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Film Making Centres of India

admin   September 14, 2020

India is probably the world’s most culturally and linguistically diverse nation. Its people speak 22 different languages, besides hundreds of dialects. No wonder then that India is a land of many cinematic traditions. The 1800-odd movies that the country annually produces are made in a number of languages, each with its own distinct literature, history, theatre and music.

Indian films are produced in several centres around the country. Each of these filmmaking cities serves as the hub of cinema in one prominent language.

Mumbai, regarded as India’s movie capital, hosts the Hindi film industry that has a pan-Indian footprint. Marathi-language films are also produced in the city (besides neighbouring Pune) that is inextricably intertwined with the history of Indian cinema.

Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Bangalore, Bhubaneswar and Guwahati are the other major Indian cities where films are produced.

While the distribution of these so-called ‘regional’ films is largely limited within the territories for which they are made – they do not have the nationwide reach of Bollywood blockbusters – they add immensely to the depth and range of Indian cinema.

MUMBAI, Maharashtra

The centre-point of Indian film industry, Mumbai, popularly Bollywood, is a land of cinema. From commercial grandeur to arthouse movies, there is no short of cinema in the capital city of Maharashtra

The bustling western Indian metropolis is the heart of the Indian movie industry, producing nearly 200 films a year in the Hindi language. It also, along with the nearby city of Pune, produces Marathi-language films, which, in the silent era and beyond, thrived in the hands of pioneering stalwarts like V Shantaram and Bhalji Pendharkar, among others. A large chunk of the Hindi films produced in Mumbai constitute what is usually described as Bollywood, a label used for an old cinematic tradition built on a formulaic and crowd-pleasing mix of melodrama, romance, moral conflict and music. This extravagant form of storytelling is extremely popular in the other filmmaking centres as well. However, it is by no means the only kind of cinema that emerges from Mumbai.

The city has always had two distinct streams of filmmaking – one aimed at providing glitzy and emotionally satisfying entertainment to the masses; the other designed to appeal to a niche audience with a taste for more realistic movies. There have of course been occasions when these two separate approaches have merged in the same film and resulted in timeless classics such as Mother India, Mughal-e-Azam, Deewar and Lagaan. The A-list Mumbai cinema stars, objects of adulation around the country and by the Indian Diaspora, power the mainstream Bollywood industry. Mumbai played a key role in the evolution of parallel films in the late 1960s and 1970s,thanks to the efforts of directors like Shyam Benegal and Govind Nihalani. Its filmmakers also drove the global spread of the Bollywood narrative idiom in the aftermath of major commercial successes in the past decade and a half. A breed of younger Mumbai filmmakers, migrants to the city from different parts of the country, have scripted a new kind of popular cinema that blends social awareness, aesthetic clarity and stylistic accessibility. Several of these films have travelled to international festivals in recent years while finding takers on the domestic distribution circuit as well.

CHENNAI

Located down south of India, Chennai is the birthplace of Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada film industries. While the last three moved to their respective neighbouring states, Tamil movies continue to be made in this city, thus making it a sought after destination of movie making in the country

Chennai (formerly Madras) is home to the hugely successful and productive Tamil movie industry, which has, over the decades, given Indian cinema a few of its biggest and most abiding stars. The Tamil movie industry has seen film production since the mid 1910s. It has constantly kept pace with the growth of the rest of Indian cinema. In fact, at several junctures in its history, it even set the pace for others to follow, especially in matters of technology and film production practices. Tamil cinema has a following not only in the state of Tamil Nadu but also in the other southern states of India, besides among the Tamil expatriate community across the world. Hindi versions of Tamil box office hits as well as bilingual productions mounted in Chennai have been successful around India ever since 1948’s Chandralekha opened the sluice-gates for nationally distributed films from this part of India.

The dominant strain of Tamil movies, like that of Hindi popular cinema, hinges on the crowd-pulling power of its male superstars, notably veterans Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan. A new generation of stars have continued the tradition. But in the past as well as in recent times, the industry has seen a steady output of films from young directors working outside the conventional star system with great success. For audiences around the country, Mani Ratnam, who also makes films in Hindi, is one of the better known Chennai directors.

KOLKATA

Kolkata has given the world some of the best movies and filmmakers. Right from the black and white era, Bengali films carried the stamp of reality and social awareness, and the flag still flies high.

Bengali-language cinema, known the world over for the celebrated masterpieces of Satyajit Ray, is produced in Kolkata from studios located largely in Tollygunge in the city’s southern suburbs.

Many of the pioneers of early Indian cinema worked in this city in the silent era. In fact, Hiralal Sen is known to have made films here well before India’s officially recognized first full-fledged fiction film, D.G. Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra, was screened in Mumbai. Commercial Bengali cinema has thrived right since the silent era, barring a few troughs in the 1980s and 1990s caused by the death of its most luminous superstar Uttam Kumar and the retirement of his on-screen partner Suchitra Sen.But it is for the critically acclaimed works of three masters – Ray, Ritwik Ghatak and Mrinal Sen – that Kolkata enjoys global fame. Directors such as Tapan Sinha and Tarun Majumdar built their careers around films that struck a fine balance between artistic merit and commercial potential.

More than their counterparts in any of the other film production centres of India, screenwriters and directors in Kolkata, especially those that work in the non-mainstream sphere, continue to draw inspiration primarily from literature. It is a tradition that dates back to the silent era, a period during which Bengali cinema, unlike other cinemas that were beginning to take roots in that period, produced social satires and dramas adapted from literary works rather than mythological epics.

HYDERABAD

Not just the land, but its films too are known for their spicy nature. It will be no exaggeration if we call Hyderabad the capital of commercial cinema. For, most of India’s colourful and costly movies are made here.

Hyderabad is the hub of Telugu cinema, which is one of the most prolific and commercially consistent of all the cinemas of India. Between Telengana and Andhra Pradesh, the two separate states that the erstwhile united Andhra Pradesh has recently been split into, there are 2800 movie halls, the highest in any single region of India. On several occasions in the last decade, Telugu films accounted for more releases in a year than cinema in any other Indian language, including Hindi. Many big-budget Hindi and Tamil films are official remakes of Telugu hits, a sure measure of the mass appeal of movies made in Hyderabad. In terms of artistic quality and global recognition, Telugu cinema may lag behind films made in Malayalam and Tamil, but it continues to be the most robust of the southern industries.Hyderabad has some of India’s best film production studios. They have been set up by established names of the Telugu movie industry – men such as B. N. Reddy, L.V. Prasad, Akkineni Nageswara Rao and D. Rama Naidu. Until about three decades ago, large sections of the Telugu movie industry operated out of Chennai. But today, Hyderabad is where all the Telugu cinema action is focused. Filmmmaker S.S. Rajamouli and male stars such as Prabhas enjoy nationwide popularity thanks mainly to the super success of the period action drama Baahubali.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

Known for producing award winning films, Thiruvananthapuram, the hub of Malayalam cinema, is lately carving a niche for itself for new-age content-rich and commercial movies. From Adoor Gopalakrishnan to Mohanlal-Mammootty to Vineeth-Nivin Pauly, the land has a rich legacy of cinema

Thiruvananthapuram (formerly Trivandrum) is the capital of the southern Indian state of Kerala. The city, along with Kochi, serves as the nerve-centre of cinema in Malayalam. Although films were made in the state in the silent era, cinema in Kerala was late to flourish and at the time of India’s Independence in 1947, only a handful of Malayalam filmshad been produced. But when the movie industry in this part of the country took off in the 1950s, it not only quickly caught up with the rest of Indian cinema, it also established itself at the forefront of the Indian parallel cinema movement. Malayalam movie superstars Mohanlal and Mammootty are known across the country and directors such as Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Shaji N. Karun and the late G. Aravindan are feted at film festivals around the world.

When Malayalam cinema began to assume the proportions of a full-fledged industry post-Independence, it was headquartered in Chennai. It was only by the late 1980s that it moved completely to its current location in Thiruvananthapuram. Like the other cinemas of India, Malayalam movies are divided between a popular genre and a socially relevant strand. Cinema from Kerala gained national and international prominence, riding on the films made by Adoor and Aravindan in the 1970s and 1980s. The tradition of making realistic and meaningful cinema continues to this day.

BENGALURU

The capital city of Karnataka is the home of Kannada film industry, popularly Sandalwood. It has produced some great talents, from actors to directors to technicians

In Bangalore, India’s Silicon Valley, films are made in the Kannada language. The first Kannada film was made in the talkie era, and the industry’s growth was steady until the late 1940s. The 1950s marked the advent of Dr.Rajkumar, whose popularity as a lead actor in mythological epics helped Kannada cinema achieve new heights. The 1970s and 1980s are generally regarded as the golden era of Kannada cinema, which was enriched by the work of directors like B.V.Karanth, Girish Karnad and Girish Kasaravalli. In 1970, Samskara, based on a novel by celebrated writer U.R. Ananthamurthy and directed by Pattabhi Rama Reddy, inaugurated the parallel cinema movement in Karnataka. While alternative cinema has continued to thrive in the state, commercial cinema, too, has sustained itself despite not quite enjoying the financial clout of Tamil and Telugu films.

LUCKNOW, Uttar Pradesh

Bhojpuri cinema, which also caters to third and fourth generation migrants in Surinam, Mauritius, Trinidad & Tobago, Fiji and Guyana, has its own star system and a committed audience base

The central Indian city of Lucknow is one of the bases of Bhojpuri cinema, which is produced largely in and for eastern Uttar Pradesh, western Bihar and Jharkhand. The first-ever Bhojpuri-language film, Ganga Maiyya Tohe Piyari Chadaibo (Mother Ganges, I Will Offer You a Yellow Sari), was released only in the early 1960s. But the industry grew steadily as the demand from people who speak the dialect in India and elsewhere increased. Bhojpuri cinema, which also caters to third and fourth generation migrants in Surinam, Mauritius, Trinidad & Tobago, Fiji and Guyana, has its own star system and a committed audience base, but it has failed to build on the opportunities to break into the national mainstream. The last couple of decades have seen a major spurt in the production of Bhojpuri films, but these have all been run-of-the-mill potboilers designed for an audience that seems to be undemanding and easy to please. In parts of India where Bhojpuri speakers live and work, these films continue to be exceedingly popular. But since most of these films are made on tight budgets and follow rushed production timelines, they tend to be rather low on technical finesse.

BHUBANESWAR

The shift of Odia cinema from Kolkata to Bhubaneswar heralded a new era. Since then, Bhubaneswar continues to be the focus point of Odia films

In the eastern Indian state of Odisha, films are made in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack.

The first Odia-language film was made in 1936, but until the 1950s only a handful of more titles were produced. Back then, the Odia film industry did not have production facilities of its own. Films in the language had to depend on Kolkata, which made movie-making in Odisha difficult and unviable.

In the late 1950s, the first cooperative venture to produce, distribute and exhibit Odia films was set up by Krushna Chandra Tripathy. The organization was named Utkal Chalachitra Pratisthan, and it produced several films in the 1960s that gave Odia cinema a distinct identity.

In 1961, another production house, Pancha Sakha, was set up by amateur artiste Dhira Biswal, who produced four hugely popular films. His first production, Nua Bou, created a sensation all across the state of Odisha.

Odia cinema developed its own idiom in subsequent years thanks to the efforts of the husband-wife team of Gour Prasad Ghosh and Parbati Ghosh. The duo produced several National Award-winning films, including the epochal Kaa.

Other production houses took roots in the 1970s, including Diamond Valley Productions, set up by entrepreneur Sarat Pujari.

In 1975, the state government stepped in to promote cinema by setting up the Odisha Film Development Corporation. Five years later, the Kalinga Studio came up with the support of Chennai’s Prasad Studios. Odisha currently produces an average of 20 films a year.

ASSAM

Despite heavy influence from Bollywood, Assamese cinema, being made from Guwahati, has carved a niche for itself and its presence in National Awards every year stands testimony to the claim

Assamese films, produced in north-eastern city of Guwahati, are a constant presence in India’s National Awards. Yet the film industry in Assam remains commercially unviable.

Constantly under the shadow of Bollywood films, the state has not been able to develop a distribution and exhibition system that can prop up locally made films and make them viable.

At the turn of the millennium, a ray of hope had emerged in the form of a spurt in Bollywood-inspired Assamese melodrama that found takers among the mass audience in the state. But the trend was short-lived.

Despite the effort of the pioneers and the work of their successors in the 1950s and 1960s (Bhupen Hazarika, Nip Barua, Pudum Barua), Assamese cinema has been dragged down by the paucity of exhibition outlets.

Despite all the odds, the names of the late author and filmmaker Bhabendra Nath Saikia and the still-active Jahnu Barua shine bright. In recent years, Rima Das, working largely out of her native village near Guwahati, has made massive waves globally with her films Village Rockstars and Bulbul Can Sing.

Filmmakers from the rest of Northeast India, notably Manipur and Meghalaya, are also increasingly making their presence felt on the national and international stage. Manipur’s Aribam Syam Sarma has for decades been a leading light of cinema from this region of India and his films have been lauded at festivals, including Cannes.


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Striking the Right Chord

admin   August 18, 2020

Janhvi Kapoor in and as Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl in Netflix biopic is the talk of the town today By Poornima Bajwa Sharma

In the aftermath of the Coronavirus pandemic, people across the world have been left with no other choice but to adapt to the ‘new normal’.Like many other sectors,the film industry too is trying to findnew avenuesto survive and flourish by showcasing engaging stories and new talent, and keeping the masses entertained and spirited in these uncertain times.

So, while watching movies on big screens seems to be a distant dream for cine lovers for now, the rise of OTT platforms has saved the day. All the biggies, which were slated to hit the cinemas this year, are now being streamed on digital platforms. One such flick is Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl, starring Janhvi Kapoor. The film was released on Netflix on August 12. The movie has opened to rave reviews with fans and industry people going gaga over the film’s plot, acting and strong direction.

Janhvi plays the part of Gunjan Saxena, who is one of the first female pilots to fly in a combat situation, and played an important role in rescuing injured soldiers during the Kargil War of 1999. She was awarded the gallantry Shaurya Vir Award for displaying courage during the war.

The actress is being lauded for her acting prowess and doing justice to the strong character that she played. While Anurag Kashyap hailed debutant director Sharan Sharma movie for not adhering to “fake patriotism and jingoism”, Tahira Kashyap shed “tears of pride” on watching the film.

Anurag Kashyap took to Twitter to praise the film, especially Sharan. “It’s so amazing and refreshing to see a “coming of age of the Indian armed forces” disguised as a war movie. No fake patriotism, no unnecessary jingoism … well done team #GunjanSaxenaTheKargilGirl. Super performances, writing but what a brilliant new director #SharanSharma,” he tweeted.

Another notable filmmaker and writer Tahira Kashyap watched the film on the day of its release and wrote on Twitter: “What a beautiful film.Tears of pride. #GunjanSaxena #JanhviKapoor is so endearing @Imangadbedichhagaye @TripathiiPankajkamaal ho aap! Such lovely performances! Congratulations #SharanSharma loved every bit of the film especially Janhvi.”

Emerging Victorious in Testing Times

At a time when there has been a nationwide debate simmering over nepotism in Bollywood and ‘starkids’ getting priority over ‘outsiders’ who dreamto make it big in the industry, Janhvi and her film had a huge battle to win before they could win the hearts of viewers. And the film has managed to do so by riding on the back of quality content and Janhvi’s excellent acting skills.

This is Janhvi’s second project since she made her debut in Bollywood with the film Dhadak in 2018. Directed by Shashank Khaitan and produced by Dharma Productions, the film was a remake of Marathi blockbuster Sairat and also starred Ishan Khattar. Janhvi grabbed eyeballs and bagged Zee Cine Award for Best Female Debut.

By setting the cash registers ringing, Dhadak set the stage right for Janhvi with directors taking notice of her talent.

What does the future hold?

After Gunjan Saxena, Janhvi will next be seen in projects like Roohi Afzana, Dostana 2 and Takhat.

The actress has already started the shooting of Dostana 2in Amritsar, where she will be working opposite Kartik Aryan.

Besides promising Hindi films in hand, Janhvi is also making her mark in the ad world and fashion magazines. The actress is also upbeat about regional cinema and is looking forward to do some great work down south too.

“I feel that a lot of regional work in general, that is not necessarily mainstream, is churning out so much amazing work and performances because I don’t think they have the pressure of commercials as much (as Bollywood),” she says.

She also said that it’s her dream to work in a South film. “My playlist on my phone is just music from the South. It’s a dream of mine to star in a Mani Ratnam film with no make-up, donning a white choli and dancing in the waterfall to an AR Rahman track.”

Dealing with competition and contemporaries

Janhvi, who is very close to her actor-cousin Arjun Kapoor, entered the industry at a time when there was a very strong competition from starkids and young girls like Saara Ali Khan, Ananya Pandey, Suhana Khan and Tara Sutaria. However, Janhvi is all praises for the girls and feels no competition from them.”I think all these girls are really beautiful and they all have their own individuality. They must be having lots of positives which other people might not have so, we should celebrate that,” she says.

In fact, she wants every girl to chase their dreams and believe in oneself. “I think they should do exactly that. Every woman has a different journey and they should be proud of their own journey. They don’t need to follow anyone because no two things can ever be the same,” she says.

Besides films, Janhvi has always hogged the limelight for her fashion sense and style statements. The young lady has been the favourite of paparazzi, and has been clicked flaunting stylish gym, airport and casual avatars. The actress has also made heads turn with stunning party looks as well.


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Content is king for Saregama’s Yoodlee

admin   July 21, 2020

Like how it did for music with Carvaan some years ago, Saregama is now changing the game of content creation with Yoodlee Films. Targeting the 18- 30 age group, the banner caters to the inherent need of the audience to watch strong thematic content

At a time when big Bollywood studios are staring at a hard road to recovery in the coming years, thanks to the damage caused by Covid-19, Saregama India is trying to redefine movie-making.

Like how it did for music with Carvaan some years ago, Saregama is now changing the game of content creation with Yoodlee Films. Targeting the 18-30 age group, the banner caters to the inherent need of the audience to watch strong thematic content.

To get an idea of Yoodle, read this description from its website: “We understand Irreverence; and swear by it. challenge the status quo, we question the old assumptions. Our audiences don’t wish to escape their life, but rather revel in it. We bring filmed entertainment that holds up a mirror to real life, distorting it sometimes, magnifying it other times. This is entertainment in the era of the selfie.”

Well, Yoodle’s films are driven by powerful stories, and not by stars. Its core commitment is: “We bring a heightened sense of realism to our films: shot in real locations, with sync sound, on the best camera technology available. All films are within 120 minutes. Our films will be made available to our audiences on any screen they wish to view them on. We present our audiences with cinema that matters.”

Living to its commitment, the production house has come out with 13 films in less than three years. Since its inception in 2017, Yoodlee Films has roped in new, independent filmmakers and licensed 10 films to Netflix and three to Hotstar as originals.

Vikram Mehra, managing director of Saregama India, believes that the unique model of Saregama’s film division—Yoodlee Films—is also most amenable for these constrained circumstances. It has the potential to redefine how films are planned, produced and budgeted.

“From the start, we were clear we wanted to make films for a digital audience. Now is the best time for the company to grow,” says Mehra.

Content is king and Mehra understands it better than anyone else.”Yoodlee is a writer’s studio. The only person who gets an entry in the Saregama office as far as films are concerned is the writer with a script,” he says.

And, while the film industry is being blamed as unorganised, Yoodlee has a well-defined plan for its actions. “Calls are taken on new scripts in 90 days after evaluation by a core group of 17 script readers from diverse backgrounds. Films under the Yoodlee banner are ready in nine months. And 30 per cent of the profits are shared with the writers,” says Mehra. Yoodlee is certainly on the right, or write, path.


No Easy Walk to Stardom

admin   July 20, 2020

Celebrities are hot air balloons, which often reach dizzy height but in a matter of time fall ingloriously into deep abysses of oblivion by Amit Khanna

It’s a magical world. Where you come chasing a dream and then see it come true. You walk in with nothing but guts and grit or a bagful of talent. From anonymity to applause all it takes is one hit. From dingy PG digs to a swanky apartment is a matter of months. From local train to limo the ride is one helluva rollercoaster with more uphill thrills than downhill slides.

This is for the lucky few. The rest wallow in a half-forgotten existence. But these are the rules of fame and you enter knowing the odds. Don’t blame the other players or even the bystanders. When you play this roulette of celebrityhood you know your chances of winning are slim and even if you win one round you may lose the next.

When a million are out competing for the spotlight, a handful will make it eventually. Unlike what some believe and others talk, your dad can get you to sit on this carousel of success but it’s the audience which turns the wheel. The lineage just puts you in the inside lane but in this race it is often the outsider who surprises you with her performance. Gossip columns and sound bites get you a mention or more. It is the ‘public’ which is the arbiter of success at the box office. This makes the journey from the sidewalk to the marquee tough, tiresome and tardy. It’s not for the weak-kneed or fainthearted. Legends are made of those who have travelled this route triumphantly.

Entertainment is as much about art as it is about commerce. As far a studio goes, they are in the business of entertainment and incidentally except for one two or three all, Studio heads today are professionals with no family linkage  

I have spent over five decades in showbiz. My family never had or has any connection with the media. There was no attempt to ever derail my progress nor did any of the so-called Bollywood (incidentally a word coined by me) establishment ever sabotage my career. Many before me and after me have made it not because they inherited fame and success or had the Industry lineage. Like in any field in media and entertainment there are second or third generation (occasionally even fourth) actors, producers, directors, writers, technicians, musicians, singers, journalists, photographers, media owners and others who perhaps follow their parents’ calling. As do politicians, sportspersons, corporates, business heads teachers, scientists, doctors, engineers, architects or even masons, carpenters, tailors and farmers, who enter a vocation because someone in the immediate family did earlier and made it perhaps a little easier for them to follow.

However, for every one such family-driven success there are a dozen who achieved success by themselves. Media and entertainment history of a list of achievers who came from outside and the failures from within the Industry. Almost the entire group of offbeat and middle cinema are and have always been “non-family”. Eighty per cent of directors, composers, writers and singers and 90 per cent of technicians are first-timers who came, struggled and made it on their own. Stardom and failure don’t distinguish between caste or creed, insider or stranger.

I am not saying no one is exploited or abused here. Some are, and one’s heart and goes out to them.

Another myth is Bollywood has camps. What camps? A producer or a director or even a star can surely decide who he or she wants to work with. It’s their project, their money, their convenience. Entertainment is as much about art as it is about commerce. As far a studio goes, they are in the business of entertainment and incidentally except for one two or three all, Studio heads today are professionals with no family linkage.

From dingy PG digs to a swanky apartment is a matter of months. From local train to limo the ride is one helluva rollercoaster with more uphill thrills than downhill slides

Businesses succeed when their product is well made, well marketed and well received and not when they play favorites. I have headed two studios in the past 30 years in which we gave breaks to hundreds of newcomers irrespective of where they came from. I have personally been a bridge for many to several whenever they have encountered storms professionally and to a few in their personal lives as well. A number of people who are big names across ideological and creative divide will vouch for this. A number of past and present colleagues are not only still in touch but are often ready to lend a shoulder to cry in your hours of need. Half-truths, heresay, fact and fiction are interwoven seamlessly into a larger than life tapestry of innuendo, doubt and bias. We forget what we call film industry is an amorphous blend of stars, strugglers, media magnates, indie filmmakers, writers and musicians and a million of others.

Let’s look at the top 50 breakthrough films of the last 20 years and you will find all of them were backed by one studio or another. Obviously, relationships, success and yes talent do queer the pitch for in showbiz but that’s true for any other profession. If you look at any studio’s filmography it will include a variety of artistes and others and different genres and budgeted films. I have headed various Industry organisations for decades and I can say with certainty that working conditions, wages and business is far better today than what it was a generation earlier. There is a certain fraternal feeling which still exists. Even in the present crisis this industry was the first to mobilise resources to help daily wage earners. Sure, not everyone has been taken care of but the intent is there. Today insurance and other benefits are available to a large percentage of people involved in this Industry. Indeed, more still needs to be done.

Show Business is a cruel business. It picks up nobodies and catapults them to the stratosphere. Amidst stars, money, fame, adulation. Then for no reason it just takes it all away. Spits out the very icons it creates. Those who have savoured success for extended periods face the same dilemma of emptiness when their play is over. No more party invites, no more mahurats and premieres. No more call sheets. No more work. Forgotten, forsaken, lonely and lost some break more and quicker. So is the case anywhere else where your fame turns its face away. How many painters, performing artistes, authors and artisans have faced similar crisis?

Eighty per cent of directors, composers, writers and  singers and 90 per cent of technicians are first-timers who came, struggled and made it on their own. Stardom and failure don’t distinguish between caste or creed, insider or stranger  

In the last five decades I have seen the marquee drop names with an alacrity that is ruthless. I have seen the tinsel lose its lustre. Limelight turning a hazy yellow like aging cellophane. Stars turned applause junkies writhing in the pain of withdrawal symptoms. Some fortunate ones change their trajectory and move to the small screen and some find solace on streaming platforms. Some who invested wisely wallow amidst nostalgia in relative comfort. Irrelevance is the most hurtful truth, which afflicts 80 per cent of the film people in the twilight of their lives. Time just makes reining czars disappear in the dark void of failure and oblivion. Heartthrobs and creative artistes face heartbreak and manic depressions. These scene-stealers lie forgotten, sometimes dusted and brought out at obscure award functions and handed trophies as a token gesture. More often lying in the deep abyss of digital archives with their work sprouting sporadically on the vast TV channelscape or Google searches of an eager scholar. It is for them to have an insurance in place emotionally and yes financially always handy.

We are living in a moment economy. Every moment counts. In hyper networked society noise levels are so high that celebrity hunters are going to the extreme to attain their two minutes in sunshine. We always walk the edge. We are easily susceptible to hurt, anxiety, depression, euphoria or even death. No one has yet figured out the safeguards or even the perils of stardom. Celebrities are hot air balloons, which often reach dizzy height but in a matter of time fall ingloriously into deep abysses of oblivion. As writer Michael Humphrey wrote in Forbes magazine a few months ago, Has Generation Famous changed the equation for fame and fandom? If the famous are, usually performing 24×7, the media reporting non-stop turns voyeurs and vultures at will. The hunter and the hunted keep switching places. A thin line differentiates the two. When privacy gives way to isolation, the filament breaks.

As a society, our ‘always on’ online presence is like walking the thin edge. We are easily susceptible to hurt, anxiety, depression, euphoria or even death. No one has yet figured out the safeguards or even the perils of stardom. The performers and their purveyors know the fragility of it all. Let us not keep shifting the blame when the focus shifts. We are all a part of this scenario.

A walk with the stars always ends on Sunset Boulevard my friend.

This column by Amit Khanna was originally published by IANS

Amit Khanna is media guru, poet, lyricist, writer, filmmaker and historian. His latest book Words, Sounds, Images (published by HarperCollins India) is ambitious and encyclopaedic in scope, a first-of-its- kind book that presents the history of media and entertainment in India – from the times of the Indus Valley Civilization right up to the twenty-first century


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Disney +Hotstar Leads the Disruption

admin   July 6, 2020

Though there is no doubt theatres will be winners as nothing in the world gives the joy of watching a movie on big screen, OTT has now become a new revenue making avenue for the film industry

Covid-19 has created a market which many OTT players were expecting only in 2023-24. In other words, the disruption has already begun in the Indian premium OTT space with Disney+ Hotstar announcing seven films to release on its platform.

Though there is no doubt theatres will be winners as nothing in the world gives the joy of watching a movie on big screen, OTT has now become a new revenue making avenue for the film industry.

“Producers who have already invested heavily in their films with theatrical revenue assumptions that are no longer feasible, will seek out all avenues available to recover their investment and to stay in business,” the Producers Guild of India had said in a statement last month.

Disney+ Hotstar is set to premiere seven Bollywood movies — which were originally slated for theatrical releases — from July 24 onwards, in a move that could intensify the battle between theatre owners and video streaming applications over movie releases.

These movies will be streamed between July and October this year, starting with late Sushant Singh Rajput-starrer ‘Dil Bechara’ on July 24. Other movies include Akshay Kumar-Kiara Advani’s ‘Laxmmi Bomb’, Alia Bhatt-Aditya Roy Kapur-starrer ‘Sadak 2’, Abhishek Bachchan’s ‘The Big Bull’, Vidyut Jammwal’s ‘Khuda Haafiz’, Ajay Devgn-Sanjay Dutt’s ‘Bhuj’ and Kunal Khemu’s ‘Lootcase’.

This comes after similar deals by rivals Amazon Prime Video that picked up seven Bollywood and regional films including Amitabh Bachchan-Ayushmann Khurrana’s ‘Gulabo Sitabo’ and Vidya Balan starrer ‘Shakuntala Devi’ for a direct-to-digital premiere and Netflix that picked up Janhvi Kapoor starrer ‘Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl’.

‘Dil Bechara’ will be the first movie to premiere on Disney+ Hotstar, and in a bid to “commemorate late Sushant Singh Rajput’s invaluable contribution to Hindi cinema,” this movie will be available to non-subscribers of Disney+ Hotstar as well, the company said. The movie also features Sanjana Sanghi and Saif Ali Khan.

“Today as we launch Disney+Hotstar Multiplex, we find ourselves yet again at the cusp of making a revolutionary change by bringing the biggest Bollywood movies directly to millions across the country… Theatres are a special experience. So, they will always exist and thrive. But the potential of the industry can’t be capped by the number of release windows and theatres available. Our initiative will dramatically increase the number of films that can be made, giving film-lovers more films to enjoy and the creative community more films to make. We firmly believe that this will generate a massive momentum for more and different kinds of films to be made in India. It’s a win-win for all,” said Uday Shankar, President, The Walt Disney Company APAC, and Chairman, Star & Disney India.

“In the future, theatres and OTT will move in parallel. Both options offer their own strengths,” said Ajay Devgn, who will be seen in Bhuj: The Pride of India.

Hotstar, the largest OTT player in the country after Jio (35.5 per cent market share) with over 30 per cent share of the market, continues to attract more audiences, compared to global leaders like Netflix (9.2 per cent) and Amazon Prime (14.8 per cent) in India.

This move comes at a time when the ~20,000-crore-a-year Indian film industry is badly hit by lockdown of multiplexes and single-screen theatres —leaving it with no other avenue but to try and monetise the OTT platform.

There is still uncertainty over when movie theatres will be allowed to reopen across the country, after they were forced to shutdown in March this year, due to the Covid-19-induced lockdown. While the government has eased restrictions for businesses across various sectors, it is yet to provide a specific date for reopening of cinema halls.

According to estimates, there are over 250-million OTT users in India. This number is expected to surpass 450 million by 2022.


Featured Post

Taapsee’s takes on OTT, Nepotism & Covid

admin   July 6, 2020

I welcome changes. But I am a very old school person where I enjoy watching films in theater with the community, says actress Taapsee Pannu, while talking about OTT and cinema halls at CII Delhi eConclave ‘Building Delhi for a New World’

The film fraternity is together in this (Covid-19) crisis. There are a lot of workers who depend on weekly wages and all of us have decided to take care of them till the time the economy gets back to normal. I believe that when things return to normal, people will flock the theatres again. You can’t replicate the theatre experience with streaming websites, says Taapsee Pannu.

While speaking on nepotism in the film industry, the actress, who is popular pan-India thanks to movies in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu, mentions that favouritism, being integral to human nature, will not go out of the industry and we cannot totally get rid of it.

“I also have that urge of going back to work because I’ve never had Monday blues. We don’t have weekend or weekday in our profession. I am finally looking to going to work knowing probably that I will be the last one going to work,” she says, at CII Delhi eConclave ‘Building Delhi for a New World’.

On Covid, the actress says, “We never believed that such a crisis will happen. I guess none of us have prepared for it. We are lucky enough that many of us still survive. But there are so many who have literally hand to mouth existence in terms of not just the labour workers, but people who earn per shoot or per day basis and, and those people I don’t think can survive beyond a few weeks. The industry did come together to raise funds and then help these people out in a lot of ways. Also migrant workers walking back home are painful insights of Covid.”

Talking about OTT and big cinema, Taapse says, “I welcome changes. But I am a very old school person where I enjoy watching films in theater with the community. Rarely do we see people just going alone to watch a film. The experience of going in a big dark hall and focusing all your energy on a huge screen can’t be replicated anywhere else. II was not an ardent OTT viewer before lockdown happened because an average film also will look good to me in a theatre. I enjoy watching films in theatre and really miss that. I have a firm belief that when things get back to the old normal, not the new normal, I think everybody is going to rush to theater to have that experience with all safety norms. OTT platform is good as a temporary fix.”


Stars of a Parallel Sky

admin   February 21, 2020

Mainstream Bollywood is on the cusp of change with the rise of a parallel cinematic universe that uses the means and resources of the industry while making films that are akin to the social chronicles and cautionary tales that emerge from a more independent space By Saibal Chatterjee

A parallel universe has taken a concrete shape in mainstream Bollywood. It is defined by the work of directors and actors who work within the mass-oriented Hindi cinema but, in their films, address issues and themes of contemporary relevance in a manner that generates serious conversation and attracts ample media and audience attention.

Exactly one such Bollywood release is scheduled for February 28. Thappad, directed by Anubhav Sinha (Mulk, Article 15) and starring Taapsee Pannu, deals with a woman’s right to fight off domestic violence in a conservative society.

Sinha and Pannu, who played an important role in the former’s Mulk, a film revolving around the impact of Islamophobia on unquestioning minds, have both carved a niche for themselves by delivering stories that confront prickly subjects in a manner that facilitates engagement with wider audiences.

The duo represents a segment of Bollywood that uses the means and resources of the industry but makes films that are akin to the social chronicles and cautionary tales that emerge from a more independent space. Their upcoming collaboration, Thappad, is about a woman who walks out on her marriage when her husband slaps her. Sinha is a Mumbai film director who devoted more than a decade and a half to making romantic dramas (Tum Bin and its sequel), thrillers (Dus, Thathastu and Cash) and a superhero film starring Shahrukh Khan (Ra. One). In 2018, he reinvented himself with Mulk, about a Muslim family in an Uttar Pradesh town struggling to clear its name when one of its younger members is drawn into a terror plot.

In 2019, Sinha made the hard-hitting Article 15, which told the story of a young police officer who is posted in a town where caste discrimination is rampant. Three girls go missing and the protagonist is sucked into a world where the weak and oppressed are also completely defenceless as a result of deeply ingrained social prejudices of those that wield political and administrative power.

The role of the cop in Article 15 is played by Ayushmann Khurrana, who
has achieved stardom on the back of a series of roles that border on the revolutionary in the context of popular Hindi cinema. The actor made his film debut in 2012 with Vicky Donor, directed by Shoojit Sircar. Khurrana played a sperm donor, a character unheard of in Hindi cinema.

After a few misfires, the actor began a phase that has seen him, among other things, play the husband of an overweight woman in Dum LagaKe- Haisha, a man with erectile dysfunction in Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, a youngster grappling with a bald pate, and a blind pianist who ‘witnesses’ a murder in Andhadhun.

In Shubh Mangal ZyaadaSaavdhan, the follow-up to Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, Khurrana dons the garb a small-town middle-class boy who causes a stir by coming out as gay and bringing his partner home. So, there we are: a whole new world is opening up in the pan-Indian Hindi cinema on account of actors and directors who are willing to take risks.

Shoojit Sircar, who directed Khurrana in Vicky Donor, also gave Taapsee- Pannu a role that changed the course of her career. The film was the intense legal drama Pink, featuring Amitabh Bachchan as an ageing, cynical lawyer who comes out of retirement to represent three young women subjected to sexual violence after a rock concert. It was produced by Sircar.

A Bollywood director who has made a career out of dark thrillers, Sriram Raghavan has never lowered his guard in the matter of keeping his output free from dog-eared devices. He helmed one of 2018’s most acclaimed Bollywood thrillers, Andhadhun, which arrived virtually unheralded and went on to acquire a cult following.

A decade ago, Raghavan delivered Johnny Gaddar, a stylized crime thriller that remains a benchmark for the genre. In 2015, he made the subversive thriller Badlapur, about a man who lies in wait for years for a criminal who killed his wife and child in a random act of violence.

Also working in mainstream Bollywood but with a distinct slant towards the real and tangible is AshwinyIyer Tiwari. She has directed three Hindi films to date – Nil BatteySannata, Bareilly Ki Barfi and Panga. Each one of them has struck a chord without having to resort to potboiler conventions.

Bareilly Ki Barfi, a romantic drama set in a specific small-town milieu, saw Ayushmann Khurrana lock horns with an actor who has a niche all his own – Rajkummar Rao. Rao, a regular Hansal Mehta collaborator, has built up an impressive body of work since debuting ten years ago with Dibakar Banerjee’s Love Sex AurDhokha.

With Mehta, Rao has delivered two of his finest performances – in Shahid, which fetched him a National Award, and Aligarh, a film in which he held is own against a superlative Manoj Bajpayee.

Together, these directors and actors have created a space where Bollywood explores themes and ideas that are far removed from easy certitudes that the industry usually peddles. They have lent Mumbai cinema an edge it never had before by erasing the line between commercial success and artistic courage.

Winds of Change

The ageing Bollywood superstars are nearing their sell-by dates. Their fan followings are intact, but are struggling to convince audiences that they are still young enough to play action heroes and romantic leads. With the goalposts having moved significantly, the likes of Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan are exploring fresh creative pastures.

Aamir Khan is the lead of Laal Singh Chaddha, an official remake of Forrest Gump (1994) directed by Advait Chandan. Shah Rukh Khan, on his part, hasn’t signed a film since 2018’s Zero. And Salman Khan, despite the below- par showing of several of his recent releases (notably Tubelight, Race 3 and Bharat) is sticking to his guns.

He seems to be continuing down the Dabangg path – the third installment of the franchise hit the screens in 2019 – with Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai, directed by Prabhudeva. Dabangg 3 was incidentally also helmed by Prabhudeva.

It is reported that Shahrukh has given the go-ahead to a script penned by Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK (writers of Amar Kaushik’s Stree and makers of Shor in the City and Go Goa Gone). So, has SRK seen the writing on the wall?

But even as winds of change sweep over the Mumbai industry, Akshay Kumar (Good Newzz), Ajay Devgn (Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior) and Hrithik Roshan (War) have delivered massive hits this past year. Bollywood is, therefore, being driven by contradictory impulses.

On one hand, films like Meghna Gulzar’s Chhapaak and Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s Panga earn critical accolades that do not necessarily translate into box office returns. On the other is the next Tiger Shroff vehicle, Baaghi 3, a high-octane actioner that will probably rake in big bucks.


Featured Post

Amit Khanna: The Renaissance Man

admin   December 13, 2019

It’s rare to find a successful poet, lyricist, writer, and filmmaker — all combined into one man. Amit Khanna, who has completed five decades in the Indian M&E industry with his career spanning all media verticals, has lived and played all these roles with relative ease. He is the man who coined the word Bollywood and steered the Indian media sector on the path of convergence. His new book —‘Words, Sounds, Images’ — traces the history of M&E in India from the Indus Valley Civilization till modern times. We dive deep into his mind to understand the past, present and future of the Indian Media

In a career spanning five decades, Amit Khanna overwhelmed the Indian Media and Entertainment industry with the sheer brilliance of his profundity and exceptional creative power as a producer, lyricist, writer, talent promoter and mentor for many preeminent personalities in show biz. As a torch-bearer of modern entertainment, he shares a great rapport owing to his intrepid entrepreneurship and prophetic vision of the future of M&E space. Becoming an executive producer, writer and lyricist with actor-film-maker Dev Anand’s Navketan Films in 1970 at the age of 21, he went on to set up India’s first integrated media and entertainment company Plus Channel in 1989, which served as a platform for many award-winning films. He is also the founder chairman of Reliance Entertainment (from 2000 to 2015), India’s leading studio. Under his leadership, Reliance Entertainment diversified into production, distribution and exhibition of films across formats, radio and TV broadcasting, direct-to-home TV, gaming and online content creation in India and abroad.

Besides serving as an important link between the government and the industry and helping shape the Media and Entertainment policy, he has also been on the governing councils of the Jamia Millia Islamia Media Research Centre, and the Film Institutes in Pune and Kolkata, as well as Whistling Woods. He was the first Indian to serve on the international Emmys Jury.

Amit Khanna is a man of many talents, and he has been a vociferous writer and opinion maker serving as an editorial adviser to The Economic Times, Probe, Take 2, Online, Super Cinema and many other publications of repute. There was a time when he was the sole person who would be quoted on important issues concerning the industry by reputed newspapers and magazines both in India and abroad. Having worked across every segment in the field of media—print, radio, television, films, stage, live entertainment and digital media, he continues to surprise us with his proficiency in Hindi, English and Urdu as a multi-lingual writer and poet.

His new book ‘Words Sounds Images’ encapsulates the 5,000 years old history of the media and entertainment in India, which is set to be a treat for scholars from across the world.

The book starts with an examination of the origins, looking at a wide array of aspects including the state of entertainment during Harappan and Vedic times, details from the Natyashastra, the early drama, music and dance of Kalidasa, the development of ragas, musical instruments and early folk traditions, the genesis of classical dance forms, developments through the ages, including in the Mughal period and in the southern kingdoms, in the northeast, and under the Marathas and the British. Independence onwards, ‘Words Sounds Image’ takes a decade-wise look at the evolution of newspapers, cinema, music, television, dance, theatre and radio. In an interaction with Pickle, he talks about his voluminous yet engaging work and its relevance in today’s India. Here are the excerpts from the interview…

You have written a history of Indian media and entertainment and not an autobiography?

Personally, I don’t want to write an autobiography because I am a very straight forward and honest person. Speaking honestly, ideals have clay feet in India, and I don’t want to hurt them because they have a certain image which may not be entirely true. These people are famous and very well respected and I don’t want to hurt their feelings. Moreover, I avoid it as I won’t be able to write false things. I don’t want to work for profit any more so I have decided to do some academic work.

Why did you decide to write a book on the history of the India media and entertainment industry?

I have been associated with various media schools including FTII, SFRTII and the Jamia Media Research Centre, among others. I came to realize that despite several books written on the media industry and lot of information available on Google, what has happened is that lot of wrong data got frozen on the internet. This has resulted in everybody quoting wrong data which is being circulated around.

Secondly, there is a lot of interest in the Indian media and entertainment sector because it’s one of the fastest growing in the world. Also, it is a very diverse market and we have a very rich cultural tradition. There are specific books written on each segment, but there is not one comprehensive book which gives you an insight on various subjects over a span of let’s say 5,000 years. My book is more like an encyclopedia. It does not delve into detail in anything but it mentions everything; records everything of significance which happened. That’s how this book’s format is.

Initially I considered the option to concentrate on a particular media or a particular time period within the media, but then decided against it and wrote a comprehensive book. However, having said that I will be writing more books in the future focusing specifically on television or films and other social trends.

I was 22 when Dev Anand handed over Navketan to me. I was influenced by him for the commitment to look ahead and keep working. He gave me this attitude

Why is it relevant for us to go back in time and reflect?

When I was writing about Indian music, for example, it occurred to me
that even though we are looking at the various developments in music in the last 50 years we still need to understand how did the music originate? Why is it that some forms of folk music still exist after 5,000 years of their origin?

We find that some forms of music that find mention in the Sangam literature have survived to date, especially in Tamil Nadu. Folk music in parts of Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and Andhra remain relevant even today. So, some of the relevant questions that needed to be answered are: What have been the influences? How did the Raga system emerge? How did Carnatic music diverge from Hindustani music? Though the answers provided by the book may not give you a complete picture, it still explains a lot of things. Whether you are a student of media, a media professional or you have a special interest in the arts, it will give you some touchpoints.

Which period in the history of media and entertainment in India you find much closer to the present?


Fortunately, there is a huge repository of data and knowledge available on the internet today that makes us a more informed society. Also, today there are a large numbers of media students and other professionals who have studied at least theory, making them more aware about the history of media compared to the people 30 years ago. But the pertinent questions to ask are: Have we traded knowledge for information? And are we able to preserve the wisdom which comes out of distilling of knowledge?

Everybody talks about our rich cultural traditions but they confuse time periods. For example, according to me the richest period of our history was the Vedic age but a lot of people confuse Vedic age with Puranas and with the epics, although epics predate the Vedas and the Upanishads. The fact is there is a clear distinction between them. Vedic knowledge or wisdom was distilled over a period of 2,000 years.

The two great Indian epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana have become a part of our cultural heritage. But in each region, virtually every 200 kms, the interpretation of these great epics changes because we come from a rich tradition. The transmission of wisdom and knowledge has been oral. Part of transmutation of this is possible, or is likely over a large span of time. We use very simple markers in history that this particular event marks the beginning of this era. But it is not like that. There are no ages and eras and time overlaps. The cultures, which keep on subsisting simultaneously before they get subsumed by one mass culture over spans of time; they are the first signposts of change.

We should produce only 500 to 600 films in India. But we are making over 2000 films. That ’s the biggest problem. Also, we cannot have 900 TV channels

How can this book be relevant for people?

The book is like an encyclopedia. It’s a reference book. There is no bibliography, so there are no reference materials. There is no arcane material which is normally written in scholarly books. It’s a very reader-friendly book. You can actually pick up the book and start reading it from any page. For example, if you want to read about music in the book it’s been so divided; if my interest is only music then I need not read the rest of it. I can read about music only. Similarly, if within music my interest is in classical music then I can read about it, or if it is theater or drama, I can read about drama or films. Each subject has been covered separately. It can appeal to anyone depending upon their interest.

We have been waiting for this book for a long time, why it took so much time?

The book required lot of research, therefore, lot of primary research went into it. Moreover, it was rather a challenging task to decide what to include and what not to in the book.

It means total number of pages were much more than the current 953 pages?

Originally it was planned in two volumes. But that would have meant devoting more time in rewriting it, and it would have been appealing to scholars and libraries only.

People of my generation or one generation after that are the last ones who are still obsessed with the sanctity of the celluloid films

Are you happy with your five decades devoted to the Indian M&E industry?

I am happy because I think we as a country have shown tremendous resilience to overcome various challenges, and have made tremendous progress in terms of technological advancement and realignment with the global geopolitics to come out stronger, and that’s the case with our media and entertainment sector also.

The case in point is when films moved from silent to talkie, the people said that live entertainment would disrupt the older forms of media because people are so infatuated by the moving image in the darkened auditorium. So they said: Who is going to watch Nautanki? Or who will watch Yakshagana? But the fact is that these have survived in some form or the other till today.

Then colour pictures came, and the people said that cinema would change. Later, other technologies like Dolby, iMax, Atmos and Virtual Reality were introduced in cinema. In the last five decades, the tools and the craft have definitely changed. Today, there is no analogue material or analogue link in the entire film value chain right from the conception stage. When you plan or write your film there is software to write it. You use it as the breakdown for your story boarding; you do your budgeting and everything online, and then you shoot on digital equipment. You do your post on digital equipment. Distribute it digitally, exhibit it digitally, and store it digitally. People of my generation or one generation after that are the last ones who are still obsessed with the sanctity of the celluloid films.

You are among the very few people in India, even in the world, to have seen closely all the mediums, what was it like back then?

When I first entered the film industry, very little tape was used back then. Songs were recorded on optical sound and if anyone in the orchestra, or the singer made a mistake then the film got wasted because you had to then put a new film.

At any point in time did you feel the frustration of accepting change?

No, there is always resistance to change. I became producer in 1976. Initially the Producers Guild had only 30 members and the membership was restricted. They did not admit new people. There were originally 20-25 people, who were giants of their time including people like V Shantaram, Meboob, Bimal Roy, Sohrab Modi, AL Srinivsan, AVM, LV Prasad, Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, BR Chopra, and Subodh Mukherjee. However, in the early 70s they admitted some 4-5 of us—Mushir Riaz, Yash Chopra, Raj Tilak, Yash Johar and I. I was only 24-25 year of age when I became a producer. I came from a different background. I used to write in magazines.


Featured Post

The Big Bachchan of Bollywood

admin   November 21, 2019

The name Amitabh Bachchan is synonymous to Indian cinema. From acting, anchoring, singing to even lending his voice to various shows, the actor’s contribution to cinema has been immense in numerous ways. And even after 50 glorious years in the industry, the megastar continues to rule the roost. The Indian government will acknowledge Amitabh’s achievements and contribution to Bollywood at the upcoming international Film Festival in Goa by honouring him with the most coveted Dada Saheb Phalke Award

by Poornima Bajwa Sharma

“Basically I am just another actor who loves his work and this thing about age exits only in media,” Amitabh Bachchan once shared in one of his interviews. Well, we can’t agree more as Amitabh is the only actor who is perhaps giving new age actors, a run for their money, even after spending so many years in this industry.

Big B started his film career in 1969 with the film Saat Hindustani, his only Black and White movie. The film was well received by the critics, who were bowled over by young Amitabh’s performance and declared him as the upcoming superstar on the block.

Cut to 2019, Big B is today a living legend and is busy doing equally good work. His recent films like Pink and Badla are testimony of his award-winning performances till date.

Besides conquering the film industry, Big B is the only actor who has been ruling the small screen too for almost two decades now. Ayiye deviyon aur sajjanon! hum aur aap khelte hain Kaunbanega crorepati” has been resonating in every household at night, since 3rd July 2000, till today.

From 13 million followers on Twitter to a separate Wikipedia page devoted only to the awards he has won, there are enough reasons why it has been suggested that Bollywood can certainly be called ‘Bachchan’!

The International Film Festival of India, slated to happen in Goa from November 20-28 this year, will be acknowledging all these glorious years of Amitabh Bachchan and his incredible contribution to the Indian cinema. The mega star will be hounoured with the Dada Saheb Phalke Award at the do that will also screen six films of the actor.

So, while, the entire industry and his ardent fans are looking forward to the special occasion where Amitabh Bachchan will add another feather to his cap, here’s a look at what his colleagues from the industry, have to say about him.

Amitabh Bachchan had already arrived. With hits like Zanjeer, Abhimaan and Nama Haram to his credit, the actor got an incredible push in his career when Ramesh Sippy casted him for his movie Sholay. The 1975 film is till date the biggest movie of Amitabh’s career and of the Indian cinema too. It was destined for Amitabh to be a part of such an iconic film as Sippy shared how he first thought of casting Shatrugan Sinha in the film. But since, he was already busy with other films, the role landed in Big B’s kitty. And rest, they say, is history! Big B and Sippy ruled again in 1980 with another blockbuster Shaan.


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Indian Cinema’s Steady Rise on Global Stage

admin   June 10, 2019

By Natarajan Vidyasagar

The Indian film industry, which produces the largest number of movies in the world, is on the cusp of a radical transformation and its steady rise in the global M&E space is clearly visible.

Chinese President Xi Jinping told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he watched Aamir Khan- starred sports drama Dangal and liked it. This underscores the growing influence of Indian cinema and its increasing global footprint.

There is a steady growth in the visibility, volume and cultural visibility of India – from Bollywood to Bhangra music, from mobile telephony to India’s influence in Silicon Valley – India has revolutionised in the production, distribution and consumption of images and ideas.

Last year turned out to be the most successful year for Indian films which were exported to more than 35 global territories internationally. USA, UK, China Gulf, Australia and Canada topped the list of Indian films in overseas territories. Around 125 movies (Hindi and regional films) were released in overseas theatrical markets in 2018.

Hailed as the best Indian movie of 2018, Sriram Raghavan’s Andhadhun, an official adaption of the French short film The Piano Tuner, had a successful run in China. Made at a budget of less than $5 million it raked in around $50 million in box office collections in China.

China alone accounted for $272 million in box office collection for 10 Indian films in 2018. “Indian films have been gradually making inroads both through the co-venture route (which films do not form part of China’s quota of foreign films) and co-production treaties,” says a recent EY report.

Indian films also made inroads into Saudi Arabia which lifted its decade old ban on cinemas, allowing theatres to open in Saudi Arabia.

Indian filmmakers have embraced new ways of telling stories, and this is increasingly visible on global platforms. “Indian content is in big demand and new avenues are opening up, for example China. The local market is huge in India, which is the only country in the world with nearly 12 dialects per language. As the dubbing industry is growing, all platforms are realising the value of localisation. The popularity and footprint of the platforms is increasing immensely due to this and this has resulted into emergence of Netfilx and Amazon, who are setting up offices in India and producing India specific content for global market as well,” says Manish Dutt, MD, VR Films & Studios.

Raazi

There’s no doubt today that Indian cinema is India’s soft power and is seen in over 100 countries. Thanks to platforms like Netflix, it is instantly visible and experienced now.

Indian actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui happened to be vacationing in Italy on the day that Sacred Games, the critically acclaimed Netflix political thriller in which he stars, was released online around the world. Just couple hours after Sacred Games was released, Nawazuddin got recognized on the streets in Italy. There are examples of new narratives, fresh stories, unknown stars, women power and successful films in regional languages across Indian movie production centres. That sums up the changing landscape of Indian cinema in 2018.

The Indian movie industry is a gargantuan entity. From its seven production centers, India produces nearly 1,800 films in 20-odd languages a year – more than the output of China and the US counted together.

The success of small budget films like Badhaai Ho (Amit Sharma), Andhadhun (Sriram Raghavan), Stree (Amar Kaushik) and Raazi (Meghna Gulzar) proved that Indian film audiences’ consumption habits are changing.

They are looking for new narratives, new genres than formula films. If the content is mediocre, however big stars may be is getting rejected at the box office. Most of these small budget films were made on a budget of less than Rs 40 crore but yielded at least thrice the amount at the box office. Raazi made almost Rs 200 crores!

The year 2018 also proved that films laced with good content and powerful performances can overpower the stars who ruled the box office collections of Bollywood films over the years. 

Fox Star India Studio’s film Sanju emerged as one of India’s all-time blockbusters  at the box office followed by Padmaavat, Simba, 2.0, Race 3, Baaghi 2,  Badhaai Ho,  Stree,  Raazi,  and Sonu ke Titu ki Sweety.

Apart from these, films in regional languages such as 2.0, KGF Chapter 1, Rangasthalam, Bharat Ane Nenu, Kaala, Arvindha Sametha Veera Raghava and Geeta Govindam performed well in terms of box office collections.

Industry experts maintained that 2018 also saw emergence of OTT platforms as an alternative for theatrical release as well as for films which had a good run in cinema screens. However, for small budget movies, video OTT platforms (like Hotstar, Amazon Prime, Zee 5, Netlfix, Eros Now) have opened a new market place.

“OTT is the new field for TV drama and independent film making.  It has changed everything, scripts, budgets, quality of art, even the list of senior crew and actors prepared to work on the smaller formats,” says producer and filmmaker Bobby Bedi, currently producing over a dozen web series.

Sarkar

FILM ON THE SMALL SCREEN

“I have viewed more and better drama in the last two years than I have viewed in the last 20.  Never a fan of ad breaks, I never saw films on TV and my lifestyle rarely permitted me to plan a film outing unless it was really ‘one of those big ones’. Today I look forward to my post dinner two (maybe three) hours of viewing across a range of content.  Addictive web-series and films I couldn’t see.” Bedi adds.

The Government of India has recognized India’s Audio Visual Sector as one of the Champion Service sectors for export growth. India is also one of the most liberated media markets in the world. The country offers highly liberal policy environment for investments in film sector.

From talents (both on-and off-screen), to locales to an industry-friendly Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, India is already a one-stop destination for global filmmakers.  The establishment of Film Facilitation Office (FFO) by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting as a single window clearance for film shooting across India, and the ease of doing business, have made India a very attractive destination for film business. Many State governments in India are aggressively wooing global filmmakers in their regions.

Many Indian companies have created top-end studio facilities in India that serve as single windows to fulfil the needs of the M&E industry. Their international business model offers local and remote clients the opportunity to produce and co-produce and distribute content anywhere around the world.

Top movies of 2018

  • 2.0
  • Language:Tamil
  • Director: S. Shankar
  • Staring: Rajinikanth, Akshay Kumar, Amy Jackson, Adil Hussain
  • Sanju
  • Language: Hindi
  • Director: Rajkumar Hirani Starring: Ranbir Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, Manisha Koirala, Vicky Kaushal
  • Padmaavat
  • Language: Hindi
  • Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali Starring: Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, Shahid Kapoor, Aditi Rao Hydari
  • Andhadhun
  • Language: Hindi
  • Director: Sriram Raghavan | Starring: Ayushmann Khurrana, Tabu, Radhika Apte, Anil Dhawan
  • Simmba
  • Language: Hindi
  • Director: Rohit Shetty
  • Starring: Ranveer Singh, Sara Ali Khan, Sonu Sood, Ashutosh Rana
  • Sarkar
  • Language: Tamil
  • Director: A.R. Murugadoss Starring: Joseph Vijay, Keerthi Suresh, A.R. Murugadoss, Joy Badlani
  • Baaghi 2
  • Language: Hindi
  • Director: Ahmed Khan
  • Stars: Tiger Shroff, Disha Patani, Manoj Bajpayee, Randeep Hooda
  • K.G.F Chapter 1
  • Language: Kannada
  • Director: Prashanth Neel
  • Starring: Yash, Srinidhi Shetty, Ramachandra Raju, Archana Jois
  • Badhaai Ho
  • Language: Hindi
  • Director: Amit Ravindernath Sharma
  • Starring: Ayushmann Khurrana, Sanya Malhotra, Neena Gupta, Gajraj Rao
  • Rangasthalam
  • Language: Telugu
  • Director: Sukumar
  • Starring: Ram Charan, Samantha Ruth Prabhu, Aadhi, Jagapathi Babu
  • Raazi
  • Language: Hindi
  • Director: Meghna Gulzar
  • Starring: Alia Bhatt, Vicky Kaushal, Rajit Kapoor, Shishir Sharma
  • Stree
  • Language:Hindi
  • Director: Amar Kaushik
  • Starring: Rajkummar Rao, Shraddha Kapoor, Pankaj Tripathi, Aparshakti Khurana

(The list includes commercial hits and small budget films which made huge Box Office Returns)


INDIA IN NUMBERS

INDIA

  • Area

India measures 3,214 km from north to south and 2,933 km from east to west with a total land area of 3,287,263 sq km.

  • Population

1.3 billion

  • No of States and Union Territories

29 States, 7 Union Territories

  • Capital

New Delhi

  • Languages

Hindi, English and 21 other national languages.

  • Number of Feature Films Produced in India

1800

  • Number of Screens in India

8500

  • Market share of local films

90% BO

  • Theatrical Box Office Collections

$2.25 bn

  • Film Friendly States of India for Film Locations

Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala, Jharkand, Delhi, Maharashtra

  • Major Centres of Film Production

Bangalore, Chennai, New Delhi, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Thiruvanathapuram, Cuttack

  • TV Households

195 million

  • TV Channels

900

  • Mobile Subscribers

1 billion

  • Smart Phone Users

500 million

  • Internet Users

600 million

  • Broadband

No.1 Mobile broadband market in the world

(This article first appeared on Cannes Market News, the official daily of of Marche Du Film, Festival De Cannes on May 15, 2019)