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Social media has changed the game


When we started with films like Khiladi and Baazigar, neither the media nor television had as much of a presence as they do today. So many movies would work in the single-screen theatres. Movies had what were called silver and golden jubilees. It was that kind of an atmosphere. Music companies like Tips and T-Series were there, among many others. But today, a long run is ruled out.

The charm of music is still intact. Music is still important in movies. Three to four songs in every movie needed to be good then, and it is the same now. When we were young, we used to watch films like Teesri Manzil because we were big fans of Vijay Anandji. So when we created our own films, like Baazigar, we were told by Venus records to put in three to four good songs. The craze for that has not changed, but the songs have changed a lot.

Digital, television and of course social media have become so powerful that you get to know about each and every thing that is going on around you. Everything is open now.

Earlier, there was no such thing as talent management either. The stars were directly approachable. They had managers or secretaries who would come to the producer’s office. The actors would hear the story directly. Now you send a script, a bound script and all that. Akshay (Kumar) just heard Khiladi in one line. During Baazigar, we told Shah Rukh (Khan) to hear the story from the writer because we were bad at narration. But he wanted to hear it from us and said, never mind the narration. He wanted to know the director’s vision. So we gave a short narrative and he said yes. That’s how it was.

Now we have to contact the talent management firms and send the scripts to them. One doesn’t even know if the actor is reading the script or not. Someone else may be reading it. Then we are told that it wasn’t interesting enough. But no one knows who is actually saying this, the actor or his/her staff. We still have the relationships that we built decades ago. Akshay and Shah Rukh are still approachable to us. We can call them directly and meet up with them. But this is because of our old relations. Nowadays such bonds just aren’t formed.

Today, everyone is influenced by social media. People’s mindsets have changed because of it. A new release gets various reviews by people all around the world. The audience comes to know what the movie is by the time of the interval of the first show on the first day. So the charm that cinema used to have is not there anymore. It especially impacts thrillers, as spoilers affect the suspense. Digital platforms and social media have both pros and cons.

Before, there used to be word-of-mouth about a movie after its release on a Friday. And it would help the film because the reviews, the official ones of magazines and newspapers, come out on Saturday. Now, all reviews are instant. In many places, Bollywood films are released on Thursday, so the reviews are out even earlier. And people follow these things on the internet. They say, if it has got two stars then we won’t go to see it. In our time, people would first watch the film and then take a decision regarding it. This has been reversed now as people give their verdict first. Everything depends on reviews. If a film a gets four stars then they will go watch it the next day.

It’s a good thing that perceptions are changing towards cinema. The audience has changed so much. E very six months, things are changing. If we have written a script a year ago and it was a hit, that movie already might not work now. We have to understand the mindset of the audience. They think that certain things are dated and so we have to change. We have to go with the change, with what the audience wants.

There are only a few scripts that are evergreen. For the rest, the movie has to be made at the right time and released. Right now, issues-based subjects are doing well. Right now the country is facing its sanitation problem and hence Akshay’s Toilet: Ek Prem Katha has done so well. A film like Shubh Mangal Saavdhan has an issue at its crux tha t no one had spoken about before. If this film had been made a decade ago, it would not have worked. But now people are accepting such things and taking them c orrectly in a humourous way.

Earlier, even bad movies would sometimes work, solely on the power of a star. But today it is no t just about star power but also c ontent power. It has to be the righ t mix of star and content and that’s the mantra of success.

--- What’s missing and what’s new in Tinsel Town

(Written by Abbas-Mustan, producer-director duo)

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