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By training their sights only on the jackpot, filmmakers have lost their soul

It’s not like I don’t enjoy watching Hindi films any more. I live and breathe Hindi movies. But at the risk of sounding pessimistic, I must say that it is usually difficult to recall a movie that has left an impression on me. The only film in the recent past that I can remember is Kahaani, whose screenplay I enjoyed. The director was familiar with the locations and culture relevant to the story and tied in all the elements beautifully. It is obvious that a lot of hard work went into that film.

But, nowadays, most films are forgettable. No one asks, ‘Wasn’t that a good film?’ anymore. Instead, people usually say, ‘Oh, that scene was mind-blowing, the camerawork was fantastic,
lovely song.’

Things were very different in years gone by, when we either liked a film or we didn’t. We didn’t enjoy them in bits and parts, as is the case today. That’s because filmmaking has become a pure business, largely devoid of creativity, good plots, screenplay, consistency and dialogue. Of course, it is a business entailing huge investments. But hasn’t that always been the case? If a film reels in

` 100 crore today, a blockbuster used to earn, say, a fourth of that at the box office. But, since a lakh was worth today’s crore, isn’t it the same? So, aren’t we talking about the same numbers?

Why, then, are we haggling over remuneration and price tags? All you need is a great story, actors suited to the script and great execution. Actors don’t need to practise or train, so why the hullabaloo over remuneration? And when was the last time we came across a perfect screenplay in a film?

Today, filmmakers focus on elements like high-speed, action shots or they have too many cuts and their films are loaded with special effects. Actors have much less to do and the camera much more! Earlier, the screenplay revolved around the character and thus the actors, and we had strong heroes. They didn’t have to shout about being the hero. They were simply given a part to play and they played it to the hilt. Now we layer a character and add elements ‘to make the actor look like a hero’. This is typical of South films and, unfortunately, Hindi movies are emulating that trend.

Earlier, directors and writers were well-informed, well-read and brought their own experiences to the table. This gave richness and depth to the story and script. They knew exactly what they wanted to say and portray; the stories were meaningful; and the characters had emotional strength. Today, filmmakers and writers rip off so much from television and Hollywood movies. The characters are shallow and they lack emotional depth. As for the sets… it is assumed that more grand the sets and the more attractive the film, the bigger its box office collections will be.

Sometimes, these gimmicks work but has anyone spared a thought to the message we are sending out? What are we telling the younger generation of actors? We are effectively saying that acting is easy, direction is easy, and writing is easy. All you have to do is slap on some make-up and costumes, and you’re ready to face the camera. It’s the copy-paste generation, of filmmakers and actors alike. Even our big-budget films are not really contributing
to cinema.

Of course, filmmaking must change with the times, and how times have changed! But, instead of expanding their vision, filmmakers have narrowed it down to just one thing – big bucks. It’s all about how much money I can make; not about enjoying what I am doing. Will this film enhance my brand? And will I gain more fans? Filmmakers today fail to realise that if they simply make good cinema, all these questions will answer themselves in the affirmative.

Another unfortunate trend is the tendency to follow a trend! Whereas we would earlier make a film only because we came up with a good story, abhi ek cheez chal rahi hai toh sab wohi banaenge. Pehle kyun nahi banate thhey? South ki doosri picture chalegi toh hum sab uske peeche bhaagenge. Tomorrow if a different genre does well, we will shift our focus.

Today, there are no re-runs. Picture acchi ho ya buri, aadmi toh dekhne jaate hain. Cinema ka ek system ban gaya hai, cinemas are increasing and business is increasing, which is very good for the industry. But, in the process, we are stripping the industry of its dignity. Aaj usne itne crore bana diya, minister ne yeh kiya, builder ne yeh bana diya. Where is the ethics and commitment to work?

Sadly, there are only a handful of filmmakers who make films they are proud of.

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