Bollywood Biz : Clamour gets better of Glamour

After decades of mediocrity coming out on top in Bollywood, quality films are finally getting the recognition they deserve. Tired of being dished out old wine in new bottles, film viewers are now giving offbeat films a chance. Even Film Award shows, which have always been more about style than substance, are now recognising the mavericks in cinema. This year’s Filmfare Awards, for example, came across as a breath of fresh air. Corporate Citizen takes a look at the shift in focus from the mainstream to critically acclaimed cinema in today’s fast adapting Bollywood

Let’s begin with the Filmfare awards. After receiving a royal snub at most award functions, Vikas Bahl’s coming of age drama Queen finally received the recognition it deserved at the Filmfare awards held earlier this month. The film garnered six awards in total – best film, best director, best actress, best editing to Abhijit Kokate and Anurag Kashyap, best cinematography (Bobby Singh and Siddharth Diwan) and best background score for Amit Trivedi.

Vishal Bhardwaj’s take on Shakespeare’s Hamlet also wowed the critics and audiences alike. Haider bagged five wins including best actor for Shahid Kapoor, and best supporting actors for Tabu and Kay Kay Menon. It also won in technical categories, including Dolly Ahluwalia winning best costume designer and Subrata Chakraborty and Amit Ray topping the best production design awards.

The Filmfare awards came as a strong contrast to other award shows this year, which were not as discerning in their selection. For example, the mass market comic caper Happy New Year won the Best Film award at the Stardust Awards, and Shahrukh Khan and Deepika Padukone picked up the best actor and best actress awards respectively. While Happy New Year was definitely a box office blockbuster, opinion as to whether it was the best film of the year, is certainly negative.

Most film award shows in India are more about the glamour quotient and driving TRPs than the actual celebration of cinema. Top stars are usually ‘awarded’ trophies, just for showing up, or performing for the show. This is the very reason why seasoned actors like Aamir Khan and Kangana Ranaut never attend award shows, calling them rigged. As a result, most of their films rarely win any awards. For example, despite being a critics’ darling and the most successful film in Indian cinema, Aamir Khan’s PK has barely won in any category, except for best screenplay and best dialogue categories.

It’s not just the award shows that have chosen a better class of movies. The ever fickle audience, too, is slowly changing its taste from no-brainer entertainers to thought provoking cinema.

Most film award shows in India are more about the glamour quotient and driving TRPs than the actual celebration of cinema

Movies like Ajay Devgan’s Action Jackson and Salman Khan’s Jai Ho failed to woo the audience last year, becoming major box office duds. Despite having humungous star power and huge production values, they were rejected by the masses and the classes alike. On the other hand, indie films like Imtiaz Ali’s Highway, Vishal Bhardwaj’s Haider and Vikas Bahl’s Queen garnered critical and commercial success. While hardcore entertainers like Kick and Happy New Year were successful as well, 2014 was definitely the year of the critics’ darlings.

The Filmfare Awards came as a strong contrast to other award shows this year

“We are tired of being fed the same old drivel time and time again,” says Rohit Joshi, an avid cinema lover. “When India is capable of producing brilliant movies like Anurag Kashyap’s Ugly which swept the Cannes jury panel off its feet and received a standing ovation, we as film lovers should encourage such movies. If you look at it, mainstream Bollywood is stuck in the 80s, with the same hackneyed plots and clichés. It is the indie film circuit which is keeping up with the modern times”.

In 2014, rebel filmmakers like Anurag Kashyap, Vishal Bhardwaj, and Imtiaz Ali ruled the roost. 2015, by the looks of it, seems no different. The first Blockbuster of the year is the Akshay Kumar starrer Baby, which is an intelligent covert operation movie, which has successfully managed to appeal to the audience’s intellect. Baby has set the pace for the year, and it is only a matter of time before other filmmakers sit up and take notice. The days of taking viewers for granted are now over!

By Neeraj Varty