2010 is easily one of the worst years for the Hindi film industry in terms of business. Even as country limped out the west-spread plague called recession the positivity didn’t reflect all that much at the box office. Hugest of films – Raavan, Kites, Guzaarish, Action Replayy, No Problem – flopped miserably. The crisis continued right till the end with films Tees Maar Khan doing very disappointing business.
But then every dark cloud has a silver lining. We were taught that in school and it rarely seemed as this year. In the rough weather arose the scope for some independent cinema made more remarkable low budgets when compared to the money they made! And somewhere there is a beautiful lesson learnt.
The pre-recession time had seen a bunch producers and corporates cropping up with all eagerness to cash in on the newly found multiplex audience. The family audiences and the richer classes were venturing back into the theaters with the dawn of multiplex era. Cooler services, ambience and the option of choosing one film out of many made these people, who had stopped going to the theatres and rather opt for home entertainment, get back to enjoy movies at the big screen. And the cash rich producers were quick to realize this. Subsequently there were a slew of small but intelligent movies made and released to cater to this audience, that was not star struck but searching of quality story and entertainment. Plus many of them were bred on Hollywood features and nothing unintelligent and straight of Bollywood’s mainstream was appealing enough!
However where we got classics like Bheja Fry, A Wednesday, Ek Chaalis Ke Last Local, Dasvidania and Mithya we also saw the eagerness going haywire in judgment and films least worthy of being made getting made!
Till money was in abundance there didn’t seem to be a problem green lighting more such projects. Things changed overnight though when the markets crashed and suddenly people found themselves in position to shut well established offices. While many would say filmmakers was affected universally there were still high-budget films such as Kambakkth Ishq, Blue and Housefull that were made right at the peak of recession. What got stuck are the films that were meant for only the multiplexes. Investors unabashedly decided that it is films which aim to cut across all barriers of audience that needs to be funded rather than niche projects, where returns on money was uncertain. Of course decisions made are quite arguable with big movies such as Kambakkth Ishq, Blue, Chandni Chowk to China, De Dana Dan, London Dreams, Luck falling miserably at the box office.
As mentioned earlier the year continued to see massive failures. But there were smiles too in form of films like Love Sex & Dhokha, Udaan, Tere Bin Laden, Peepli Live and Phas Gaye Re Obama.
While the presence of huge budget films like 3 Idiots, My Name is Khan, Housefull and Robot was felt across the year, the glaring holes were covered by ventures which were hooted as non-commercial by many. Apart from the earlier mentioned names there were films like Striker, Thanks Maa, Hide & Seek, Well Done Abba, The Great Indian Butterfly, City of Gold and Antardwand that kept the flavor going. And most of these movies saw through the tough times of recession when they- like so many others were almost shelved! Well if not shelved, at least they had hell of time finding distributors and exhibitors.
The latest success, As Phas Gaye Re Obama, is one more such instance. A movie well made was forced to a long wait before finally managing to set up a clash with Ashutosh Gowariker’s Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey. The result? Survival of the fittest! And with the failure of Tees Maar Khan and No Entry fit definitely has been established as – a project with good script and the correct budget.
And if filmmaker Rajat Kapoor, a champion at being part of movies made for shoestring budgets, is to be believed the scene is just getting better. Kapoor, who has made films such as Raghu Romeo, Mithya and Mixed Doubles, admits that quite few of these small films were shelved with the recession and others failed to find screens. “But with the recession over, this could just be the start of a new era where people give a chance to films with good scripts and made for smaller budget. 2011 should be a happy year!” he cheers.
With the New Year lot of filmmakers are hoping Kapoor’s future telling skills work for them. Some of these filmmakers include Saeed Mirza, Manish Gupta, Saurabh Shukla and Sudhir Mishra. All we can say is ‘Happy New Year’!
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