BY VINOD MIRANI
There is an influx of new talent. But, there was a phase not long ago when every big named corporate house backed only Page 3 makers who had rapport with stars. The corporate houses bankrolled projects, not content, blindly. So, okay, if you had made a name even as a choreographer or belonged to a family with antecedents or were in anyway close to a star, you were set for multi-crore projects from a corporate house.
These corporate houses had all the money and no idea of filmmaking. They enrolled marketing graduates. And, filmmaking and marketing were not like selling soap or a biscuit brand. These corporate houses backed names, not scripts or content.
So, if had contacts, you get a two or three-film contract and a budget of, say, 100 crore. If you are Farah Khan you get crores to make a heist film, in mofussil areas which don’t even cost much in the making. If your company is owned by, say, a star like Ajay Devgn, you get 100 crore to make three films. Nobody knew nor cared that the content is what sells. There were ample such examples.
Some of those who were not really filmmakers made money, and the corporate houses which bankrolled such projects were bound to suffer. Most of them have vanished save for the odd one. Even those who still operate have withdrawn from financing Hindi films. They had gotten into something they knew nothing about!
Since these corporates backed only names and superstars, new talent was ignored. They wanted a Khan or a Hrithik, no less! Soon, the negative returns started. First the so called makers let them down and, resultantly, the stars.
It has been a long time since these stars delivered a hit. The stakes were big and the returns poor. One can use the paid media to make a film look like a hit. But, a company’s balance sheet does not write what the paid media writes. So, the corporate houses have withdrawn but, in the process, spoilt the budgeting system of filmmaking in general by throwing monies left right and centre thoughtlessly.
The thing is that, even the non-corporate production houses like Sajid Nadiadwala, BR Films, Karan Johar and T Series et al felt more secure with superstars. But, soon they realized that it was time to balance their act. All such big banners took to promoting new talent and making small or mid-range films. One of the reasons for these makers to divert to new talent was that the superstars had all become producers of their own films or were promoting relatives, and the corporate houses were the suckers who were willing to back a superstar. It did not matter who the maker was!
Karan Johar gave break to three new faces, Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt and Sidharth Malhotra. Sajid Nadiadwala gave break to Tiger Shroff, and it worked. Yash Raj Films gave break to Ranveer Singh, followed by many others. In fact, these banners created a talent bank of their own. Most of the actors launched by these non-corporate ownership production houses are today thriving because of this new breed.
Here is a look at the successful films delivered by the new breed of actors as compared to superstars like Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan and Salman Khan. While the score for Shah Rukh and Salman is rather depressing with their last few films, Aamir films come after long intervals. He gave his last hit in “Dangal” three years back. Aamir is the only one who may still continue to enjoy success.
However, the theatres need a regular flow all 52 weeks a year to feed their multiple screens. The superstars of their time could deliver less than half a dozen films a year. Against this, the big production houses wanted to work with only the established superstars. They loved high stakes since it was not a personal risk, they were bankrolled by corporate moneybags.
The artistes too realized that they did not need a producer and that the big daddies of film finance were banking on them, mainly. The producer was a middleman just because he had access to the star. The stars decided to make their own films. Turn self, brother, brother-in-law, wife or other near ones the producer.
When the big banners realized they needed a secondary line-up of production, some of them launched parallel banners. UTV Spot Boy for example, Balaji’s ALT Entertainment and so on. Now, spot boy used to be the lowest rung or help in a film production sets. His job was to serve tea and run errands! Was making films with other actors and not the superstars so embarrassing?
Since the Khans have failed to deliver, you see a sudden outburst of talent which was around but dormant for some time. A 100-crore grosser is basically a media myth hyped thanks to PR-fed reporters.
What is a 100 crore film when the budget of a superstar film is more than that and when a 100 crore only means, say, a 45-crore take-home for the maker? The cinema chains don’t run films for free and 100 crore includes their share plus distribution expenses.
Now, the concept of 100 crore has a totally different dimension altogether. If one considers the kind of films and the actors who carried them in last couple or three years, not surprisingly, the talent and scripts have scored, not the stars.
Not only the new stars, but also some of the other stars who were considered second-rung by the major filmmakers — Akshay Kumar, Hrithik Roshan, John Abraham, Ranbir Kapoor and Shahid Kapoor — have now come into their own. While John has had three notable hits in “Parmanu: The Story Of Pokhran”, “Satyamev Jayate” and “Batla House”, Shahid Kapoor delivered his career best “Kabir Singh”. Hrithik got a hit after a long gap with “Super 30”. Ranbir got his much needed hit, “Sanju”, while also being lauded for his performance in the film. Ranveer Singh, who has been lucky to work mostly with established banners and successful directors, retained his position with “Padmaavat” and “Gully Boy”. Ajay Devgn continues to hold his own with “De De Pyaar De”.
The biggest gainer over the last two to three years is Akshay Kumar. During the current and the last year, he has to his credit as many as four hits – “Pad Man”, “Golda, “Mission Mangal” and “Kesari”. That’s a 100 per cent success ratio.
The filmmaker not having big stars and big budgets to count on have started working on new themes and interesting scripts. This has opened up opportunities for fresh talent, resulting in a line-up box office successes. Between them, Ayushmann Khurrana, Vicky Kaushal, Tiger Shroff, Sushant Singh Rajput, Kartik Aaryan, Rajkummar Rao etc are delivering hits on regular basis. Not to forger the female stars, Alia Bhatt, Kriti Sanon, Shraddha Kapoor, Yami Gautam, Bhumi Pednekar etc. They account for almost half of the successful films of the past two years. And, what is more, this lot has been able to establish connect with the young moviegoer.
These new stars have made the old adage ‘paisa vasool film’ relevant again.
@The Box Office
* This week sees the release of “Prassthanam”, “The Zoya Factor” and “Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas”. Surprising that producers like Sanjay Dutt and Sunny Deol should decide to release their films in what is considered the dullest period of the year. Traditionally, the Shradh period was considered inauspicious for new films to release. But, even if the producers concerned don’t believe in tradition, but a lot of the viewers do, and movie going is not on their agenda.
* Besides, the festival of Navratri is just one week away. The festival is celebrated and rituals followed during these nine days like fasting etc. Also, the performance of Ram Leela rates high on viewer’s list.
* Not surprisingly, the three films have met with a very weak reception on the opening day.
* “Dream Girl” is a hit. The film has collected a solid Rs 70 crore in its opening week.
* “Section 375” remained poor, managing to collect just about Rs 9 crore in its first week.
* “Chhichhore” has complemented its excellent first week collection of Rs 66 crore with an impressive second week figures of Rs 39 crore.
(Vinod Mirani is a veteran film writer and box office analyst. The views expressed are personal)