Rant alert!

As I type this, I am listening to ARR’s Mental Madhilo from OK Bangaram and I don’t know if I like it or dislike it. I know I am inviting trouble but the magic of ARR(and Ilayaraja) seems to have faded in recent times. Let’s talk about “I”. No, it’s alright. Let’s get back to the topic. I respect ARR and IR’s respect to their professional integrity by reusing their own compositions but it has become a tiring exercise to start enjoying and stop thinking about their old songs which new ones are reminding of. For example, all those who thought that mental madhilo is brand new and has no slightest tinge of ARR’s other songs can raise your hands now. (Kamal- you can lower your hand because you do not count).

Not just that, the visuals of OK Bangaram have a striking resemblance to Sakhi and Yuva. A guy who is not into commitments and a pretty girl with curly hair who tries to talk him into marriage plus maniratnam -what strikes you if not Yuva? You can say that any scene on the Chennai local train need not be that of Sakhi‘s but sorry, romance on the local trains with hero and heroine on opposite ones does not remind of anything else. The same genius of ManiRatnam created that magic which has not still faded away. On a separate note, dear unmarried ladies, do not expect that you would spot Madhavan(s) when you footboard Chennai trains. Try looking elsewhere or at least settle with the name like I did.

The plight of Telugu movies is better not talked about because the way it is being ridiculed nowadays (by our own people) is sad. Twitter is a fresh break from facebook’s nonsense and it is where I learnt how much Tollywood is picked on. To my dismay, not all of the twitterage is nonsense. First they called our film industry nepotistic because all the active heroes we have are from the families who are being here from Indus valley civilization and never left ever since. How true because there is no stopping of heroes coming from those families. Acting skills are no longer a requirement to act in movies. We do have a few good actors who are either reluctant to experiment or falling for the urgency to make as many movies as possible to stay in light. Such movies are lacking good scripts.

Coming to scripts, I read an interesting comparison about them- that they are much like a white elephant with wings. No, not precious or something, such things don’t exist. I realized that two things which are common to every Telugu cinema these days are 1)basic outline of one hero, 1 or more heroines falling for him without even a second thought about why they should, family drama with extended members and 2)Brahmanandam. Point 2 reminds me of comedy. This was one aspect which was okay until recent times but it has started degrading too. The dialogues and comedy used to be catchy once upon a time but the increasing importance to so called “punch dialogues” has ruined the total thing. The unnecessary importance to make catchy one liners is interfering with the pace of the story. As an example, how many of you do not think Trivikram is losing it and is a better dialogue writer than a director?

Then some people said whatever innovation our directors have done are copied from Hollywood. They also said instead of spending on twitter, film makers should spend time on Youtube and learn not to copy the ideas so blatantly. I did not watch many Hollywood movies but I can vouch for two facts- Julai has a scene directly lifted from Dark Knight. Manmadhudu is not even close to “What Women Want” even though both Nagarjuna and Mel Gibbson used lipstick on their eyes. I mean there are some honest thoughts which are getting lost in this generalization and the others are just giving us a facepalm followed by a slap for watching.

Few people said we need scripts like Raghuvaran Btech because it is innovative. I was looking for the so called innovation but I slept through the movie ( well almost). There was NONE. Also, I ended up spending that night thinking about which last dubbed movie had a plot in which nobody died. May be it is a kind of sentiment there like our obsession with an “item song”.

These days I wonder if the films are getting bad or we have become so critical that we want everything to be super fresh and flawless (Is it too much of a requirement or is it okay asking because we are spending some time and money on movies? I don’t know). Please do not say that viewers do not have right to complain because they don’t know the ABC of film making. Film makers also seem to have forgotten the ABC and hence there is no good movie that we want to watch again when it is on TV on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Or a movie which we don’t mind watching in the theaters for a second time. Or the one we want to recommend to a friend. Or the one which is going to win some recognition.

I know liking/disliking is a personal choice and cannot be generalized. But there is a concept of majority that determines the success/failure of a film in its all dimensions like above. I also think the decade before this and even before, we saw some such movies. What do you think will their fate be had they been made today? What would happen if a film like Geethanjali is released today? Will it be a box office hit? Will our so called film critics say it is a master piece and give it a good rating? Will the twitterage accept the film or just say the film should have been a trailer for Apollo hospitals or Ooty tourist development corporation?



12 thoughts on “Rant alert!

  1. You cannot quote old movies and say that they are not making such classics anymore. Though there are lot of such good movies they are not coming to light because of media and producers who block all theaters for their own commercial cinemas. This has been a very big problem and often few ppl come forward to release such good movies. For example ‘Ship of Theseus’ got a theatrical release only after Kiran Rao liked it and released it herself. Even in telugu, films like ‘1942 lo Oka Gramam’ did not release in theaters even after getting a national award. Even moderate budget movies like ‘Malli malli idi rani roju’ also had to be postponed because of theaters unavailability. There are also few producers like Sai korripati who maintain balance between commercial and experimental films.

    Also the cost of making a movie has gone up these days. Atleast need 2-3 crores is needed to make a decent movie with good standards which is not the case earlier. NTR, ANR used make 10-12 movies easily in the old times because it was just camera and actors back then. Because of technical constraints nowadays no hero or director can work for so many movies (barring Allari Naresh few years ago :P). Since time of making a movie has increased, I think we are getting lesser movies.

    With the advent of digital photography and youtube you can find some good short films online. Some of those directors are so good that most surprise hits like UyyalaJampala, Venkatadri Express, RunRajaRun came from short films background. But I guess they also eventually fall back to commercial formula after few films.

    • Two things here- a films theatrical success alone cannot be a unit of measurement. Like I said, it is more than just collecting crores. Films like Geetanjali and athadu were not so successful in theaters. That is why I took their example. I never said that there are no good movies at all. I am only saying they are considerably low with such talented and experienced technicians that we have. I am stressing on the fact that we have talent and hence we can be in a better place if we changed something. Films that you have quoted are just examples. What immense standards did “swamy ra ra” movie have though it is made in today’s times? Isn’t that movie a theatrical hit? Cost of a movie cannot be a reason why we are not getting good movies. Taking your example- venkatadri express isn’t expensive, it is fresh. So is oohalu gusagusalade. Scripts which really need real bucks can wait but most of our scripts these days are just stale and played safe.

  2. Half way through the blog, I was almost entirely sure that Rohit would be the first one to comment on this 🙂

    Looks like you are deeply dissatisfied with the film industry 🙂 As far as I know, the situation that we face is a huge paradox where we want fresh scripts but with all the commercial elements included. There were a few good movies in the recent times like Karthikeya, Malli malli idi raani roju,etc. that had a totally new storyline. Those who watched said they were good attempts from the directors but the number of people that actually opt for such movies over the other commercial high-budgeted ones like Racegurram and Temper is what… a handful? I am not very sure that shares in the earnings will be of much help in reviving this scenario.

    • I am really dissatisfied. Especially after people saying this is going to hit rock bottom soon:) Like I said in the blog, I am not sure if the fault is with the makers or the audience. The films that you have compared are so apart not just in the contents but also the star cast. Those films which were hits must have pulled crowds because they were starring big heads. That is certainly a marketing technique. So is it justified to expect a different movie(which has a meaningful script) from them because they are bound to attract audience anyway? Or do we have to accept the fact that a script that won’t bring returns won’t go on sets at all? (Nenokkadine failed irrespective of it starring Mahesh babu. So did Gaganam).

      Also, Is it too much to expect a film that is both entertaining and is not crap? We really saw some movies in the past which were accepted by our so diverse audience (well almost) and I wonder what happened (/happens with them) now. Didn’t Balakrishna make “Bhairava Dweepam” and “Aditya 369” when it was the time of “Gharana mogudu” and “Mechanic alludu”?

      Please notice that I am not just talking about the collections. I am talking about the acceptance as a whole. “Athadu” was a mild grosser but it has earned crores with TRP.

      I am interested to learn how shares in earnings wont be of help. I think that is a good idea to force the team to deliver good content.

  3. When art is linked with business, there are lots of compromises. We remember classics because they are classics. However, every director has an equal number of flops if not more than the hits. Why will a producer invest so much money on something that he cant be sure to earn back? Coming to so called small movies, they are hits only because they have good story. There are hundreds of small movies releasing everyday which are not even in the cinemas for a week.

    For comparison, Bangladesh win percentage in tests is 7%. How many of them do we remember? Compare that stat with the hit ratio of movie industry. (Hovering around 2-10% may be). With such ridiculously low hit rate, any industry is bound to dish out more bad movies than good ones. I guess the same can be applied to startups where the success rate is also similar. I am sure no film maker makes a movie assuming that he is delivering mediocre. For example, Mahesh Babu claiming that his performance in Aagadu is one of his finest, never before and never after. We all know how it turned out to be. I guess we are performing too much of analysis into an industry with a single digit success rate 🙂

    cheppina tappanipiste manninchu.. asalu ardame tappanukunte kshaminchu 😛

    • I don’t know how to understand your comment. You are saying we remember classics because they are classics. I am saying we do not have any classics because they are not making classics anymore. Did you mean they are not making because they wont get any returns? I cannot agree completely.

      And coming to doling out money, producers definitely know where not to spend money. They can do it if you want to. For example, what importance has Australia got with the movie ‘orange’? It could as well have been done in Hyderabad.

      I don’t understand the hit rate part. By low hit rate, Did you mean the number of hits or number of good movies? If the success rate is low why will they want to lower that still further? Rohith has a better analysis of this in his comment.

      You trust film people too much. Most of them lie in interviews. They are making movies only to stay in light so that no body forgets them or they do it for the sake of image. These are hence mediocre though they are not admitting it. I am not saying necessarily Mahesh babu lied, may be it is his best performance according to him. In fact, aagadu might have failed but no body failed Mahesh as an actor. Do you really think Srinu vaitla did not know that his aagadu script is mediocre? Whole of Telugu audience knows he made it out of spite after he and kona parted ways.

  4. This is a phenomenon, every film industry is suffering. The root cause is the new marketing strategy for the Art of Cinema. Earning money based on hype more than quality. These days, movies are earning as much as possible before even the editing is finished. So content and quality are completely delinked from the failure of the movie financially. If hype marketing fails, quality and content may come to rescue to make it a financial success. ( I am not even talking about artistic success or failure) but overall, the financiers have succeeded in reducing the dependency of money earning on the Final product.

    The incentive structure has changed drastically and brace yourself with many more such movies/music albums where skills of the artists are irrelevant. You can see this phenomenon in books too these days. Actually any art form where user has to pay upfront before experiencing that art. Marketing strategy before advent of TVs and Internet was to use the first week spectators’ word of mouth publicity, now financiers don’t need those early viewers. Infact they are looting the early viewers with high prices 😛

    Follow your favourite category in Vimeo for good movies and coke studio for good songs 😀

    • That is a very convincing explanation:) I heard that there used to be a separate way of waging very very long ago- Shares in the earnings of each cinema after its release . May be that will work now because they are forced to deliver good content.

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