Mumbai: Eminent Bollywood film makers and directors, Ramesh Sippy, Shimit Amin, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Sudhir Mishra put their heads together to provide an answer to the question: what kind of film works for today’s audiences?
Day-2 of Ficci-Frames 2008, saw overall participation upwards of 2,000 entertainment and media professionals, including 140 industry leaders from abroad. Participation of countries has gone up this year to 18 from 15 last year, indicating that the event continues to receive top billing amongst entertainment and media conventions across the world.
Vidhu Vinod Chopra, who made well acclaimed films like Parinda, 1942: A Love Story, Munna Bhai series, Eklavya and Mission Kashmir, pointed out there was no simple and ready answer to what audiences prefer.
He said, “all we try to do is make a film that we believe in, and we try to be honest to our art.” While it is easy to put a finger, in hindsight, with aid of statistics and trends, on the kind of films that should be made, fact is that when a film maker sets out to make a film, it is his passion and belief that urges him forward. “The truth is that even after seeing a film it is not always possible to predict how it will do at the box office. Sholay and Munna Bhai, were cases in point, which opened to small audiences for weeks, but later blossomed into blockbusters,” he pointed out.
Shimit Amin, director and editor who gave us Chak De India and Ab Tak Chappan, echoed the sentiments of Vidhu Vinod Chopra, saying that “there has to be something crazy in the film maker for it is his passion and drive to be innovative that will eventually help him churn out a winning product.”
Sudhir Mishra, director and script writer, renowned for directing critically acclaimed films like Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, Dharavi and Chameli, likened film making to an “act of arrogance”, backed hopefully by a craft, knowledge and sensitivity. “A film should be judged by its impact on people. If the audiences leave the cinema hall happy, the film should be rated as good. That’s the yardstick,” he said.
Ramesh Sippy of Sholay fame, who moderated the panel discussion, felt there was no such thing as an ideal film. “Yes, there was a time when films were made to appeal to as wide a smattering of people as was possible. That was the era of formula films. It worked for a while, but people became fed up with such stereotypical films.” He agreed with the observation that there were too many people deciding what is right and wrong. But a good film maker is one who keeps his counsel and does what he thinks is right, he observed.
Giving the international perspective was David Martin, CEO, Film Producers’ Guild of the UK, who said that trends emanating from the UK and US showed that the younger set preferred big-scale, big-banner, visual effects-driven movies, while older people chose to see drama with high production values. The challenge, according to him was on developing new partnerships on a global scale maximizing the ‘big bang’ at the least cost.