Hindi movies go against the formula and fail
Akshay Kumar (right) and Manushi Chhillar pose during the trailer launch of their film ‘Prithviraj’ in Mumbai on Monday. AFP
The topic under discussion in recent weeks has been the rise of South Indian dubbed, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and to some extent Malayalam films in the Hindi belt, where many films from the south have started to attract huge crowds, and end up doing business in the hundreds of crores.
Something only a Hindi movie with a big star cast could do! Unfortunately, this happens due to the vacuum created by Hindi films, which are meant to cater to this market. This is so for various reasons.
The Hindi film industry was doing well, making the kind of movies viewers loved. The stars continued to deliver based on their stills and that’s how the filmmakers cast them and that’s how the viewers loved them. But, from time to time, every star preferred to step out of the mold and try something new.
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The action, as such, mostly came at the end of the film when it was warranted and the viewer wanted the villain to get his due. Watching a movie was a family affair, and a movie needed a bit of romance, comic relief, family drama, and dance sequences to make it a wholesome performer. All this, keeping in mind values, traditions, culture, religious customs and morals. Then there was the music, the soul of any film, as it was of the Indian way of life. The music, which gave the film its identity and largely contributed to its success, was the first to be compromised by the directors. And so the downfall of Hindi movies began.
Gone are those sessions involving the creator, composer, lyricist, and writer, followed by sessions to tune a song for creator approval. Gone are those huge recording studios hosting hundreds of musicians during a song recording, playing live while a song was sung by a Lata Mangeshkar, Mohd Rafi, Kishore Kumar or another singer. The studio has been reduced to a car garage and a machine has replaced the musicians!
The way music is made and marketed has changed for the worse. The music company collects a bank of recorded songs and decides which slots in a movie to place a song from their bank! The singer doesn’t matter, nor do the lyrics of a song. If a song suits the situation, great. Otherwise, it is called an “element song”. There are no composers by whose name the music for a film would attract crowds.
Movies gave us songs for every occasion and festival be it wedding, party, puja, birthday, Diwali, Christmas, Eid. Our alliances survive on these old songs. In fact, all of our music-based TV shows thrive on this collection of evergreen classics. Few things have been composed for many years that can be hummed. It is therefore surprising that these songs still collect millions of hits on YouTube!
The next to be compromised was the story/script, the very purpose of a film. A movie had a story that was kept out of the world lest it be stolen by another writer! Story sessions were held in private hotel rooms with only the writer and director aware of the proceedings. Distributors often bought a film only in the name of the author of the film.
A film’s story is something that needs more than one person to get the idea off the ground. So sensible producers worked with teams of writers. The story idea could be one, but it paid off to have a team develop it into a screenplay. Most great filmmakers usually had a team. BR Chopra’s banner, for example, never credited a single writer. Banner Movies has always credited the story to its screenplay department. The trick was to develop an idea, the one-liner as it was called, into a script. For example, Manoj Kumar’s musical hit, “Shor”, had a one-line idea: the father wants to hear his mute son sing, but by the time the son is cured and can finally sing, the father has gone deaf. Such a banal idea, today’s manufacturer would think. But what a great movie “Shor” turned out to be.
Indo-Asian Information Service