Epic movies with mega-budgets are definitely the flavour of the South. Will Bollywood go the Baahubali way?
While revelling in the record-breaking numbers that Baahubali: The Conclusion has racked up, SS Rajamouli’s mega production has also triggered an undercurrent of envy in Bollywood. The sheer spectacle mounted by the South director has not only left the Hindi film trade in awe, it has also made Hindi filmmakers wonder whether ‘big’ is indeed better at the box office.
But wait, Bollywood does not have to emulate just Baahubali. If that film was reportedly made on a budget of `300 crore, another South film Sangamithra, expected to go on the floors soon, is also going to be made on an epic budget.
What’s more, recently, Southern superstar Mohanlal announced that he would be a part of a film based on MT Vasudevan Nair’s Malayalam film, Randamoozham, called The Mahabharata, which will be made on a mammoth budget of `1,000 crore.
Then there’s Rajinikanth’s 2.0, again considered to be one of the most expensive films to be made in India. Early estimates suggested that the film would cost its producers more than `400 crore, with a large chunk of the budget dedicated to CGI.
This CGI-driven evolution has emboldened filmmakers, many of whom are now taking risks and making films on massive budgets, to cater to the more nuanced tastes of Indian movie-goers. Clearly, it’s a golden time for a filmmaker to strike out and make what he or she believes in making.
However, this sudden burst of courage is limited largely to the South industry while the Hindi film industry is yet to produce films with humongous budgets. In fact, every time an announcement is made about a film with a grand budget, it is soon followed by another one, about the project being shelved!
This week, we ask trade insiders why Bollywood hasn’t taken a leaf out of the South book by mounting films on a grand scale. Over to them:
Apoorva Mehta, CEO, Dharma Productions
The South industry has definitely been more aggressive than Bollywood in making large-scale films. Having said that, Bollywood too has, in the past and even in the present, been making big-budget, large-scale movies. However, the budgeting and scale varies and depends on the individual needs of each and every project. If the content calls for a large scale, Bollywood producers have shown the gumption to finance such movies. In future too, producers from both the South as well as Bollywood will continue to support good cinema, and with the success of Baahubali, young filmmakers nationwide will be enthused to dream and successfully execute larger and grander productions.
Rajkummar Rao, Actor
I have no idea. I think somebody will have to just have that kind of faith and that kind of story and vision. When I watched SS Rajamouli’s Eega, I thought, ‘This guy is a visionary’. How can he make a film on a housefly and make that Makkhi a hero? I think he was always a visionary. Magadheera is another mind-blowing film Rajamouli has made. I think somebody will just have to take that work and think, ‘I really want to do it.’
Atul Kasbekar, Producer
I guess South producers, directors and artistes realised that, given the surplus of visual entertainment freely available, one needs to stimulate the audience to entice them to come to cinemas. Embracing technology to create a never-seen-before scale is one way to draw them in.
The fact that Baahubali: The Conclusion did so well is due to Baahubali: The Beginning. Part one of the film garnered an equal response at the box office, like many Hindi releases. It was the wait for the film that generated curiosity and helped it get to that level of success. The makers of the film didn’t make a profit from the first part but made surplus profits from the second part. We have talent, we have stories and we have the infrastructure. It is a start and films of such calibre will surely be made in our industry in due time. We have made films with huge budgets earlier and the trend will soon pick up again.
Saket Chaudhary, Director
I don’t think it’s a matter of shying away. I think SS Rajamouli is the kind of director who follows his passion for the subject. However, one can’t blindly throw money at making a big film. Baahubali was such a huge hit that it makes us wonder why we don’t make more films of this scale. But, I believe, the next person who does a film like this, whether studio or production house, will have to shut down because films like this need talent and the conviction of the filmmaker who is making it. You cannot replicate that. He is a very special director and he is exceptionally talented. So instead of throwing money at a film, we should find a director who can pull it off.Also, one could also ask – why haven’t they made a Dangal? There are good films coming from all over this country and we should not replicate them.
Nikkhil Advani, Director
The South has always been a trailblazer when it comes to both the subjects they choose and technology in their films. Directors like Sangeetham Srinivas Rao, Mani Ratnam, Shankar and SS Rajamouli, to name only a few, have always pushed the envelope. It was only a matter of time before they broke the box office glass ceiling. Hopefully, the Hindi film industry will now follow suit.
Remo D’Souza, Director
We have stopped making films, we have started making set-ups. We don’t believe in scripts, we believe in stars. If someone says, ‘Let’s do something amazing,’ someone else will say, ‘Yes, but first get the star.’ In contrast, in the South, they believe in scripts and concepts, and the stars are willing to give so much to their films. For instance, Prabhas devoted three to four years to Baahubali because he believed in the script. Producers and actors also understand that scripts are very important and that’s the only area where we are lacking. In the South, people are open to new concepts. They invest in their films, not their actors.
Sabbir Khan, Director
There’s nothing stopping us and definitely there’s no dearth of talent within the Hindi film industry. People forget we made Mughal-E-Azam in 1960, but yes we need more believers and backers for our filmmakers’ vision within our industry.