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These days, everybody you meet is making a film. Everybody has a script (or several scripts) ready, is in negotiation with a producer or star, has the marketing strategy all worked out, and is gung-ho about the project taking off 'any day NOW'.
If you believe what you hear, hordes of people have a couple of crores to spare and are only too eager to invest in a small film. Apparently, a film without stars can be made in a crore or two. And the investment returned several times over, what with large chunks of money coming from overseas and satellite rights.
A while ago, everyone was making television serials (channels have thousand of pilots lying around, which those in charge don't even have time to watch). Now, the time has come to make one-two-crore films.
Really upbeat aspirants hope Aamir Khan will read their script and greenlight their project. In which case they will come up with the next Sarfarosh or Lagaan. The actor reportedly has over 500 scripts waiting to be read. Considering the general IQ level of the future directors, Aamir will have a painful time reading several Hollywood ripoffs!
The way things work in this industry, if a star gives the nod, the whole machinery of filmmaking -- from finance to exhibition -- can roll smoothly. Which is why so many proposal-makers sign stars at exorbitant fees and then put the project haphazardly together. Miraculously, this method works often. If any of Govinda's films are made with a script in hand, it would be a great surprise!
Aamir and Shah Rukh Khan commit themselves totally to the films they back. Right from sitting in on script and music sessions to working on ad and media promotion campaigns, to making themselves available for interviews and photosessions. The signals that are are sent out to the public are if the star believes in a film, it must be good. That it can still bomb -- like Asoka -- is another story altogether.
Then, there is the school of thought that dispenses with stars. If a star cannot guarantee a hit, why bother with him? Make hard-hitting films without stars. So Chandni Bar is the new touchstone.
So now, even second and third-rung actors who hadn't a hope in hell of having careers worth talking about are getting offers by the dozen.
Every third person is making a film set in the red-light area. If sleaze sells today, why not try selling some more? Like after Satya, everyone wanted to make a hard-hitting gangster film! And after Hyderabad Blues and Bombay Boys, several Indian-English films were planned.
So right now, bright-eyed hopefuls are going around with neatly bound dream scripts expecting to grab some of the crores supposedly being doled out by generous financiers -- a myth if ever there was one.
Very likely, most of these dream films will remain in the mind of the dreamer. But two things can happen if and when this Indian 'indie' movement of budget-one-crore films takes off: Hindi cinema will have a fresh infusion of talent and the stranglehold of stars and industry kids will be broken.
A thousand 'different' films will bloom, etc. Nice thought.
The other thing that can happen is some of these films will get made. An enlightened distributor like Shyam Shroff will release some of them, a couple will succeed and fuel the movement.
A lot of them will turn out mediocre, worse, amateurish efforts. And after a few have been laughed out of the theatres (if they reach that far), things will be back to the normal chaotic, unimaginative state.
That is what happened to the once-promising parallel cinema movement -- it simply collapsed under the weight of too many bad films. One has seen a few of these 'trends' come up and crash. Every time a small film is a commercial success, every aspiring writer-director who found gainful employment in the meantime digs out that rejected script from his/her hope chest and tries to flog it.
In any case, there is a positive buzz in the air. If all that optimism translates into quality films, it would just great.
But just for the heck of it, let's look at the scenario after the dream film has been made and succeeded.
Three things can happen: One, the sensational debutant will end up making small films forever because that's what expected of him and if he doesn't comply he will be accused of selling his soul to the Hindi film industry.
Two, the sensational debutant will have great trouble and double the heartache getting his/her next project off the ground because he/she will now want to up the stakes and make a proper mainstream film -- that was what the ultimate goal was, right? -- and spend the next few years waiting outside a star's make-up van.
Three, the sensational debutant will be co-opted into the mainstream juggernaut, and be doomed to make Dil, Pyaar, Mohabbat, Khushi, Gham, Saath-Saath, Dulha-Dulhania films for the rest of his life. Nightmare!
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