Watch a Govinda – Karishma Kapoor movie of the nineties and compare it to one of the movies of today, maybe Bheja Fry, and note the difference. You will see how Bollywood has truly witnessed a transformation in the past decade. From the method of storytelling to the variety in concepts to the technology involved, it is a revolution that we are talking of.
The entire style and method of telling a story has changed. And this change has happened at various levels. But first the reason – the emergence of multiplexes and thereby, the multiplex audience has given a boost to script writers to innovate with refreshing, new ideas, concepts and genres. Even the variety of movies offered has expanded dramatically. The genre of a movie is no longer restricted to Romance or Horror; you don’t hear of terms such as ‘Art Movies’ or ‘Parallel Cinema’ anymore. In fact, the socially relevant movies have been well integrated with mainstream cinema primarily because of the script being given paramount importance. If David Dhawan even dreamt of making a Hero No. 1 or a Biwi No. 1 or any other such flick in 2008, the movies would be anything but number one! Today, you have films like Bheja Fry, Dor, Parzania, Black Friday, Ek Chaalis Ki Last Local, Mitthya by directors such like Onir, Rajat Kapoor, Sagar Bellary, Nagesh Kukunoor, Anurag Kashyap which do well at the Box Office, because these directors have been able to reach out to the target audience and hence, carve a niche for themselves. The presence of a superstar does not guarantee a hit, nor does the look or style of the film, or for that matter, the production house. All this is well reflected in the recent debacle called Aaja Nach le, more popularly known as Madhuri Dikshit’s comeback vehicle – which was not that popular after all; it was a flop!
This trend of change in storytelling has also led to a breed of actors who refuse to sign up for a movie until they have read a full bound script.
A movie with big stars, some random difficult-to-mouth dialogues, interspaced by some seven or eight songs in picturesque locations of the world was the perfect formula for a runaway hit a decade ago. But that is not the case anymore. A viewer would probably frown at having to sit through a song in the middle of the story. But songs are an important part of Indian movies, and perhaps it is their presence which sets the Indian movies apart from their Hollywood counterparts. Keeping this in mind, the songs have not been done away with totally. They have, instead, been integrated in a better manner with the theme and script, and like in many movies, have been used in the background. Item Numbers are another major change in movies, and have been used especially well for movies with debutantes. The item numbers also work as a good promotional tool.
Brevity is the soul of a creation and the film industry seems to have woken to this fact. The length of movies has reduced by around twenty per cent on an average, which makes movies more interesting not only for the Indian audiences, but the International ones as well.
Now would you think I am weird if I said ‘Television’ is one way Bollywood has changed over the past decade?
Well, ever since the TV Industry has witnessed a revolution in 2000, the film industry has benefited too. One of the biggest reasons for the TV Revolution (let us call it that) was Kaun Banega Crorepati hosted by Amitabh Bachchan. The show was a great success, and every other channel on TV wanted to capitalize on the popularity of the stars. Since then, reality shows are being churned out in huge numbers. This has worked to the advantage of the film industry in two ways. One, out-of-work or needing-a-comeback or looking-for-a-break actors have found a place for themselves either as hosts or judges, which is a brilliant way of marketing themselves. Two, it also works as a great way of marketing movies, and so what if you are not hosting a show or judging it – you can always get onto one when you need to promote a movie!
The increased power of the Indian media, too, helps producers market their movies better. Let us take the example of Om Shanti Om. The film relied on the attention of the media, and as a token of gratitude, Mr. Shahrukh Khan published full page advertisements in all leading newspapers when the movie crossed the Rs. 100 crore-mark!
Global Partnerships and Finance:
There was a time when it was rumored that the film industry was literally run by the underworld – this is no longer the case. Corporate bigwigs like Reliance, Tata, UTV, etc have ventured into the industry. Consequently, films are made on a larger scale and actors work with a greater security and filmmaking enjoys more respect and credibility.
Globalization is not restricted to the economy alone as it has also impacted the film industry. Global tie-ups like those of UTV and 20th Century Fox or Yashraj and Walt Disney are indeed signs of Bollywood being on the fast lane. To make this more obvious, we have Sony Motion Pictures investing in apna Bollywood, or better still, Reliance’s BIG Entertainment tying up with eight Hollywood producers to co-finance film projects.
However, there remain many drawbacks which need to be addressed. One of the most prominent of these is the taxes that are inflicted on producers in the form of VAT and Sales Tax, which the industry is fighting against. But the government does not seem to respond to these concerns…
Yet, as of now, Bollywood can be seen to be surging ahead, in terms of its employment opportunities, ideas, fine actors, and the industry’s economic power.
And that is a fact which cannot be denied.