Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The young brigade on a roll!

Small-budget, young films have left the audience charmed in the first half of 2013

By Ankita R Kanabar

(This feature was published in the July 6, 2013 issue of Super Cinema) 

If you thought that 2012 was a fun year at the movies, with small-budget, niche films coming to the forefront and taking all the accolades, along with a number of other films making it to the 100-crore mark then, hold that thought. Because, 2013 has sprung up quite a few surprises as well. And of course, none of us are complaining! Some quintessential entertainers have managed to do well, yet again, and then there were some mega-budget films that didn’t manage to hit the jackpot. Yes, indeed the box office is soaring high, but what’s really nice is how some small films, with a relatively fresh cast, and novel concepts have managed to woo the audience and command attention. This is just another testament to the fact that Hindi cinema is changing and we’re becoming more concept-driven than star-driven. And, what’s even more amusing is that because of this whole change in the scenario, even the stars who were extremely happy in their trademark style, and genre, are now willing to experiment, and be a part of various subjects. For instance, we saw how Akshay Kumar moved away from the larger-than-life action and comedy, to do something as unique as a ‘Special 26’. But, here’s the thing. While the audience loves to see their favourite stars in their patent form, and the big stars are happy in their own comfort zone, we have the younger lot, who is being a part of the change. The younger lot, on the other hand, with their energy, dynamism and freshness, is willing to experiment, try something new, or probably just do what’s being done, differently. Which is why, filmmakers are also willing to work with newer talents. The reason for this could also be the fact that in India, the majority of the movie-goers comprise of the youth. The younger lot is like a wave of fresh air, amidst the staple Hindi cinema fare, which we equally enjoy, by the way! So, hey, while the Bachchans, the Khans, the Devgn, and Khiladi Kumar still continue to reign, the youth is slowly making its presence felt on the 70mm and charming us by displaying some great prowess.

This year as well, just like last year, a number of moderately-budgeted films have shown immense potential and excelled at the box office. While ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’ has proven to be the biggest blockbuster of the year so far; as far as the cost-profit ratio is concerned, the biggest hit has been ‘Aashiqui 2’. Producer Mahesh Bhatt thinks it’s the soul of the film which created that kind of impact. He opines, “It is certainly nice that a film made under a budget of 9 crores, goes on to make around 80 crores, nationally. All of us had deep conviction in Shagufta Rafique’s story. The director, Mohit Suri gave a new soul to the film. I think what worked for ‘Aashiqui 2’ was that after a long time came a film that made people cry. In today’s day and age, we hardly see heroines on-screen who are like ‘Seeta’, or who’re so traditional. And it was a welcome change to see this kind of love, and these kind of characters which is why it became a hit. Also, the music added to its popularity. Lately, given to the public pressure, we see only happy endings in films, but if you see epic love stories like ‘Mughal-e-azam’, they didn’t have a happy ending. We’re now moving into a global culture, the consumer is getting more evolved, yet somewhere the audience likes the traditional values in our films.” Apart from ‘Aashiqui 2’, the Boman Irani-Arshad Warsi starrer ‘Jolly LLB’ has also proven to be a dark horse. The film did exceptionally well at the box office, with some great reviews by the critics.

Another film which managed to find a connect with the audience was ‘Kai Po Che’. Starring newcomers, the film dealt with several things at one go, and yet managed to be engrossing and heart-warming. Of course, all the credit goes to director Abhishek Kapoor, but the three young actors of the film totally shined through, and definitely, the film proved to be a new, sweet beginning for them. In fact, newbie Sushant Singh Rajput already bagged quite a few other films before ‘Kai Po Che’ even released. “You know, people might have thought earlier that ‘Kai Po Che’ is not a typical launch because it’s not a single hero film. But I feel extremely fortunate to have ‘Kai Po Che’ has my debut, since it was a character-driven film. Cinema is changing as we know, and the variety of films we’ve had last year, prove that. ‘Kai Po Che’ again was yet another film that was different,” says Sushant. 

Actor Amit Sadh, who played Omi in the film admits that this film has been life-changing for him. Amit expresses, “I would say that after this film, I feel like a new born. It has been a life-changing experience for me, especially working with people like these. I used to say, this film has no actual stars, everyone in the film apart from actors, are stars. We had a national-award winning producer, director, sound-recordist! I’m still amazed at my luck to get a character like this so early in my career. I still don’t know how I did it! I’m still soaking it all in.”

What we also saw this year, was India’s first dance film in 3D. Directed by Remo, ‘ABCD’ did manage to allure the dance enthusiasts and many others. Later, Vidyut Jammwal starrer ‘Commando’, redefined the action genre, and was a complete departure from the larger-than-life action films that are a trend in Hindi cinema, in recent times. Vidyut who was considered more as a baddie, post his stint in ‘Force’, established himself as the solo lead, and the new action hero, with ‘Commando’. Time and again, it’s being proven that it’s all about re-inventing oneself, and a veteran director like David Dhawan just did that this year with ‘Chashme Buddoor’. He moved away from his style of comedy, cast relatively new actors, and the film went on to do great.

South actress Taapsee Pannu, who made her Hindi film debut with ‘Chashme Buddoor’, completely credits the veteran director for how the film turned out to be. She says, “Probably, three years from now, Hindi cinema was not as open to newcomers as it is right now. But today, it’s different. During ‘Chashme Buddoor’, it was so surprising that a director like David Dhawan, who is such a veteran, could re-invent himself and work with a newcomer like me and youngsters like the other actors in the film. He recreated the feel of the youth. He’s actually the youngest by heart. It’s his youth that has reflected in the movie.” And the man himself, David Dhawan is extremely overwhelmed by the response to the film.
His voice is brimming with happiness, while he says, “The fact that ‘Chashme Buddoor’ did well despite having newcomers is a big thing for me. It’s my unsaid answer to a lot of people. I feel really great that people appreciated the film. Times have changed, and now smaller films can also do very well. ‘Chashme Buddoor’, ‘Jolly LLB’, ‘Aashiqui 2’ and many more are examples of that!”

Y Films’ ‘Mere Dad Ki Maruti’ is another film to have made a good mark, despite the film being made at a very small budget, and not going overboard with the promotional activities. Obviously, it opened newer avenues for actor Saqib Saleem. “I cannot really figure out how much should the box office collection of a film be. So, I didn’t expect this kind of response to ‘Mere Dad Ki Maruti’, but obviously, I’m not complaining. I’m very happy that people suddenly want to work with me, and I’m being offered a variety of parts in different films. You know, I have that certain kind of look, though I’m 25, I look 22-23 on-screen so I thought I would get the similar kind of young roles only, but now people are giving me some serious roles which I’ve always wanted to do, so this is an interesting phase. But when it comes to ‘Mere Dad Ki Maruti’, I have to give credit to one person and that’s my director Ashima Chibber because it was her first film and she had to be convinced that I was her character,” explains Saqib.

And then, who would have thought that we’d see a film which will be touted as India’s first zombie film. We aren’t a zombie crazy country, yet ‘Go Goa Gone’ with its unique concept, and elements of horror and comedy combined, was successful in entertaining the audience. While it did have Saif Ali Khan donning the hat of a producer, and in an extended cameo, the film majorly worked only because of its content.
The recently released ‘Fukrey’ was a complete entertainer as well, and people still are raving about the film. ‘Raanjhanaa’ also has proven to be extremely appealing to the audience, and Dhanush who’s made his debut with this one, has bowled over everyone with his performance. But, while the first half of 2013 was dominated by the young brigade and smaller films, the next half of the year shall be filled with big releases and mega stars. There’s ‘Chennai Express’, ‘Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai Dobara’, ‘Krissh 3’, ‘Boss’ and ‘Dhoom 3’ to name a few.

Now, this is what is interesting! We have big films, with big stars being awaited and welcomed with open arms, and then even the newer lot is getting a good reception from the audience. Now, if this is where we’re going with Hindi cinema, it’s truly awesome! The audience certainly has a buffet of options being offered to them, and a huge variety of films to choose from. This variety in films, is most definitely, adding a lot of spice to our otherwise monotonous life. At least, for a big Hindi cinema fanatic like me, this is a treat! The year so far must have been creatively satisfying for a lot of people. Evidently, we’ve had a lot of fun at the movies, and hopefully it will continue to remain so even in the second half of the year!  

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