It was the winter of ’88. I was in class 8 when I bunked school for the first (and the last!) time to watch a movie called Tezaab.
There was a sea of people outside the theatre. In the little town of Bhilai, now in Chhattisgarh, where I come from, there was no concept of a queue, forget a box-office counter! Whoever could shove their hands amongst 30 other entangled arms into the window would get tickets! And of course, the booking guy ALWAYS got to keep the change – it never came back out! Suddenly, there was a lathi charge and since we were in our school uniforms, the lathis seemed to rain directly on us! We were thrown out of the theatre in no time.
We were huddled in a corner, when one of us, a guy who was a bit older (since he had been in our class for the last three years) decided to stop the screening in the other theatre that was running the same film. The rest of us did not know what he meant – till about an hour later when a guy came out of the other theatre with a big round metal can in his hand. He started to tie it onto the back of a Luna moped, but we managed to block his way. And in a juvenile act of hooliganism, I did not let him go. As a result, we delayed the show in the other cinema.
It was the first time I learnt anything technical about a film. I realised that a movie that we watch with so much awe, sitting in a dark room, is actually physically lying in a round can! The thrill that we felt when the dashing Anil Kapoor made his entry on top of a running train, all the emotional moments of tears and smiles were captured in that round can!
But that was 20 years ago. The world is changing so fast! Films today are retrieved from a drive at a local multiplex or streamed directly and screened. Digital media is no longer the New Media anymore, it is THE Media.
So, in this fast-changing world, we filmmakers face a void immediately after our releases. The big question in front of us: What Next? I had three scripts ready six months ago. But they are all stale now.
I hate this vacuum of What Next? after the completion of every film. It’s like entering a dark tunnel without a torch. Everything seems dark at first, but then, as you inch forward slowly, you get your vision right.
I’ve started writing my Next Film so many times now... I’ve got my page numbers right to begin with! Long way to go from here…
Every one of my filmmaker colleagues has a different approach to the What Next? question. Some plunge into research, some refresh themselves with a long holiday, but most of us sit in a quiet corner and agonise! Almost every one of us is dying to know what the other is thinking!
Whenever we meet each other at a party or an event, we camouflage our curiosity with apparent mutual admiration, hugs and laughter. But the only lingering thought in everybody’s mind is, “What is his or her next?” I am frequently asked this question and I lie to most of them. Different lies at different times…
I read the newspapers, go through FICCI surveys, and follow news closely just to have a wild assumption of the mood of the nation this time next year. Because that’s when my next movie will hit the theatres. But all these calculations and research do not guarantee success. The movie business is still as much a gamble as it was 30, 40, 50 years ago.
But on a serious note, my first and the most important criterion is whether I will enjoy making the film or not. Am I going to have a ball shooting this film? Will I be able to flex my directorial muscles or not?
And I am sure this was the agenda for my fellow filmmakers while making Vicky Donor, Kahaani, Paan Singh Tomar, Gangs of Wasseypur, English Vinglish and Talaash.
All these films pushed the envelope a bit and the audience’s love for them gave us more power to just get up and tell the story we want to. The year 2012 kickstarted a much-needed transition in Hindi cinema. And we will see the ripple effect in the movies releasing next year.
Everyone loves to look into his or her crystal ball, and I’m no different. So here are some random predictions for 2013:
2013 will be the year of 3D films.
More than 30 per cent of Indian screens will be 3D compatible. The biggest advantage of 3D films is that they cannot be pirated, so makers will exploit profits before the inevitable discovery of 3D piracy.
2013 will also be the year of pleasant surprises from indie filmmakers.
2013 will be the year of Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh. Arjun is going to take a bigger leap towards superstardom with his three releases next year Aurangzeb, Gunday and 2 States. Ranveer is a gifted actor – in 2013 he will gear up to prove his mettle with Lootera and Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Ram Leela.
2013 will also see an increase in revenue from satellite rights.
Digitisation of television and a new rating system may not help some hit TV shows, but it’s definitely going to bring more money to movie producers.
I see myself lying in an easy chair 30 years from now and looking back at this decade with pride and happiness. The time that we are living in right now is exciting and creative because of all these wonderful filmmakers. Hindi films have come a long way and they will expand globally. I can say it with pride that we don’t have to change our films to have global appeal. Eventually the world will develop a taste of our cinema as they have for chicken tikka!
Movies I am looking forward to
1. Vishal Bharadwaj’s Matru Ki Bijli Ka Mandola: From Makdee to Saat Khoon Maaf, I always watch his films more than once. There is so much to learn from him
2. Abhishek Kapoor’s Kai Po Che: Mark my words, Gattu (Abhishek) is going to surprise everybody with his non-star cast adaptation of Chetan Bhagat’s 3 Mistakes
3. Deepa Mehta’s Midnight’s Children: I want to see how Salman Rushdie has written a screenplay. Just keeping my fingers crossed that we are graceful enough to accept this film without any political controversy.
4. Rajkumar Hirani’s Peekay: He is the uncrowned king of our generation’s directors. The problem is he makes me wait too long for his films. But then, look who is talking!
Vidya Balan and Emraan Hashmi in a still from Ghanchakkar
5. Prakash Jha’s Satyagraha: Prakashji knows the political pulse of the nation, and his craft of transforming it into celluloid is unparalleled. I love the tagline, ‘Democracy under fire’.
6. Rohit Shetty’s Chennai Express: I love Rohit Shetty’s films. It’s the same small-town boy in me, who was mesmerised by Tezaab. I will want to watch CE. Of course, it’s SRK’s next!
Some others on my must-watch list
Raj Kumar Gupta’s Ghanchakkar
Ayan Mukherjee’s Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani
Vikram Motwani’s Lootera
Rakeysh Mehra’s Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Anand Rai’s Raanjhanaa
Anurag Basu: He came from Bhilai, Chhattisgarh, to realise his Bollywood dream. Having made films such as Murder, Gangster, Life In a... Metro and the much appreciated Barfi!, the ace director is still contemplating his act for 2013
From HT Brunch, December 30
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