Bollywood is going through an amazing transformation. The old guard is changing or reaching a point of decline. The bombing of ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’, the much hyped SRK biggie is a recent event, which underlines this fact. The ruthless audience is repeatedly telling our stars living in ivory towers of perceived popularity from a decade ago change or die! By death, the meaning implied is box office death.Look at those who are flourishing though and you discover a trend for this decade maybe and the decade next too.
The current Indian wants to be entertained but not at the cost of being taken for granted. So, therefore, if an established superstar tries to push his sorry joke of an actor brother with a ‘Tubelight’ this new Indian audience will deliver the lesson at the box office regardless of how many of the superstar's previous outings were 100 crore plus celluloid games.Let's come back to the trend of this decade. Beginning of 2005 we started having "realisticot to forget movies which had high drama in them like ‘Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai’ and a ‘Rowdy Rathore’.
The heroes in these movies were so big they were almost unreal and yet they were convincing and audiences came in droves to have a look and contribute to their money spinning value.
So, what really has been that defining trend? Like the 1970s was largely the lost and found, unreal but entertaining cinema era of the Manmohan Desai variety. The 1980s saw onesuperstar and everyone else just being a “me too” version of his success. The 1980s also saw some viewers briefly trying to find something different in parallel cinema, which worked more on tax-free sops of the government than box office boost.
The 1990s saw the return of romance, music, and a cinema which had its content focus on largely the NRIs. So, love, patriotism and happy families, who would live in minimum groups of 40 at least became the go to movies for the audience.When you look deeper into all the movies, which have been capturing the attention of the current Indian viewer, NRI or just I, it is what we can now start calling as "Today's Topic" Indian cinema.The current Indian viewer wants cinema, which he can relate to even if it is told to him in a make-believe manner.
Sardar Khan of ‘…Wasseypur’ is an unbelievable hero, he is as larger than life as Rajkumar from Subhash Ghai's ‘Saudagar’, yet his end is on a “thela” - you cannot get any more realistically symbolic than that. Most gang wars in contemporary India result in deaths in such surroundings.Modern India is seeing marriages between men and women who are not exactly of the same age, modern Indian women are at times taking their own sweet time before they settle for someone they like and age is a matter of mind - that current trends of the social thinking reflected in the box office smasher – ‘Cheeni Kum’.
Most Indians live in big Indian cities out of compulsions and unsolvable circumstances not out of choices - that explains why ‘Life In A Metro’ is such a cult film over the years.Builder mafia taking gullible Indians for a ride and there is no real life Sunny Deol of ‘Ghatak’ around to fight the land mafia hence ‘Khosla Ka Ghosla’ won hearts and box office moolah.All of us Indians have suffered terrorism at its most painful and dreadful best, therefore ‘A Wednesday’ came out of nowhere and won our hearts. The trend continues to be milked by its director/producers with further box office smashers like ‘Baby’ and ‘Naam Shabana’.
The point in all of the above is - these are all current topics; they reflect the complexities, challenges, frustrations and hope of a country as diverse and as complicated and yet as strong as India.Therefore, make no mistake our most iconic woman character can be a wrestler in ‘Dangal’ or a pot maker in ‘Dabangg’. She can be a ruthless killing machine in ‘Naam Shabana’ or a confused-going-nowhere-looking-for-her-identity-ladoo-making-docile-wife who thinks learning English will solve her problems in ‘English Vinglish’.We have suffered the corruption of our judiciary and therefore we want a Jolly LLB and that cranky but ‘heart of gold’ judge listening to our case when we get crushed in the judicial process.
That is why the Indian viewer ensured that both Jollys run away with super box office history.We want to see the good chapters of our current contemporary history; therefore an ‘Airlift’ makes us go proud and we shower it with box office supremacy. We also know how after decades of zero medal jokes we started winning in Asian Games and Olympics and that is why when a locked in a room father in ‘Dangal’ rises to the national anthem with moist eyes we too cry with him.
You will see movies which have rehashed songs bombing, you have king directors of the 1990s or 2000s now delivering duds because they have not yet understood the trend. Therefore, a Sooraj Barjatya who still makes marriage videos deliver duds and Subhash Ghais last came and went with nobody noticing.It is because of this trend that a ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ clocks four times its cost of making but a much celebrated ‘Rangoon’ with a stellar star cast and a hugely celebrated director crashed.Some of you might want to put up the case of a few movies, particularly like Bansali's success with the kind of movies, which surely do not qualify for this trend but then in every trend of the decade of Bollywood, there have been warriors who kept hopes alive for other genres.
Rishi Kapoor and Amol Palekar stood remarkably well in the Bachchan era. So, did to a good extent Akshay and Govinda in the Khan dominated era of the 1990s. But we know, who owned the trends then. We know who owns the trend now.We already have three superstars, who have moulded themselves to this new trend and look set for another decade of entertaining us. Amitabh Bachchan has already got into the act with stuff like ‘Piku’ and ‘Cheeni Kum’. Akshay is getting bolder by the day in this genre, which another star would have allowed the toilet to appear in a movie name where he is the solo hero? Aamir with ‘Dangal’ has proved he is already there.
The ‘Today's Topic’ genre of Bollywood is here to stay. The good news is it will add to the depth of our movie making. The bad news is those of us who thought good movie meant the presence of your favourite actor in it will find their favourite actors out of circulation soon. Unless, like the three sharp ones mentioned above, they change their strategy of survival." cinema coming into our lives.
Movies like ‘Maqbool’, ‘Khosla Ka Ghosla’, ‘Cheeni Kum’, ‘Dev-D’ and ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’, came out of nowhere and started capturing us and the box office like nobody's business.For a moment, the makers thought the audiences wanted "real" acting "real" homes "small town cinema" - this last one was particularly reinforced by the success of movies like ‘Dabangg’ and ‘Tanu Weds Manu’. Parallelly movies, which spoke of current issues like women' suffocation and exploitation came winners at box office – ‘The Dirty Picture’, ‘Pink’ and the recent Sridevi superhit ‘Mom’ are some examples. So, we can be rest assured that those who follow formulas will want to make women oriented movies now.