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New formula for films

The mood I began 2005 with and the mood I ended it with were completely the opposite. The year of course ended buoyantly, because of the success of Iqbal.

india Updated: Jan 01, 2006 00:29 IST

The mood I began 2005 with and the mood I ended it with were completely the opposite. The year of course ended buoyantly, because of the success of Iqbal. But at the beginning of the year I was at a point in my career were I was catering to the audience I had built for my films, and no more. I had garnered a particular audience but I was constantly told that my sensibilities could not appeal to a wider audience (one reason given to me was that my actors did not act dramatic enough, which I did not buy). I believe in the Hrishikesh Mukherjee model. He made films which reached a larger audience without the actors being hams or the film being over the top. And his films were loved by the public.

When I began shooting Iqbal, I was both excited to be shooting a film but also nervous because this was the first time I was making a completely Hindi film. This film was going to put me in the same playing field as the rest of mainstream cinema. I feared that if Iqbal did not work I would be back to making smaller films. We felt we had a good film on our hands but the critical acclaim had to translate into good business. I have ended the year optimistically knowing that films with my sensibility, story and treatment can reach wider audiences. As an individual I feel energised to tell more stories the way I want to.

My 2005 experience tells the story of the changing mood in Bollywood. We have seen that Bollywood has created space within its fold for various genres. Today, mainstream cinema and independent films (loosely put) can co-exist. Vishal Bharadwaj, Madhur Bhandarkar and Nagesh Kukunoor can co-exist, no longer afraid of cannibalising on each other's audiences or resources. Page 3 and Iqbal were both Bollywood films that proved that money can be made at the box office without big stars.

Stepping into 2006, there are a few markers that I feel will headline the year in movie making:

The Multiplex: The advent of the multiplex has forced us to rethink the film business. There's a full frontal assault on the opening weekend to clock in the numbers. Things will go berserk in 2006. There will be an over-building of multiplexes and some will be unprofitable especially as currently there is insufficient software to furnish the projected screens.

The emergence of the studio system: We have the screens but not the content. Enter the big players: Percept, Sahara, Yashraj, UTV are some of the studios responsible for speeding up productions and playing the numbers game. This provides a great environment for directors as the pool is going to expand rapidly.

I.P. protection: With the injection of public money into filmmaking, a level of accountability has come into the film industry. We need legal processes to ensure that we're not stealing because the world is becoming a smaller place and will soon know if our films are being made without legally purchasing the rights. We already see more people adapting literature or original material legally.

Fragmenting of Bollywood: In 2006 the industry will continue to open up new genres and markets for different kinds of filmmakers. Once, a non-formula filmmaker was clubbed into art house bracket and relegated to the film festival circuit. But today we see a move towards shorter, songless, starless mainstream films. Audiences are being offered greater choice, in terms of genres and not just between Bollywood or Hollywood.

I think it's a fabulous time to be a filmmaker. There are plenty of funds available and many more talented people will get breaks while existing filmmakers will spread their wings rather than be restricted by a formula. The New Year will rock.

First Published: Jan 01, 2006 00:29 IST