We have more freedom but we second-guess ourselves more, as audience shifts and systems change
Until some years ago, there was an easiness between us and actors. We could talk to them directly; the managers and agents were not really involved. This has changed.
There has been a major shift in how we shoot films too. Earlier it used to be on film, so it was difficult to do many takes because we were very conscious of how much time and money each take took. Ever since the shift to digital, it has become easier to have a lot of takes for each shot. But that also increases the editing hassle, because you have to go through say 8 to 10 takes as opposed to earlier, when there would be just one or two.
Nowadays, I think there is a lot more focus on the details around a story. It used to be that the character, dialogue and script were the most important things. Now the focus is on what clothes the heroine will wear and what color the curtains in the sho t will be. I think this has diminished certain aspects of filmmaking.
Social media is probably one of the biggest changes the industry has seen lately. There used to be a sense of mystery around the Bollywood industry; now everyone knows what the stars are doing, where they are shooting, what they are eating. You just go on to Google and the entire life history of the person is in front of you. And that is a good thing, that people can get so much in formation.
The audience has changed, and how we think about them has changed too. It used to be that you thought of a story and turned into a script. Now, people keep wondering, ‘How will it be received by everyone?’ Even though we have a lot of freedom in terms of filmmaking these days, there is a lot of second-guessing going on. The truth is, one thing hasn’t changed: The audience still always appreciates a good movie.
VFX is another major change that we have seen. Before, as writers, if we thought of something big, we had to then wonder if it would be possible t o get it onto the screen. Now, whatever you think up, whatever you want to create, it can be done. VFX has helped the movies a lot. Women-centric movies are much-talked-about now. But even in earlier years, there were many films that could be called women-centric. Many actresses in Raj Kapoor’s films had substantial roles. Actresses like Nutan, Nargis and others delivered many memorable performances. Directors like V Shantaram have always given us strong female leads.
In the end, it all comes down to budgets. Take women-centric movies… the reason they’re working right now is because the audience is accepting them. Actresses like Deepika (Padukone), Anushka (Sharma) and Kangana (Ranaut) have done films that have worked well. If they are bringing in the revenue, then why won’t more movies be made around them? Also, it is about entertainment.
– On eight major changes he has witnessed in Tinsel Town
(Written by Anees Bazmee, writer-director-producer)