Thursday, July 16, 2009

May 2009

2Results of 15th Lok Sabha are out and Congress led UPA has won a decisive victory. Am I happy? No! Then, am I a BJP led NDA supporter? Doesn’t matter. So what are my political affiliations? Being an ordinary member of the film fraternity, which ever party or group I belong to, my first affiliations are with the industry I belong to. And I have no hesitation in saying that every central government has treated this industry with apathy.

Be it piracy, be it taxation or be it recent stalemate between producers and multiplex owners, government of the day turns to other side and behaves as if every thing is hunky-dory. This is step-motherly treatment. Or perhaps this is sheer negligence, because to give step-motherly treatment you have to be a mother at least. This industry is treated like an orphan, not cared, not wanted. And this despite the fact that central government earns millions in taxes from the industry.

What is the solution? Every sector of India is united and they extract their pound of flesh, sometimes more than their legitimate share, from the government of the day. So, as an industry, we have to speak in one voice. Only then our voice will be heard. Otherwise be it UPA or be it NDA, we will get same orphan like treatment. Mr. Advani or Dr. Manmohan Singh, both are gigantic figures and truly a colossus but unless and until we speak forcefully and in one voice, their apathy would be same. 

Last month was cruel for the industry. First we lost Shakti Samanta and then inimitable Feroz Khan. I have trained Shakti da’s grandson Aditya Samanta for acting, but apart from this there were no personal acquaintances with Shakti da. People know him through his films like Howra Bridge, An Evening In Paris, Aradhana, Kati Patang and several others.

During Prem Aggan days I trained Ferdeen also. While training him I came to know Mr. Feroz Khan. After his sad demise so many pages have been written about his life style, about his film making and his larger than life persona. Few worth mentioning things were missing from every article written about him. I was invited for the launch party of Prem Aggan. I was not expecting it, but I was pleasantly surprised when I saw a Hindu Pandit and a Moulavi performing rituals in tandem. Being a Muslim he would have done it in muslim way. But being a true Indian, he got a Pandit and a Moulavi to do the rituals. When he went to Pakistan, he sang paeans about India and famously said that conditions of muslims in India is much better. I had pleasure to be in F.K. House for lunch or dinner several times. In Fardeen’s room an idol of Bhagwan Shiv is prominently placed. Do I need to say any thing else about Mr. Feroz Khan’s secular credentials?   

The stalemate between producers and multiplex-owners continues. Every party is waiting for the other to blink first. Both parties are holding on because of the IPL matches and the month long parliamentary elections. Elections are over now and very soon IPL will also have it’s closing ceremony. After this lean period, one expects a boom of big releases but because of the petty egos of the leaders of both sides, the end is no where in site. The game of Chess continues, with no clear winners in sight. Government, which earns millions from the industry, is sitting like mythical Dhritarashtra and watching helplessly and obliviously the bizarre drama being played in front of it.

Copyright issue is raising it’s head and very soon it is going to be an epidemic. We have to find a solution for this. The curious case of B.R.Films and the legal notice, it was served by a Hollywood studio, is a pertinent example. The globalization and opening of market are opening new vistas and the world is coming closure. Gone are the days when bindas bandas of Bollywood can lift a theme from a foreign film and dish it out in front of the desi audience as their own and original creations.

The Corporate bubble burst is complete. You can call their offices and the chances are that either no one will pick up the phone or if a receptionist picks it up, she will listen to you and will connect you to the concerned department. And there, no one is going to pick it up ever to answer your queries. This decline and fall of the Corporate was imminent because of their ways and the methods they followed. Sanctioning exorbitant budgets, signing artistes at any cost and pumping millions in any kind of films were their follies and now they are paying for it.

In the decline of the Corporate, lies the rise of the independent producers. Once they dominated the industry and virtually ruled it. But after the advent of the money-bags, they faded into oblivion. It’s the time for them to rise like phoenix.

It’s the time for the single-screen theaters too to re-invent themselves. Since the advent of multiplexes, they were facing rough weathers. It’s a blessing in disguise for them also.

For Marathi films too, it was a significant opportunity. Because of the paucity of Hindi films, Marathi films were decently released in the multiplexes, found audience and raked in the much needed money.

One significant film, which was released during this period and bombed significantly, is                  “ Dasavataram ”. Kamal Hassan is undoubtedly one of our most talented and multidimensional actors. But in his latest film, he stretches himself too far. Film is a narration of a story. This film has no story worth mentioning. As for acting is concerned, actor’s job is portrayal of a well- defined character. Here Kamal Haasan tries to manipulate so many characters at one go and instead of portraying them convincingly, he fails convincingly. So much waste of energy and squander of precious money. Better luck next time Mr. Hassan. You are too talented to be ignored. 

Towards the end, I, a very insignificant person, appeal to the new government to look into the matters of this great industry. It is beset with many problems. Dr. Manmohan Singh is a great reformer. As a Finance Minister of India, under tutelage of the then Prime Minister P. V. Narsimha Rao, he resurrected India’s moribund economic condition. He can do wonders, if he wishes. As an eminent economist, he cannot be oblivious of the conditions and needs of film industry. It needs his heeling touch to resurrect it, the way he once resurrected this country’s economy. I do hope and pray that he turns his attention on the industry.

These are the random thoughts for this column. Next time, there will be another issues and another set of problems. I finish this one with lots of hope and wishing the new government best of luck and longevity.


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