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New-age pundits notwithstanding, it’s Bollywood’s signature Indianness that makes our blockbusters work

Art Of Business Networking  All business models have their own technique and approach. However, in the business of media, especially Bollywood, I feel we all have to apply the All-They-Don’t-Teach-At-Harvard approach! Since media is a people’s business, none of us is an island and expect to connect with our audience. Manmohan Desai used to shift from his Napean Sea Road residence to his old Girgaum house when he needed to write his massive blockbusters. It was in those modest surroundings that he discovered his Amar and Akbar and Anthony.

Hindi Cinema Going GlobalHats off to Indian cinema, the world’s largest film producer, which lived up to global expectations after the country launched our globalisation process in the ‘90s. It all started with Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and Lagaan, which took India to foreign shores and began this mega movement with the overseas box-office. Reliance acquiring a stake in Dreamworks and A R Rahman winning Oscars shows where we have reached in the business of world cinema.

Over  25 million Indians living abroad are today even more connected to their roots back home, courtesy, Indian cinema. Last month, when I was in London, at the Odeon Marble Arch Cinema, standing with my nine-year old son in line for tickets of the recently released Transformers-4, a British couple in front of me asked for tickets for Delhi Belly. I was pleasantly taken aback and felt proud to be an Indian. Proud of Indian cinema too. And mark my words, the best is yet to come. Our celluloid journey to win over the world has just begun.

Corporates Raided The Film Industry Taking The Soul Out Of FilmmakingThe corporate influx has definitely disciplined the infrastructure of the entertainment industry, especially in areas that needed correction, namely finance and timelines. The corporate’s value for time and money induced us to adopt a similar work culture. Putting things in black and white is one of the benefits of corporate culture. Because of corporatisation, even out-of-the-box movies are getting wide-scale releases, with widespread exposure.

However, despite such silver linings that corporatisation has created, there are the dark clouds hovering over its existence. Filmmaking is essentially a one man’s vision. I have often heard of interferences by ad hoc and amateur professionals, who shuffle jobs between various such organisations, thereby disturbing the very grain of movie-making, which must be nurtured by motivating the team spirit of the players producing the picture.

That is why even studios like Disney have made their major milestones from Pirates Of The Caribbean, Armageddon to Prince Of Persia, through an independent producer, Jerry Bruckheimer. And similarly, Universal made cult movies from A Beautiful Mind to Gladiator, through Steven Spielberg’s Dreamworks. Speaking from personal experience, I have had a great experience with Eros with the three films (Kambakkht Ishq, Anjaana Anjaani and Housefull), I associated with them. And I am happy they have acquired Housefull-2 for India and overseas.

How Should Films Make Profits – Balancing Risk And Rewards

To begin with, a film’s content must deserve to be converted into a narrative for the big screen. A relevant cast, which is paid proportionately to the expected returns, is the crux of evaluating the budget. I must say the big stars who promise bigger returns with buyers or the box office are well acquainted with the business of cost to returns. That is why some of them are even open to accepting a workable price and equity sharing.

Hats off to Aamir Khan, who set another trend in this direction, which motivated most of the core team of 3 Idiots, to come on board as proportionate equity partners. Today, they are all reaping the harvest of someone’s vision and confidence in the product.

And last but not the least, production planning must be so well designed that shooting must proceed like clockwork regardless of how large the canvas is. Many hit Hollywood romantic comedies are filmed in five to six weeks but many of our basic Hindi movies usually take longer than 150 days of filming, jeopardising their chances of recovery and profits. In a nutshell, the 3 C’s can assure returns and minimise risk: Content, Cost and Control.

Indianness In Hindi CinemaFrom Raj Kapoor to Rajkumar Hirani, the doyens of Indian cinema have worked wonders worldwide, primarily because of their traditional tryst and stories with a soul. Since the globe has shrunk, due to the electronic and virtual world we now live in, the reality that most of us are still rooted to our culture is often overlooked by so-called new-age participants.

I often see some of the best names in showbiz scoffing at conventional cinema norms that have always spelt movie magic at the box office. With due respect to all filmmakers, big and small, this debauchery of dark cinema, that too at someone else’s cost, is not exactly healthy for our trade. While experimental cinema can always flourish at lower budgets, big-budget bonanzas cannot afford any other ingredients except Indianness. That’s exactly what the world audience expects, especially from Bollywood. It is already an accepted word in the dictionary so we had better be proud of it.

It is only an evolved but conventional approach to making movies that can give birth to blockbuster babies like Dabangg, Ready, Bodyguard, Wanted, Singham, 3 Idiots, Munnabhai, Golmaal and Housefull, all of which were both, record-breaking and path-breaking.

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