After not-such-great cinema failed to lure audiences into empty theatres last year, the industry decided to put its money where the real investment was, with a miniscule chance of making it back that is, on the stars, as loads of multi-starrer films walked in and out of vacant theatres. This year’s stream of these films that hoped to cash in on the producer’s biggest expense — the actor’s fee — failed miserably, leaving the industry wondering where exactly was it that they were going wrong.
Film trade analysts, however, feel that there is no guaranteed deciding factor for the success of a film. Of the various reasons why they feel producers are struggling to find a perfect formula, the main is corporate entrants into the producer’s role and lack of investment in smaller films. “Multi-starrers became popular because producers started making movies because they had the actor’s dates, not because they had a good story,” said Amod Mehra, film trade analyst.
“Movies like Chandni Chowk to China, Blue and Kambakkht Ishq were made because people had dates with Akshay Kumar. These are corporate decisions of forced movies, and are made without an understanding of the medium and is only taking us further away from creating good cinema.”
Lack of good writers, the recession and so on: there seemed to be no end nor pattern to this madness, except for the fact that four star actors instead of one in a movie, is not a sure-shot way to a hit. And even if it does, it works only momentarily. “Ajab Prem Ki Ghajab Kahani did so well, but when the same actor returned with renowned director-writer duo in Rocket Singh, no one watched,” said Vinod Mirani, managing editor, Box Office India, a weekly trade magazine.
Having eliminated options of big budgets, multi-starrers, single starrers, good directors et al, it all boils down to good content. “3 Idiots was a perfect example, it had more than one star but it did phenomenally well, where as something like Rocket Singh had the one hit star and it bombed,” said Mirani.
“The old-school producer knew he had everything at stake if he lost money on a film, now the corporates have loads to invest and they’re doing it recklessly,” said Mehra.
The audiences, meanwhile, can’t afford watching small movies that only release in multiplexes, as the ticket prices defeat the purpose. Conspiracy theories about actors vying for multi-starrers to save their careers and multinationals investing money without any knowledge of the industry are others.
“Films like 3 Idiots, New York, Ajab Prem Ki Ghajab Kahani, Paa did well because of the treatment,” said Mehra. “We should not make films for the sake of making films. More than one actor should be cast if the story needs it, not because they are available.”