FICCI FRAMES: Big budgets and bigger flops: What ails our movies?

MUMBAI: Despite having the moolah, the star power coupled with all the hype and hoopla that surrounds the marketing and promotions, why does our film industry churn out more flops than hits every year?

At the first day of FICCI FRAMES, filmmakers discussed the reasons why some big budget movies fail to work at the box office despite having all the ingredients that it takes to be a hit. IIM Bangalore professor Dr. S Raghunath said, "Movie making is about generating memorability. One needs to grab the attention of those who like to be entertained. A film campaign must win the approval of the top production team, director and star. Films are a product and the key lies in marketing."

Veteran film producer and director Ramesh ‘Sholay’ Sippy had no qualms in admitting that the latest film produced under his banner – Chandni Chowk To China – was a big flop despite having what it takes to make a hit film. "CC2C was greenlit because we felt that it had all the necessary ingredients. We had Akshay Kumar, a good director and Warner Bros as partners. The movie was acquired by them and they gave it a solid release but money could not buy success. Our confidence was false and I have to take the first blame it because I approved the project." Talking about Indian cinema’s cult classic Sholay, Sippy said that he had planned to make the film on a budget of Rs 1 crore in 1975, which was a huge amount in those days. However, his mantra while making the movie was – ‘No Compromise.’ "The industry thought I had gone mad and it was impossible to recover the money. I started to make the film and finally the budget crept to an incredible Rs 3 crore. My father had the confidence in me. I don’t think any other producer would ever have let this film go on. One could ask the questions – Could we justify this? Was it the correct thing to do? The fact is that if Sholay hadn’t been made the way it was and in the budget it was made in, it would never have been Sholay. The golden rule is – ‘There are no rules’. The next film I made was Shaan, for which the budget was double than that of Sholay but did it double the business? No. We recovered costs but eventually over a period of time," Sippy explained.

Putting forth his point of view, producer – director Sanjay Gupta said, "It is not just the audience that decides whether a film is a hit or flop. With the exception of 3 Idiots, all movies that have been declared hits over the last one year, have all lost money. There were several reasons for the downturn – the markets crashed leading to recession and the multiplexes and producer impasse amongst other things lead to a bad environment to release films."

Voicing his woe against the Indian multiplexes, Gupta added that one of the reasons why films are declared flops is because multiplexes are unwilling to bring down the ticket rates. "Why should the consumer pay the same amount of money to watch a small budget movie as they paid for 3 Idiots or My Name Is Khan? It’s ironic that it was the multiplex boon, which gave birth to this alternate cinema and today they are refusing to release those very films," he said.

Taare Zameen Par writer and actor Amol Gupte added, "It is not the big idea that makes a film successful. It is the ‘big man’ supporting the big idea that leads to a film being successful." Director Kabir Khan opined that there needed to be a balance of creativity and budget while making a film. "Approximately 40 – 50 per cent of a film’s budget goes in as the cost of an actor. This is ridiculous. We need to be aware of the kind of budgets that go into making a particular kind of film, only then will it will be a viable proposition. The fact that New York was made on a budget of Rs 22 crores, made it a successful film. If it was made in Rs 40 crores then it would have been a flop."

In conclusion, speaking about how one could avoid making a film like CC2C, Sippy said, "You need a certain freedom of budget but you owe it to the investors to try and make your film according to a certain budget so that there is a chance of recovery. Discipline in budgets is important but it’s not the most important thing. You need to connect to the audience with your film – that’s the most important thing."

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