There is no formula to connect with the audience. There can be a populist appeal to every film. And except a couple of them, most of the films listed below were made in a very tight budget. I firmly believe that we can make films more profitable, if we use the money correctly. As far as I can remember, the wave of new-age cinema was initiated by Ram Gopal Varma’s Satya in 1998. Another film that gave a real jolt to the industry was Black Friday (2004). Directed by Anurag Kashyap, this was one movie that I felt should have travelled across the world. It gave a huge boost to film-makers, and more than that, it brought forth the fact that such a film can also be made in Bollywood.
Then, in 2007, Shimit Amin’s Chak De! India became one of the first films of the sports genre to be made on such a scale in Bollywood. The movie had a huge influence on the industry. I am not only talking in terms of box-office collections, but these films made a creative difference. And, in the recent years, The Lunchbox (2013) effortlessly told us a story. It reminded me of European cinema and Iranian films.
Shimit Amin’s Chak De
Another movie that ventured into uncharted territories was Udaan (2010) by Vikamaditya Motwane. Vikram tried to tap into an age that no one cares about. It was the first time that a movie dealt with the coming-of-age theme among teenagers.
Then followed a slew of biopics. Paan Singh Tomar (2012) is a film I wish I had made. I was really jealous of Tishu (Tigmanshu Dhulia; director) on how beautifully he made that film. I was awed by Irrfan Khan, and the way he portrayed his character with such conviction.
Paan Singh Tomar
In another direction, Wake Up Sid (2009) depicted mature film-making by young director Ayan Mukerji. He handled the subject and his characters in such a fine manner. The movie stunned the audience as well as the industry. Another film I would like to mention is Khosla Ka Ghosla by Dibakar Banerjee. His portrayal of how a dysfunctional family unite over a land dispute was incredible. Dibakar brilliantly captured a gamut of emotions in the film.
Rajkumar Hirani’s Munna Bhai franchise was a heartwarming experiment that struck a chord with the audience. We never thought that a subject like Munna Bhai would garner such a positive response. The franchise gave the industry as well as the audience a well-written satire after a long time. Shimit’s 2009 film, Rocket Singh: Salesman Of The Year, was one of the most talked-about movies in the industry. However, unfortunately, it was not well received by the audience.
Rajkumar Hirani’s Munna Bhai franchise
All these films gave a boost to the industry and directors. On a personal level, it made me believe that such films could be made in the commercial space. I was pleasantly surprised when Madras Cafe (2013) survived. It was quite a risky venture. Earlier, during Vicky Donor (2012), I never thought that a subject like sperm donation would be accepted with such love. Sperm donor is such a taboo concept, and was most likely to find its way in a ‘C’ grade film. But it, too, created a revolution. Now, every hospital has an infertility clinic attached to it.
Rocket Singh: Salesman Of The Year
(Shoojit Sircar is a Bollywood film-maker)