Koimoi.com Editor Komal Nahta on what has changed, and not, in Bollywood:
A lot has changed in Bollywood in the last decade or two.
There used to be as many distributors for a film as there were territories, sometimes even more, when sub-circuit rights were sold to sub-distributors. Today, there is often just one distributor for all-India or all world too!
Films used to be made at budgets ranging from Rs. 1 crore to Rs. 15 crore. Today, the budgets range anywhere between Rs. 3 crore and Rs. 135 crore.
Hit films used to celebrate silver and golden jubilees. Now they run for 25 and 50 days if they are hits.
Films used to be released with 200 to 300 prints. Today, they open simultaneously in 2,000 to 3,000 screens – and more!
Cash To Cheque
Stars used to charge 25-50% of their remunerations in cash. They now often take all payments by cheque.
If a film worked in the small centres and among masses, it was a point for celebration. Class-appealing films were frowned upon. But today, class-appealing films are often referred to as multiplex films. And if your film works in the multiplexes, you are supposed to celebrate. For, cities are where the maximum business is.
Cinema For The Rich & Famous
The rich and famous avoided going to the cinemas. But now, the rich, richer and the richest and the famous, more famous and the most famous go to multiplexes.
Everybody Wants Bollywood
The film industry was looked down upon. If anyone wanted to enter the industry, he, more often than not, did it without fanfare and, probably, surreptitiously. There were very few who wanted to be associated with this industry which was considered badnaam. But today, naam, izzat and shohrat come from being a part of Bollywood, which is why everybody and his/her brother, sister, aunt, uncle, nephew, niece, friend, friend’s brother/sister, distant relative wants to enter the film industry.
To watch a hit movie, one had to stand in a queue at the cinema, for tickets. But today, you can book the tickets for a super-hit movie on the Internet.
Samosas To Nachos
For Rs. 100, an entire family could watch a film and also feast on popcorn and samosas in the intermission. Today, even Rs. 1,000 is not enough. You never wanted to skip popcorn and samosas in the interval. But today, you often sacrifice the popcorn and the samosa for the more tempting nachos, pastries, chaat and what have you!
You saw the number of reels in the censor certificate and heaved a sigh of relief, which was directly proportionate to the number of reels. More the reels, bigger the sigh. It’s the opposite today. Shorter the film, happier you are.
You had to wait for the film to get over before you spoke your heart out about it. If it was bad, you warned your family, close friends and colleagues at work to stay away from it. Today, you can post your comment on Facebook, Twitter and the like even before the first show is complete – via your mobile phone right from your seat in the cinema!
Promoting On TV, Road…
Film promotion meant giving interviews to the print and electronic media. Today, it entails appearing on reality and talent shows on television, doing road shows and city tours, and bragging about the business (after a film’s release) by doling out or announcing gross collection figures – and usually passing those collections as distributors’ shares!
Sequel Before The Movie
To give the impression, before release, that his film was very good, a producer used to often announce, through trade papers, that his next would be directed by the same director and would star the same hero as of the film due for release. This was supposed to be proof of his faith in the director and hero. Of course, after the film’s release, the announcement remained just that. Today, rarely does a producer use this ploy to impress anyone. To inspire the audience’s – and trade’s – confidence in a film, producers use the ploy of announcing the sequel of a film before it (the film) is released. Of course, if he is Ram Gopal Varma, he doesn’t just announce but makes the sequel even before the original film is released. The rest coolly forget about the sequel after the film is released. Trailers went separately to cinemas. Today, trailers of a film are often part of a film releasing some weeks earlier. That is to say, a film’s trailer is attached to the prints of a film releasing earlier.
The number of songs in a film has definitely reduced. As against eight, 10 or even 12 and 15 songs in a film, we now have two, three, four or five songs, generally speaking.
Even our dialogues and lyrics have undergone a sea change. Dialogues used to be spoken in chaste Hindi or Urdu, and English words were restricted to “Thank you”, “Mention not”, “Sorry” and the like. But today, English words and sentences are used liberally. Ditto in the case of lyrics. No song seems to be complete without English lines or, at least, some English words thrown in.
But a lot has still not changed in Bollywood. It is still the same – as it used to be a decade or two ago or even more than that.
Star & Music
You still decide whether you want to see a film or not, based on its star cast and music.
Value For Money
You still want value for your ticket money to like a film.
Claptraps & Whistles
You still clap and whistle in a cinema to applaud a good scene in a film, you still laugh at good jokes and cry in an emotional scene in the film. You still boo or mock at a bad scene.
No Screening For Distributors
Distributors even today play blind. They are not shown films or even scenes from films they set out to acquire distribution rights of.
Initial = Report
Exhibitors still dole out reports of new films based on the opening show or opening day’s collections. If the initial is good, the report is good; if opening day collections are bad, the report, according to them, is bad. That is how Rascals, according to many exhibitors, was an earning proposal on the Friday it was released. That it proved to be a flop, flummoxed them. They are still clueless about how a film that starts off well can fail and, likewise, how a film that starts slow can go on to do well. Even today, initial = report, for such exhibitors.
Stars & Content
Even today, it is easier to get finance for a bad content film if there are stars associated with it than for a good-content film not backed by stars.
As in yesteryear, so also today, the producer, director and stars of a film are the last to know that their film has flopped.
Even today, every filmmaker, every producer, every actor claims that his film is “different”, “hatt ke” – and yet, so many films look like so many other films.
We still love stories in which good triumphs over evil. And since we love films with such themes, we support that cinema only.
Who Hires Whom?
Producers still employ stars but remain subservient to them.
Everyone Has An Opinion
Like always, everybody, even today, has an opinion on films – and he or she thinks, his/her opinion is the most correct.
Producers, directors, stars even today insist that their friends should give them the frankest opinion after watching their film in previews, but yet, don’t like it when the “frankest opinion” is not complimentary of the film.
Mummy Never Changes
Screen mothers still make gaajar ka halwa “apne haathon se” for their sons.