Back to school: Classroom dramas are the new trend in Bollywood | bollywood | Hindustan Times
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Back to school: Classroom dramas are the new trend in Bollywood

A host of flicks, based on school life, are making a mark in the film industry. We track the trend

bollywood Updated: Mar 27, 2017 18:41 IST
Etti Bali
Bollywood
(Clockwise):Stills from Haraamkhor, Nil Battey Sannata, Hindi Medium and Chalk ‘n’ Duster

Bollywood has packed its bags and is going to school. While last year saw two films, Chalk ‘n’ Duster and Nil Battey Sannata dealing with the theme of school life, this year too started with a classroom-based drama, Haraamkhor. The poster of the Irrfan Khan-starrer, Hindi Medium was also launched in January, and Student of the Year 2 is also expected to go on the floors soon. So, is this the new trend that’s caught the imagination of Bollywood filmmakers?

Swara Bhaskar and Ria Shukla in a still from Nil Battey Sannata

“These kind of films provoke some kind of thought and evoke responses from people,” says filmmaker Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, adding, “It empowers the audience in the sense that they feel if they (the on screen characters) can do it, even we can do it. These kind of films cut across ages and social strata.”

Highlights
  • “These kind of films provoke some kind of thought and evoke responses from people,”says filmmaker Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari.
  • “There has always been an audience for this kind of films. If the film is good, people will watch it,” says actor Shweta Tripathi.

Actor Shweta Tripathi agrees and says, “There has always been an audience for these kind of films. If the film is good, people will watch it. The school plays a character in these films. When you see these films, there is a strong relatable factor and that’s what draws a mass audience.”

Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Shweta Tripathi in Haraamkhor.

However, despite having takers in the audience, marketing these films still remains a challenge, say makers. Shlok Sharma, director, Haraamkhor shares, “What connected with the audience was the way we portrayed childhood. The real challenge came when we took the film to studios. They doubted the success of the film; it took some time to convince them about the film’s potential.” Speaking of why these films are usually not picked up, trade analyst Atul Mohan says, “Indie films may have critical acclaim, but that doesn’t always convert into box office numbers.”

Irrfan and Saba Qamar in a promotional still from Hindi Medium.

Adds actor Juhi Chawla who was in Chalk ‘n’ Duster, “Nowadays, films are not given time for word of mouth publicity. The film has to perform at the box office in the very first weekend itself. If it doesn’t get a big start, it gets pulled out of the theatre before it can actually make its mark. Unfortunately, I have not seen any of these films become blockbuster hits.”

Highlights
  • “What connected with the audience was the way we portrayed childhood. The real challenge came when we took the film to studios. They doubted the success of the film,” says filmmaker Shlok Sharma.
  • “Nowadays, films are not given time for word of mouth publicity. The film has to perform at the box office in the very first weekend itself,” says actor Juhi Chawla.
Juhi Chawla and Shabana Azmi in a still from Chalk ‘n’ Duster.

This may not always be the case as franchise films also come with expectations. Trade analyst Omar Qureshi, says, “The business potential of these movies is bigger than some of the glossy films, for the simple reason that the target audience is the youth. So when they want to see a film, that translates to four tickets purchased right away in a family. The audience, however westernised or exposed, are very culturally rooted and want something unique. Franchise films come with higher expectations, so there is scope for both kinds of films to do well. The need of the hour is good and drastically different cinema.”

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