ENTERTAINMENT HAS NO GENRE
SINCERE EFFORTS TO PROVIDE ENTERTAINMENT WILL ONLY WORK
By Anil Nagrath
Films as we know them have always been divided into various genres like action, romance, comedy, festival and intellectual films and at different times, we have seen different genres succeed due to which we start films indiscriminately of the genre which has hit the bull’s eye
on the box-office. Like the success of Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Neerja, Airlift, Mary Kom, has set the ball rolling as far as biopics are concerned and now, in the recent future, we are going to face a barrage of such biopics like Traffic, Sarabjit, Rangoon, Azhar, Dhoni-The Untold Story, which are being made just because some biopics have worked without giving a thought to whether the story deserves to be told or not.
We should never forget that enough is enough and the audience cannot be taken for granted anymore as they are exposed to international cinema, as well as all local, linguistic cinema by virtue of the internet due to which they can watch whatever they want, wherever they want and on the device that they want. The proliferation of mobile phones turning into smart phone phobia is resulting in an explosion in the market of entertainment because nobody is interested in watching boring and repetitive news, on the mobile but everybody wants a dose of entertainment of his choice. Unfortunately all filmmakers in their obsession to make a genre based film forget the basic requirement of entertainment of the ticket buyer, who is spending his hard-earned money to find some release from the tensions and tortures of his daily life. To expect such a man to buy a ticket for a film based in a prison or a hospital, just because it happened to some unfortunate people in their lives, is in my view, not something deserving of being made into a film. These incidents have already been highlighted in the daily news which are broadcast 24 x 7, and when these incidents happened they were in the news for days. Hence where is the novelty and what new can you say in the film?
The audience is very clearly on the side of different entertainment without a thought about the genre, which is why if we go through the list of various hit films since the beginning of the film industry, we will find that the films have succeeded because they have been good and not because they were of a particular genre. Recently, the biggest hit of Hollywood so far in India and which continues its journey towards making more and more money all over the world including India, is The Jungle Book- a film of which all the language versions are continuing to run in the cinema halls even in the fifth week- a feat even Hindi films are not able to touch. Most star-cast films have shelf life of three weeks if successful and normally of one week out of which also only the first weekend matters and second week is almost, a written-off story. In such circumstances, the breath taking success of The Jungle Book, all over the country and the world, to the extent that in its fifth week, all its combined language versions, have more screen presence than all the new Hindi films like Traffic, One Night Stand and 1920-London, and is only slightly lesser than the new Hollywood film, Captain America: Civil War, whose 3D English version only has a good presence on cinema screens, whereas its Hindi version has hardly one or two shows per screen
This proves that the fear that English cinema will take over the space of Indian cinema, is not really true because unless they start making The Jungle Book, one after the other, the so-called Amercian sci-fi heroes, will work only in the English language which thanks to the apathetic policy of education in our country, will only be limited to a certain educated class of people and will never form a sizeable audience enough to threaten the existence of Hindi cinema. Everybody expected Captain America: Civil War to continue the blazing trail that was set up by Fast and Furious and taken to unlimited heights by The Jungle Book but unfortunately due to appeal only for the English cinema audience, it will never be able to be called a major hit.
Today, a hit does not depend on any star or any genre because what people want is something different and if you are going to rely on a genre or a star-based film, you are barking up the wrong alley. We have to understand that the audience has changed and what used to be a medium of entertainment for the middle-aged, has now been totally taken over and reserved by the audience in the age of 15-35 years and that too majorly female audience, which have started frequenting the cinemas in large numbers. This is because earlier cinema halls were badly maintained and security as well as toilets, were a major issue for women. With the advent of luxurious multiplexes, cinema going has become the favourite pastime of most women including my own wife and daughter, who prefer spending a day at the multiplex and mall rather than staying at home.
As filmmakers, if we want to tap this audience, we have to shed our inertia and wake up to the realities of life because no longer can we make what we want because the people very clearly know what they want. Unless we give them what they want, we will never succeed and that is why we should concentrate on making films like Queen, Tanu Weds Manu Returns, Kapoor & Sons, Ki & Ka, Neerja, Airlift and others, which films were as different from each other as chalk is from cheese and which worked primarily because they were good films, which entertained everybody and no other reason. We have to forget the beaten path and stop watching old films for inspiration and trying to copy them for enticing artistes to work in the film. Instead we should spend our energies and time on trying to locate new subjects which will appeal to this new youthful audience which is most intolerant and which does not have even a minute for something that they don’t like as they are used to and have 24 hours unlimited choice of entertainment available to them. Anything will attract their attention only if it is extraordinary and out of the ordinary as they are very choosy but if we want to succeed, we have to please them. So go ahead without caring about the genre if you want to make a good film and succeed.