“Statistics are like a bikini. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” – Aaron Levenstein.
The box-office report of Raavan and Housefull is out there for everyone to see and infer what they want to. And when I say Raavan, I actually am talking about movies like Dil Se, Gulaal, Firaaq, Parzania etc; and when I say Housefull, I actually am referring to movies like Welcome, SiK, Kambakht Ishq etc. Obviously, these are movies of different genres but the one thing common is that, they were all on exhibition in theatres, multiplexes etc and we know the fate of all of these movies.
So, what lessons do we learn from the BO reports. I don’t know because I am neither a critic nor a movie maker or a trade analyst; just an avid movie watcher. And here are some of the things that I have come to realise, over a period of time.
Story & Screenplay Why bother writing about problems of people in the relief camps of riot affected victims or the inspector trying to track down the goons involved in Bombay bomb blast or a radio-journalist trying to interview an ULFA terrorist or the caste/class divide in red-alert zones of Jharkhand and Chhatisgarh? We don’t want to see such non-existing issues which are hyped by media. We want to see what issues a common man faces. We want to see how a bartender in London handles the visit of his father-in-law, we want to see how a ‘panauti’ copes with life and wife, we want to see whether Uday Shetty is able to find a suitor for his sister, an intelligence agent walking around with a lie-detector and how a bumbling sikh becomes King of Australian mafia. These are the real issues we are plagued with.
Characterisation This is one area where Mani, Anurag and others really need to work upon. I mean, why take pains in writing the character graph of Dukey Baana when people are happy with Aarush; why write Meghna and Preeti when people actually want bimbos like Deepika Padukone and Lara Dutta, why sketch Amar Mathur and Beera when Riteish Deshmukh is able to make people laugh at his stupid antics? Who is watching the growth and maturity of a character! People are busy sniggering at the immaturity of the 3 hunks with a baby, and the reverse growth of stars like Akshay Kumar. And then, someone like Anurag comes along to give us Rananjay SIngh. What! Is that a real name? What happened to the Raj’s and Rahul’s and Gupta’s and Malhotra’s. Give the characters a real name, please!
Locations & Cinematography Why does someone like Mani Ratnam go to all these beautiful locales in North-East (Dil Se) or the Malshej Ghat and Athirapalli Falls (Raavan)? Why did Anurag Kashyap make a movie in backdrop of Rajasthan in Gulaal? To bring a level of authenticity to the story-telling! But who needs that? People are happy watching an entire cast camped and cramped in a rented mansion (Housefull, SiK, Welcome). So, what if the mansion only has a few rooms, a big dining hall, a grate, huge portraits of prententious people and some make-believe classic paintings. We want to see that, nothing else. Please don’t show us serene environments, breath-taking views and sceneries of visual pleasure. We neither want authenticity nor aesthetics. We are not concerned about how scenes are shot because we are not here to appreciate beauty and splendor.
Music & Lyrics Someone really ought to stop Gulzar from penning songs. What were the lyrics of Satrangi Re, Ranjha Ranjha and Thok De Killi? We don’t want songs that make sense, force us to think, create visual imageries. And Piyush Mishra be damned with the Ranaji song and his stupid take on Ye Duniya Agar Mil Bhi Jaye To Kya Hai. See, that’s exactly what everyone these days are telling, ye duniya agar mil bhi jaye to kya hai! So, please stop penning such outdated songs and give space to the new breed lyricists who say ‘O Girl You Are Mine’ and ‘Hush Hush Hush, Papa Sleeping’. See, now these sound like some real song and are so convenient to sms our friends. And what was Rahman trying to prove with his tunes in Dil Se and Raavan and many others; that he is Mozart From Madras! Has he not heard of Pritam and his ilk who struggle day and night to create original tunes which leave a lasting impression! With whom is Rahman, Vishal and others competing? Take a break dude! We want songs like Bhootni Ke, Bebo Mai Bebo and not something silly like Behne De, Dil To Bachcha hai Ji and Aarambh Hai Prachand!
Direction This definitely is the most over-rated job. I mean, any Tom Dick and forget it, can become a director. We have had action directors and stuntmen become directors, choreographers turned into directors, photographers and ad-film makers took to direction; and sometimes we have had entire movie being ghost-directed. So, who the hell needs the sophistication of Mani Ratnam or the detailing of Anurag Kashyap or the perfection of a Bhansali or the hardwork of Ashutosh Gowariker, please call on a spot boy to take the next shot.
Production/Finance This has to be the toughest job of all. I mean, if you approach Nadiadwala with script of Swades or Gulaal, then he will need so much time to mull over it because the movies are so unchallenging and silly. And what about all the criticism he will have to face for a good product. Its so much easier to produce a ‘Housefull’ where you have your friends and relatives on the sets having a party; my God, its such a stress-buster. No wonder SRK was so relieved when he produced OSO & MHN but was so tensed about Chak De and Swades because he was not producing such tacky works.
Actor/Actresses The last piece in the jigsaw, did I say last! They ought to be the last, but they are often the first ones to be onboarded in a project. Everything else revolves around them. With my limited knowledge, I assumed that a bound script, location finalisation, camera angles are decided first; and then actors/actresses come into picture. But no, actors make the movie their personal statement; often changing lines and locations to suit their needs. After all, its so difficult to extract good performances from Nandita Das and Seema Biswas; but its so much easier to cast Deepika Padukone and Katrina Kaif. Oh! please don’t wonder and let me explain. Whatever be the movie, the set, the location; they are consistently bad. They can give you the same expression in the bedroom/bathroom/drawing-room with such perfection, 100% strike rate. They don’t even have to get into the skin of the character, they are the character. Imagine how difficult it would be if actors got so intense that they cannot get the character out of their head. Its so much easier to cast Tushar Kapoor and Fardeen Khan who can walk in and out of characters as if they were changing clothes.
Coming back to the quote on statistics, what it reveals is the changing taste buds of the audience and what it conceals is a dangerous trend of dumbing down the audience as they lap up bad movies without blinking.
A Question To The Movie Critics And Reviewers I know you guys did not approve of Kambakht Ishq and Housefull and gave it 2 or 2.5*, maybe more. But, didn’t Dil Se and Raavan also get the same stars? So, don’t you see any difference between Raavan and Housefull! Was Raavan all that bad or was Housefull all that good? I am actually amazed that all the great performances in Housefull was neglected, all the fantastic music and lyrics went unobserved, all the pains taken by the film crew to shoot in such difficult location of the various bedrooms of the mansion was ignored. And in Raavan, we promptly noticed camera slip-ups, shoddy performances and the carelessness with which certain scenes were shot. I mean, how can you compare an auditorium filled with intellectual dignitaries rolling with the effect of laughing gas and a silly shot where Ash is just falling down a waterfall, clinging onto a branch and then slipping again; how tacky! Shouldn’t both movies have been reviewed without prejudice and bias, based on their individual merits and using the same yardstick. Then how did both these movies get the same kind of rating?
A Question To The Movie Go-ers Do we watch a movie to have a good time and nothing else? Even if we are looking at entertainment, was Housefull all that entertaining and Dil Se all that dull and boring. Did the movie Welcome make more sense than Gulaal? Why don’t we watch movies which go beyond the obvious, which makes a point and brings an issue to light. Or are we merely looking for cheap humor and titillation, hollow entertainment and slipshod quick movies.
And Finally Why should someone make a Raavan and be lambasted when he can easily make a Housefull and get away?
This post was first published on PFC