality of films
Reports of Ronnie Screwvala turning his attention to entertainment again by launching an array of debutante directors raised many eyebrows
Given that news about him venturing into alternate fields - including tech education, health and sports - garnered interest over the past few years, reports of Ronnie Screwvala turning his attention to entertainment again by launching an array of debutante directors raised many eyebrows. Speculation around the reason behind his decision to back new talent was quick to be made. But the entrepreneur dismisses suggestions by reflecting on his own journey in Bollywood. "I'm backing new artistes because, for most part of my journey, I felt like an outsider in Bollywood," he says alluding to the opportunities he can give those who find themselves in his place.
A still from Love Per Square Foot
Screwvala isn't a harsh critic of the quality of content being churned out by industry bigwigs. His desire to support debutante filmmakers has little to do with such assumed apathy, he says. "Of course, we're trying to encourage better storylines, but that doesn't mean I am not working with the big players in the industry. The new league of directors has simply come to me with great stories. So, why would I not support them," he questions.
The first venture from this assortment, Anand Tiwari's romance-comedy, Love Per Square Foot, is gearing up for a Netflix release later this month. Attribute it to Tiwari's vast experience in the industry, or the skills he displayed as director on the set, but Screwvala makes his trust in him evident. Directors, suggests the producer, can decide the fate of a film with their prowess. "When Anurag [Basu] came to me with the script of Barfi!, he gave me a 15 minute narration. That's it! I asked him about it, and he said, 'Well, that's all I have because the actor can't speak.' But, he made the film [as successful as it is] due to his vision and visual storytelling ability."
He doesn't negate the fact that there is scope for improvement in the scripts being greenlit by filmmakers, but is quick to add that it is a "work in progress". "We're getting there," he shrugs. For now, Screwvala celebrates the fact that the depleting obsession with stars is becoming increasingly evident. The biggest testimony of this trend, he says, is the recognition received by unconventional actors at a recently concluded awards gala. "[This show] usually harboured a love for stars, but it celebrated works by artistes like Rajkummar Rao, Konkona Sensharma and Irrfan Khan this year." While films featuring A-listers receive attention, they form only a small part of the work being done in Bollywood, he says. "Such films [featuring stars] comprise only 20 per cent of the releases. There's another 80 per cent, which is also being consumed in abundance by viewers."
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