Audience is smarter, more critical. In a corporatised industry, it’s all about the product
The first change is that the industry has gone corporate. This was a major turning point, one that has had pros as well as cons. It really helped the industry grow and
increase its bottomlines. Business got bigger. Everything became more organised.
On the other hand, it cost the individual producers their direct connect with the stars. There used to be a feeling of family, and friendship; a personal touch to the whole endeavour. Then, as movies began to be made on budgets of 35 and 40 crores, the remuneration of the actors and technicians too increased. Corporates began throwing money, left and right, and people were grabbing at these films, at these opportunities.
When this began to happen, individual producers lost their leverage while dealing with actors, negotiate with them. The style of budgeting changed too. And that is partly why, in the last few years, films have failed… due to high production costs.
Many directors have become free and fearless. In the last few years, filmmakers have been working with a lot of creative freedom, and this had led to films like Vicky Donor, Hindi Medium, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan being made, and leaving a mark. This is definitely a good change in the film industry.
Initially, we were bound by just a few stories, the needs of distributors etc. Youngsters are now freer to think out of the box. The disadvantage is that Western culture and urban life are grabbing most of the attention. But Hindi cinema, Indian cinema, has always been better, it has connected better. Films like Dangal, Sultan, Hindi Medium, etc., these are small-town stories, ruralised concepts.
Filmmaking and marketing have become too departmentalised. In the South, there is a cap on marketing movies. Today, if you make a film for 8 or 10 crores, then 75 per cent of that goes into marketing. That is a big problem. If that happens, then the budget is for production and making a film. Once we get used to this low marketing strategy and low promotional costs, everybody whether it is print media, electronic media or digital media, will be handled. Today, a 10-crore film is actually an 18-crore film.
Indian cinema is, happily, making a global impact now. It is a very brilliant thing that our films are being showcased in 60 to 70 countries. Hindi cinema is being watched by so many people, even in China. New markets have opened up. I think in the next 5 to 10 years our films will have good releases worldwide. And thanks to that, recovery patterns will also change.
The exhibition sector has become very, very big, and that is a very positive sign for the whole recovery model. Our films are being watched by so many people and the experience of watching has become lavish. The look of the cinemas, the sound, the picture quality, these things were not so much of a consideration in the ’90s and early 2000s.
But, again, there is a downside. Something should be done about the pricing of film tickets. Cinema has become a commodity, like oil or soap and prices should be based on the film. If it is a Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar or Salman Khan movie, then you can be expected to pay a certain price for it. If it is a film with lesser-known actors, the prices should be different. The cost of the ticket should depend on the cost of the film and the star presence in it.
The digital platform has become huge. I remember, in 2007, doing an international movie called Brick Lane which was shown at the Toronto film festival and got great reviews. I was placed in the six best actors at the festival. But back then there weren’t any platforms where I could reach out to people. So these things weren’t noticed so much at the time. Today, when something like this happens, you have the power and resources to connect to your viewers directly. You can show them what you have done; you can reach millions of people. I think this is a great medium that has come to us. It is powerful, direct and gives you the ability to say what you feel.
There has been an empowerment of women in the film industry. 10 or 15 years ago, there weren’t many women in production or behind the scenes. Today, there are so many women directors, production assistants, camera people, technicians, etc. Creatively too, there are more women-oriented films. This is a great change, one of the best.
The audience has also changed a lot. They know much more about cinema, because they are exposed to the internet, which helps them consume entertainment from around the world. They know about technique too. They are more critical and are not content to be fed the same stories.This secretive quality that filmmaking, filmmakers and film actors had, has diminished. Pehle hota tha ki kaun log hain, kaha rehte hai, kya karte hai, filmein kaise banti hain, ye sab mein mystery hota tha. Now they know how films are made, how stars live, how stars behave.The audience has matured a lot. They are appreciative of new content too. If it’s a small film and they like the sound of it, they go to theatres and watch it. Some big films have not worked recently, but the smaller ones have done well. That is a big change too
(The only thing that has not changed in all these years is the censor board. Everything is improving; there is a great learning process underway. Cinema is changing, actors are changing, audience is changing, theatres are changing, but the censor is board is still in the same place.
There is a big change needed in the certifying of films. There should be no censor board; there should be certification of films. There should be freedom for everyone to choose what they want or don’t want to watch. Films should just be certified accordingly.
Whether it is universal or adult or restricted, it is up to the person if they want to watch it. And everything is available on the internet anyway. The individual has the power of choice because of the internet.
Major changes are needed in the CBFC (Central Board of Film Certification), and we keep reading that the government is working on that. The Shyam Benegal report is going to come out soon with whole new ideas about certification.
– On changes that are underway, and one thing that needs to be corrected, Satish Kaushik, writer-producer-director-actor