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New Beginnings

Diwali is a time for new beginnings and never before has the film industry mirrored this sentiment more than now. Let us keep celebrating new platforms, new formats, fresh talent and great content, so that the box office continues its golden run

This is year has given Bollywood many reasons to rejoice with one hit film after another since January.

Last year saw a downward curve for the industry as many films did not manage to do well at the box office. But in 2018, the spirits were uplifted because of a mixed bag of films that not only made a place in the hearts of the audience but also did whopping numbers at the box office.

Not only do we have multiple 100 crore films, with Badhaai Ho being the latest film to join the bandwagon, we also have films like Padmaavat and Sanju which crossed the 200 and 300 crore mark, respectively. The other successful films include names like Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, Pad Man, Hichki, Raazi, Raid, Stree, AndhaDhun, Sui Dhaaga – Made In India and October among others.

And this is not even the end of the year. With the Aamir Khan-Amitabh Bachchan starrer Thugs Of Hindostan at the box office currently and films like Shah Rukh Khan’s Zero and Simmba starring Ranveer Singh and Sara Ali Khan, waiting for release next month, the festive joy is sure to continue.

We spoke to people across the Hindi film industry who shared the message they have for their fraternity for Diwali. These professionals also spoke about the one change they would like to see in the industry on the occasion of the New Year.

Mukesh Bhatt, Producer

The year that has gone by has been a very fascinating year for the film industry, where films with fresh and good content have delivered. It is high time we read the writing on the wall and realise that we need to give value to good content rather than make projects with big stars. The reason for this is that ultimately good content is delivering the numbers. We used to always say that ‘content is king’ but noone really followed that maxim. But after seeing the results in the last 12 months, it is an eye-opener for filmmakers in terms of the direction they should take.

I would advise the industry to stay together, stay united as one family, so that we can overcome any crisis that comes our way. 

Bhushan Kumar, T-series

I would like to wish the entire film fraternity a very Happy and Prosperous Diwali. This has been a good year for the industry where all kinds of films across various genres have worked at the box office. I wish this trend continues to grow and more films work in the coming year and we break the record of 2018 where successful films are concerned.

Vijay Singh, CEO, Fox Star Studios

The year 2018 has been a good year for the Hindi film industry, with 10 films making it to the 100-crore club, and we have some potentially big films yet to release in the last two months. More importantly, what is very encouraging is the diversity of genres and stories that have worked at the box office. I do not recall a single year when such diversity of content has worked! For Fox Star Studios too, it has been a good year with diverse content working – a commercial action-thriller Baaghi 2 and a biopic Sanju, both of which had a fantastic run at the box office. As an industry, we need to continue to push the envelope on content and, most importantly, create it at the right cost. It’s an exciting time for Bollywood!

Sneha Rajani, Head, Sony Pictures Networks Productions

There is a lot of discussion around 2018 being a great year for the Indian film industry and I believe we are only getting started. Not only have we seen an excellent shift in the variety of content this year, we have also seen myriad actors shine like never before. With the kind of cinema that is being made, I am certain that our industry is poised for growth, and footfalls will continue on an upward trajectory. In the days and months to come, I truly wish that along with making some path-breaking films, we also ensure – without exception – that our industry is the safest workplace for one and all.

Madhur Bhandarkar, Producer-Director

This year has been great for the film industry in terms of content-driven cinema. Films may not have had a big star cast but they have done well at the box office. All kinds of cinema have worked. It is a positive sign for the business. And as the year is ending, films like Thugs Of Hindostan and Zero will continue the trend because of the people involved and the buzz around these films.

Every year, there are changes… budgets change, techniques change. Overall, showbiz is doing well in terms of digital and I hope this trend continues into 2019.

Ramesh Taurani, Producer

We have to focus more on scripts and stories. This year has proved that people want to see different kinds of cinema. Good scripts have worked at the box office this year. There was Raazi, Badhaai Ho, AndhaDhun and Parmanu: The Story Of Pokhran. People are ready to watch different kinds of films. Hence, we have to give them new stories and coming-of-age films. We have to be more alert regarding the kinds of scripts we are working on. It is a good sign that the audience is ready for
new stories.

I wish the film industry and everyone connected with it a very Happy Diwali and a prosperous New Year. I hope that all films do very well and we get loads of success.

Richa Chadha, Actor

I hope that this Diwali brings in more success to the industry like it has this year. I would love to see healthy competition along with an overall feeling of fraternity. It is wise to celebrate each other’s success and do what’s best for the business as a whole.

Sonu Sood, Actor

I feel that 2018 has been spectacular for the industry. A lot of films have worked, especially small-budget films. More content-oriented films have seen success. And this is a great message for all filmmakers, directors, producers, actors and production houses, to work on content. They shouldn’t think about who is saleable and who is not saleable. They should pick the right directors, right actors and make films with good content. I would like to tell them to choose new faces and show faith in them, so that new people and new talent can come in.

We have many web series coming up along with many other different platforms, which is very good for the industry. It’s a new era that we are experiencing as individuals. So, it is time to come together and work on some good films, show faith in new subjects as well as new talents and make this industry a more rocking place.

We have to create new platforms, give chances to new people. Established actors and production houses should cast new actors, new directors, give them a chance and believe in their talent. I think that is the way a new industry can emerge. It will then be a better platform for everyone to survive on.

Milap Zaveri, Writer-Director

I hope everyone has a wonderful Diwali. I wish them laughter, light, success and good health. I hope everyone continues making movies, watching movies, entertaining the audience and living their dreams. One change I want to see in the coming year is that I wish films are also made for single screens. People should not only make films for multiplexes, but also for the mass audience. This year, Baaghi 2 and Satyameva Jayate did very well. I would want people to not neglect the hardcore audience who has propped up our industry up for so many years.

Siddharth Anand Kumar, VP, Films and TV Saregama and Yoodlee Films

I am hoping that the box office continues its golden run in this season of celebration. The next two months have some marquee films lined up, with some of the most important names in the business. I am sure this will turn out to be a watershed year for business. What we can learn from this year is that the audience is rewarding rich and differentiated stories drawn from real life. This is happening in both commercial as well as indie cinema.

My wish for the industry is to find ways to level the playing field for the newer voices and emerging talents: differential pricing in theatres, reduced tax burden and censorship, and incentives for theatres to play smaller films. Let us allow our cinema to reflect a resurgent and beautiful India in all her splendour.

Mudassar Aziz, Filmmaker

The film fraternity is just a small part of an otherwise big city, which is a part of a big country. Eventually, my message to my fraternity will be my message to my country. As an industry, we have never been divided. We have never been separate from one another’s interests on the basis of caste, creed, religion, who belongs to what part of the country and what language one speaks. It is a little hurtful when, from within the industry we look outward and see this happening in the country.

I grew up in a South Mumbai, Muslim household, where Diwali has been one of my most cherished and favourite festivals. This is the only industry where we have never found reasons to differentiate. Our interests align with each other on the basis of creativity and commerce, and nothing more. Inshallah, I hope it always remains that way.

We have always been an industry governed by the audience’s choices. I think the change that is already happening is a change that the audience has clearly chosen for us. And it is a very welcome change. It is a change of films driven purely by story, content, script and nothing else. This helps filmmakers from different walks of life and those who come from outside the industry like myself. To be able to believe that if you get the script right, the film will do well is such a welcome trend.

Look at movies like Stree, Raazi and Badhaai Ho, which are enough to tell you that there is no need to chase stars. I am glad we have become a transparent industry on many other counts as well. It is a good time, it is a festive time. For instance, you and I have never met. Just the access of being able to speak to somebody in this way also comes from the fact that you know how the industry functions. You know for a fact that a filmmaker will be happy to share this particular emotion with you when you pick up the phone and call him.

Even at BOI, you know that you can report the facts without doing the kind of things that tabloids do. We have always been a close-knit industry. There is always that comfort.

Aparshakti Khurana, Actor

It’s been a truly spectacular year and there are a lot of people responsible for this successful run the industry has experienced. On this occasion, I would to say that the crew on a film should be treated and celebrated equally for sacrificing so many days and nights to make a film happen.

Viineet Kumar Singh, Actor

I always introspect and ask myself what changes I can make to improve my work. I look at my life, my career and even
at the industry in the same way. I believe that if I rely on things that lie in the control of others, it will only make things difficult for me. So I look at what I can improve, aspects that in my control.

Deepavali is festival of lights and light takes everyone forward in life. So I pray that we all end the darkness and highlight the beautiful things around us. Mumbai is the city of dreams, and I am grateful to the audience for appreciating my work.

Aayush Sharma, Actor

I have just entered the industry and my experience is limited. But I do believe this is one of the most exciting times to be a part of the Hindi film industry.  Stereotypes are being busted and content is being appreciated like never before. The one change I would like to see in the industry is see more films made for children. I believe children’s entertainment is largely ignored. It would be great to see more and more young actors and films that showcase their talent.

Saqib Saleem, Actor

There is a great need, not just in the industry but also in society as a whole, for gender equality and safety for all. I think our industry is taking adequate measures to work towards that. Also, disparity in remuneration is an issue. I hope to see equality across the board in the not-so-distant future.

Warina Hussain, Actor

I wish everyone in the industry and the readers a very Happy Diwali. In Dhanteras 2017, I was signed for my first film in this industry, LoveYatri. It’s been a year since then and we are celebrating the festival of lights once again. I am looking forward to some entertaining projects in the near future. I hope that those who are working during this Diwali take some time out of their schedules to spend it with family and friends.

Rajender Singh Jyala, Chief Programming Officer, INOX Leisure

The year 2018 has been a good year for the industry. We have seen a lot of good movies in the last year, from Fukrey last December, to Tiger Zinda Hai, and Padmaavat, Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, Raazi and Sanju, to Stree and Badhaai Ho, which are recent hits. These films have really clicked and their box office numbers have been outstanding.

Not only Hindi films but also regional and Hollywood content has worked amazingly. Even in the coming two months, there are four to five biggies lined up, right from Thugs Of Hindostan on Diwali, followed by 2.0, Kedarnath, Zero and Simmba, which closes out the year. I expect the forthcoming movies to do well and the New Year to give bigger hits. I wish that the kind of products this year had, the way directors and producers came up with creative and new concepts… I hope this continues in the next year also and the audience continues to like films like these. We have had an amazing year and I hope the next one is even better.

Amit Sharma, Exhibitor, Miraj Cinemas

Samvat 2074, which was last year, was an excellent year for the industry. We had big films like Tiger Zinda Hai, Padmavaat and Sanju, to sleeper hits like Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, Raazi, Fukrey, and so on. It was also a great year in terms of masala and multiplex films. We had masala films like Baaghi 2 and Satyameva Jayate, which were commercial hits. I expect a similar trend for the next year too.

I hope all the stakeholders, from producers to distributors to exhibitors, benefit from good movies and make decent revenue from these projects. At the end of the day, it’s the content that makes a difference at the box office.

It has been an excellent year. There are some great commercial films lined up too, like 2.0, Kedarnath, Zero and then Simmba. Apart from these, there is Manikarnika…, Super 30, Kalank, Bharat and Brahmastra next year. I am looking forward to having a great year again at the box office. My best wishes to everyone this Diwali.

Neeraj Goswami, Senior Vice-President, Sales and Distribution, Viacom18

My message for the industry this Diwali is – may every Friday be as bright as Diwali! This particular year has been a very unique year, where we had blockbusters every month. By ‘blockbusters’, I do not mean films with top actors. I mean films that have delivered fantastic results purely on the merit of their content.

We started the year with a bang, with Padmaavat, a big money spinner. Our last release was AndhaDhun, a sleeper hit. On Diwali, we are releasing a film called Ani… Dr. Kashinath Ghanekar, which will hopefully be appreciated. Overall, it’s been a great year. I think all studios and stakeholders have made a lot of money. By the time this year ends, this will be a hugely profitable year for the Indian box office.

I haven’t seen the numbers yet but I can tell you that 2018 will be by far the biggest year the Indian box office has ever witnessed. I also see this industry changing rapidly. The kind of films that we are making and the approach we have in terms of filmmaking are changing fast and I hope we keep changing for the better.

Bhuvanesh Mendiratta, AVP Operations, Miraj Cinemas

This year was much better than 2017 was and there were many films that worked purely due to their content. We saw many sleeper hits becoming major hits. The first half of the year did not have many big-ticket movies that were hits, whereas sleeper hits like Raazi, Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, AndhaDhun, Stree and Badhaai Ho performed very well at the box office.

Also, with the upcoming big releases in the next two months, the industry will shine brighter. I believe that in the coming year too, the industry should make films that are rich in content. India is a very versatile country with a lot of languages and many religions and movies that leveraged this diversity in 2018 benefited hugely from this.

My message for the industry is, let the film trade grow on the basis of content alone. Let us make and release more and more content-based films so that we can reach out to a maximum number of people.

Devang Sampat, CEO, Cinepolis

This year has been good and we had some beautiful content-driven films that worked amazingly. The difference between ‘big-budget’ and ‘small-budget’ movies is shrinking and all kinds of movies have started to break records at the box office. That is what we have achieved in 2018 and hope it will continue in the coming year too.

I hope the audience continues to appreciate movies with good content. Cinepolis will continue to build and reach out to towns and multiplexes and we will give a platform to all kinds of movies. We will keep encouraging producers to back unique content like they have been doing this year. I wish everyone in the industry a very happy and prosperous new year.

- Bhakti Mehta, Bhavi Gathani, Titas Chowdhury 


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