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Single Again!


After chasing the overseas audience for over a decade, the Hindi film industry is rediscovering the power of the single-screen with a vengeance

The last quintessential action film that Dharma Productions produced was Agneepath, two decades ago. Two decades later, I think director Karan Malhotra, wanted to remake the film. He was very passionate about it. He said that if we remake it, it would have to be much more earthy than the original. He wanted to make it different. It so happened that the decision coincides with the mood of the market today vis-a-vis this film.

With the success of Dabangg or Bodyguard or Singham, in terms of genre, we are revisiting something we haven’t done for a long time because love had taken over the ‘90s, love and family dominated the ‘90s. Interesting, new-wave cinema dominated the 2000s. And this decade is suddenly seeing re-emergence of the ‘80s formula film with updated technology.

In genre, we have taken a step back; in mood and motivation, we have taken a step forward. It is interesting that you have a film like Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara that does humungous business while in the same zone, we have a Singham that does extremely well too. And we have a Bodyguard post that. It is amazing that two genres co-exist and still make money. Now everyone is going back to the single-screen space. We have all woken up to the power of the single screen. According to me, the single-screen was always powerful. It was always there. It was just that they were denied content for nearly ten years.

Now they are back in action, and in a big way. Suddenly, you feel that national business has re-energised.

There was a shift a while ago. There was a shift that these films don’t work overseas and are not lucrative. That is not true any more. Today, if you can cater nationally, you don’t need the overseas market. The important thing is to keep quality alive. 3 Idiots achieved both. Two hundred-plus crore net business is possible when you make a great film that appeals to all and I think that is few and far between, and that is to do with the tremendous talent of Raju Hirani’s writing power. That is not impossible and is still out there. The extent of the business is humungous. It is really humungous.

Dilwale Dhulaniya Le Jayenge (DDLJ) opened the overseas market in 1995. Dil To Pagal Hai (DTPH) and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai(KKHH) reinforced that. 1995 was a big year and it took over the overseas market in a big way. In 1994, Rajshree Productions took a bold step and decided not to release the VHS. You know, in those days, VHS released in the same week. For the first time, they actually stopped the VHS and opened the overseas market in a little way. But DDLJ and KKHH completely opened up the overseas market and showed us the strength of what it can be. From then on, there was a huge demand in the overseas market.

But we overlooked the potential of our own country. I think we denied it. We did not understand that there was actually a business that could be humungous in India if only we focused on that kind of content. Suddenly, everybody wanted to make a hipper and cooler alternative cinema, which is fine, you can do that.

But our core strength is definitely domestic business. And we should not run away from it. Not all kinds of films can appeal to single-screen sensibilities. You can achieve both if you really want to. It really should not be forced. Like Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara earned 90 crore net business and is totally urban in its approach and did huge business.

You can make masala movies but when you stop giving it quality, it does not work. It has to be shot brilliantly. It has to have star power. Hit music. Compact, good story-telling. That genre can never fail.

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