100 years of Indian cinema – What lies ahead
The entire country is basking in the glory of the centenary of Indian cinema. From the time of the first film, Raja Harishchandra (1913) till date, Indian cinema, especially Hindi film cinema, has seen change, advancement and a revolution of sorts in the entire filmmaking process. We have compared yesteryear classics to today’s blockbusters, identified the transitions that have taken place and counted the numerous successes and failures witnessed by the Hindi film industry. But now it’s time to look ahead at the next 100 years of Indian cinema. Tine to create a wish list of what we want and what we can expect from Hindi cinema in the years to come. And most importantly how we can continue to make this journey glorious with every passing year.
Let us begin by taking a look at the things that we want from Hindi cinema.
Quality over numbers: 100 crore may be the coveted number but it has little value if the cinema being churned out makes no sense. These days the focus on the quality of the film is less and crossing the 100 crore mark is more, the examples range from Housefull to Bol Bachchan and many others. That does not mean that we create only serious, hard hitting films but a film that has a sensible storyline and an innovative concept is not much to ask for. Another fad which people believe is the key to a successful film are big budgets. You spend more and you expect more too. But a huge budget doesn’t guarantee a box-office hit; read Agent Vinod, Joker etc. Several movies spend crores on the making only to end up as box office duds as they lack content. On the other hand films with a small budget can make for good cinema if the story stands out and convinces the audience. Paan Singh Tomar, Vicky Donor and many others bear testimony to this fact. Indian audiences are definitely opening up to different content which is witty and entertaining rather than backed by numerous zeros.
Fewer Remakes: From Ghajini to Bodyguard and Agneepath to Chashme Baddoor, remaking cult classics or popular South Indian films is a trend that cannot be ignored. With every other director working on a remake, a serious question raises its ugly head – Is there a dearth of original story ideas? It does seem so. These films may have done well at the box office and remaking a film isn’t an easy job as well but it definitely doesn’t have the charm of an original script. An original concept has unmatched novelty. And a remake too has little or no value if you cannot add something new to the original concept. You are bestowed with the duty of taking the soul of a classic/super hit film and re-designing it into a contemporary scenario. But most films these days do not change much from the original plot, fail to add an interesting twist and ruin the appeal of the original film. Just changing the cast is a futile effort if there is no vision for the film. Remakes of only those stories that are truly worth recreating and not just being copied due to lack of originality should be the norm.
Indie films to audiences: The abundance of talent in our country needs no introduction. In recent times several short films have been screened and also won accolades at international forums. This is not just proof of the creativity of our budding filmmakers but also the quality of our cinema which is on par with universal standards. Short films like Filmistaan, Dabba, Much Ado About Knotting are just some examples of the indie films that are making us proud on the global map. And it is time that these films are brought to the Indian audience; to their real goal. The films need to be made accessible to viewers by screening them at theaters. We could start with screenings at smaller theaters with affordable ticket pricing. Only through such efforts can the films reach the viewers and expand their audience base. These are crucial steps that need to be taken to ensure that indie films too gain the deserving popularity like commercial cinema.
More Animation: Animation in India may be picking up slowly but it has a long way to go in comparison to its western counterparts. Though there is no lack of talent and creativity, content development and storytelling techniques are a far cry from international animated film standards. Films like My Friend Ganesha, Chota Bheem, Bal Ganesh or the recent film Sons of Ram etc. do not have a base as loyal as international cartoon characters and are largely watched by kids when aired on Television. The theater going audience for an Indian animated film is far lesser than an animated film from an international studio be it Madagascar, Despicable Me, Smurfs or Croods. Delhi Safari is amongst the few Indian animated films that have made a mark for themselves. The need of the hour is to get bigger studios to back animated films, invest in them and promote them in the same way as international studios do. We as an industry need to focus on promoting Indian animated content, creating our own heroes rather than chasing international characters.
And what is it that we can expect?
Individualistic filmmakers – Filmmakers today are willing to experiment. The new crop, some of whom come from small towns but with unmatched creativity, are exploring dimensions no one has touched before. Be it Anurag Kashyap or Sujoy Ghosh, Dibaker Banerjee, Vikramaditya Motwane and several others, these young directors are trying out novel concepts and unabashedly following their heart rather than any trends. We have gone from the mainstream commercial routine to unusual genres and gripping storylines. The recent success of small budget, niche movies such as No One Killed Jessica, Peepli Live, Gangs of Wasseypur, Kahaani, Vicky Donor or even the recent flick like Go Goa Gone have has re-emphasized the importance of content-driven films. No more is the audience bound by compartmentalized genres. With more writers and directors willing to chase unconventional topics and studios backing them up, the future of filmmaking is bright.
Boost in Technology – Over the years Hindi cinema has embraced technology. Filmmakers have realized not just the potential of technology but also the value they add to the film. 3D is the future of the country’s entertainment industry. India’s first 3D dance film – ABCD: Any Body Can Dance and the success of Vikram Bhatt’s Haunted 3D have opened up new gates in this genre. However not everyone is able to utilize its complete potential. The key is to understand that not all kinds of feature films can work in the 3D format and hence getting only the right content visualized in 3D. With companies like UFO Moviez which have developed a 3D compliant technology installed across several theater screens in the country, the audience is treated to a wholesome 3D experience. VFX too is reaching new heights with directors employing them in unique ways. In recent times Robot, Ra. One, Makkhi and also the upcoming Krrish 3 have interwoven creative VFX in to the story rather than using them just as supporting tools. Sound too has gained a new dimension with Dolby Atmos arriving in India. Suparn Verma’s Aatma was amongst the first to use this technology. A new audio platform that allows sound designers and mixers a new level of creative control, Dolby Atmos also ensures that audiences will experience the full impact of the sound mix, regardless of theatre configuration. It also gives filmmakers greater control over the definition and placement of sounds. With these and several other advancements in technology we can only look forward to a renewed movie watching experience.
Contemporary Music- When story telling techniques and filmmaking methods are undergoing a drastic change, how can Hindi film music be the same? With quirky lyrics, acoustic music, influences from various cultures and distinctive vocals, music in the Hindi film industry is changing by the day. The music industry has opened to unconventional voices and the new and young crop of singers from Shefali Alvares, Shalmali Kholgade, Benny Dayal and many others have the country swaying to their vocals. It is not about a classic voice anymore and with changing music compositions, newer talent is getting a larger platform. Composers are traversing boundaries to give their music an edge, so if Amit Trivedi incorporates regional influences in Kai Po Che, Pritam adds a touch of Jazz and Bossa Nova to Barfi and Sachin – Jigar go completely trippy with Go Goa Gone. With Hindi films undergoing a change in themes, filmmakers and musicians are working towards attracting the attention of the youth through contemporary tunes and lyrics. Several music composers lending their expertise to a single film also ensures diversity in the album with each song having a distinct style. With such a phenomenal change in the quality and variety of music, we can definitely look forward to memorable numbers.
Global wave: Hindi cinema has acquired a strong fan base not just in India but across the globe. America, United Kingdom, Canada have always welcomed Hindi movies with open arms owing to their sizable Indian diaspora. But more recently other markets from Egypt to Indonesia, China and even Japan are opening up to Hindi films in a big way. While My Name is Khan was amongst the top ten grossers in weekend box office collections in South Korea while Jab Tak Hai Jaan become the fastest Indian film to reach the 2 Million figure in the Middle East. Recently, Bollywood also made its entry into Japan with Ek Tha Tiger which was premiered in Tokyo, released across 30 screens and reportedly received a very good response. Though Hollywood still has a stronger presence in these international markets, Bollywood too is soon catching up in the race and expanding across the global map.
As time passes by, we are sure to witness several trends that are going to change the face of Indian cinema and transform the next 100 years!