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Conviction Not Convention

Sometimes the path less trodden is the road to success

The formula for the popular beverage Coca Cola is one of the most fiercely guarded secrets in the world, enjoying a level of extreme security that even heads of state would envy. That recipe is the very foundation of one of the world’s leading corporations earning revenues of close to $ 50 billion last year and market leadership in many of the over 200 countries it is available in. It is not surprising that perhaps blue prints of nuclear reactors are easier to get your hands on than the formula for Coca Cola.

However, if there is any formula that is even more elusive than that of Coke, it is the recipe for ensuring a hit film in our industry! Not that you would guess that with the many number of people one meets assuring you that they have a sure-shot hit all lined up on a platter for you… if only you are willing to invest a few (read many) crores behind the next blockbuster!

And this formula comes with many permutations and combinations

Sure-Shot Formula 1: 2 big heroes, 1 big heroine, 7 fight sequences (out of which 2 must be a hand-to-hand fight between hero 1 and hero 2, with each of them winning 1 fight each), 6 songs (2 romantic, 1 on friendship, 1 sad, 1 item and 1 title song)

Sure-Shot Formula 2: 1 big hero, 1 smaller hero, 2 big heroines, plus 1 cameo by a big hero. 6 fight sequences (out of which 2 must be a hand-to-hand fight between hero 1 and hero 2, with hero 1 winning both fights), 6 songs (2 romantic, 1 on friendship, 1 sad, 1 item and 1 title song)

Sure-Shot Formula 3: Get whatever you get but make a great poster
and PPT!

The point I am trying to make is that there is no formula for success. Yes, if you track the collections of films over the years you will see certain genres – say, action and comedy – that are safer than others; you will see that certain actors and filmmakers have been more consistent in delivering hits than the others. And obviously when you are contemplating investing in, or producing a film, you must consider which  similar films of that nature have done well in the past.

However, your decision, either way cannot and should not be based just on historical and prevailing trends. If I may use a cricket analogy, we all know Sachin Tendulkar is one of the living legends of cricket with an average of over 50 runs per test innings. However, while that average may suggest that Sachin is likely to score in the mid-50s, his actual performance on a given day may see him make a 30 or a 200.

Similarly, coming back to the movies, just because a recent South Indian remake was a blockbuster does not guarantee you a similar box office success if you too were to walk down that path. Conversely, you may back a filmmaker who has delivered a couple of flops but he may end up giving you your biggest hit.

Simply put, it is your conviction and not general convention that is more likely to determine the fate of your film. And I would further add that in today’s age, it is the unconventional that is conventional!

So tell me, if a year ago someone was to pitch to you a film centered around a pregnant lady or a five-hour-film in two parts set in a small Bihari town whose name few have heard of – would you have been willing to back these projects with your money?

Well, we at Viacom18 Motion Pictures did… and the results are there for all
to see!


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