“Filmein sirf teen cheezon se chalti hai – Entertainment, Entertainment, Entertainment” – The Dirty Picture.
These days, however, there is yet another aspect which has turned out to be quite central to film watching -relief. The ten-minute break that our brains are allowed during the interval, a pause from the ‘carnival of drivel’ that films have become.
There was a time when movies were an escape, but now there is no escaping the stress movies cause us. We go to malls to watch the next ‘blockbuster’, burning a hole in our pockets, knowing in our heart of hearts that nothing promising can come of this. Movies have become a sure shot way to increase our blood pressure.
When it comes to doing BIG things, Bollywood doesn’t shy away from the task per se. After all, it is the largest film industry in the world with revenues touching nearly $3.2 billion in the last year alone. But while the filmi dhanda can finally be categorised as a legit business, with stellar growth potential; somewhere, the mainstay of filmdom, the famed ‘Entertainment Quotient’ seems to have completely gone for a toss.
Some day in the early 2010s, it seems, Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar might have sat together in a private retreat somewhere in Switzerland (given the amount of money the tourism Industry of the strawberry nation has minted off B-town flicks, providing picturesque backdrops for beautiful actors to romance before), and sketched out a rough plot for the future of the film industry.
Coincidentally, the formula they arrived at was much the same as the Amitabh Bachchan-Manmohan Shetty formula of the 70’s, albeit with a much fatter budget, international stunt directors and token item numbers by talentless hacks; posing as playback singers. These films couldn’t care less about critical acclaim, but were nonetheless major commercial hits because when money piles into one’s bank account, no one cares much about the storyline.
Call me a doe-eyed Bengali, but when my elders spoke of films by auteurs like Satyajit Ray, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Mrinal Sen or Ritwik Ghatak, it didn’t sound as though they were talking about celluloid dreams, rather a mirror of reality. Today’s B-town spectacles though, couldn’t claim the same. If the plotline of Salman Khan’s ‘Wanted’ reflects reality, then by God, it must be one helluva life!
There was a time when movies were made aesthetically, and had good storylines, dedicated actors, less melodrama and a discerning audience. Today’s time stands witness to the budget of the movies, of A-grade actors (whose biceps are as large as the budget of the film), of hoots and applauds in swanky movie theatres, and flagging storylines with cheap item numbers.
This rat race of making and breaking records have led to a serious deterioration of the quality of the films our country produces. The makers are way more concerned about their net profit than what goes into the craft. All we get is hay and barley. So we are? No points for guessing. Cows. Mindless cattle consuming the fodder that flows out from a machine called Bollywood, every Friday or every month of every year.
Bollywood produces commercials projects in bulk, earning a steady place in self-made 100 crore clubs. I wouldn’t be averse to saying that producers are more interested in making money and exploiting the unthinking nouveau riche of India with ‘entertaining’ blockbusters which are of decidedly less value as compared to its poorer but more gifted counterparts with good plots.
There are of course exceptions, but the majority only care about their fat bellies and increasing bank balance. Though, what about the interest of the common man? Who cares! Leaving aside a few, the entire horde is here to make money, kyunki jo dikhta hai, wahi bikta hai!