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The Small wonders

We start our run-up to the year-end specials and give you a daily stock on what 2010 meant to various fields in arts and entertainment. First up, films. With biggies like Rakesh Roshan’s Kites, Mani Ratnam’s Raavan and Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Guzaarish crashing at the box office, it was a year of the small-budget films and debutant directors

bollywood Updated: Dec 29, 2010 18:54 IST
Priyanka Jain
Priyanka Jain
Hindustan Times

It’s been a watershed year for Hindi cinema. A year that saw triumph of content over the lure of big stars, big banners and big budget films. Barring Rajneeti and Golmaal 3, most other big budget films like Mani Ratnam's Raavan, Rakesh Roshan's Kites, Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Guzaarish and Ashutosh Gowariker’s Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey were mega disasters.

While Khosla Ka Ghosla, Bheja Fry, Dev D, in recent years, have made us take notice, this year has been a sheer treat for film watchers who enjoy watching homogenous stories coming from within their surroundings.

udaanThere was an influx of small-budget films like debutant director Vikramaditya Motwane’s Udaan, Abhishek Sharma’s Tere Bin Laden and Anusha Rizvi’s Peepli Live. Other films that caught our attention were Shyam Benegal’s Well Done Abba, Vinay Shukla’s Mirch, Dibakar Banerjee’s Love Sex Aur Dhoka and Subhash Kapoor’s Phas Gaye Re Obama.

Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap says, “The audience doesn’t appreciate mediocrity any more. People don’t want to be taken for granted. That’s why masala films with no substance don’t work any more. A film that gives you respect and does not make you lose money is a better proposition than one that is huge and makes you lose Rs. 30 crore on it.”

He adds that the audience is now more exposed to international cinema. They want to see things they can take discuss on social networking sites. Kashyap informs that while Peepli Live was a bona fide hit at the box office, the aforementioned films have made profit after selling home videos and garnering satellite rights, so it’s a win-win situation for those involved.

Rizvi echoes, “There is a whole new generation of filmmakers who are confident of the story they want to tell. They don’t have big stars, but have strong story-telling techniques. They work within limited budgets.” She adds, “When the audience paid Rs. 300 to watch a movie like Raavan, they felt terrible. People aren’t over with big-budget films, but if the movie isn’t going to justify the money spent, then the family is not going to go for it.”

Vikas Bahl, chief creative officer, UTV Motion Pictures, who produced similar films last year, such as Dev D, Aamir, A Wednesday, and Udaan earlier this year, says, “I look for director’s ability to hold the audience’s attention for two hours. A script like Udaan can throw anyone off, including me. For us, the story is always ahead of the math. If it’s a genuinely entertaining story for a certain audience, they will do the rest for you. Nothing is bigger than word of mouth in our business.”

He adds, “The audience doesn’t know the budget of a film. Only marketing or a star presence tells them whether it’s a big experience or a small experience. The advantage of a small film is that it is focused to an audience. Over time, if there is a difference in the ticket pricing for small and big films, it will help the small film market.”

First Published: Dec 25, 2010 12:38 IST