MUMBAI: Bollywood filmmakers and directors – Ramesh Sippy, Shimit Amin, Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Sudhir Mishra – put their heads together at FICCI FRAMES to answer the million dollar question: What kind of film works for today’s audiences?
Chopra, who has to his production and direction credit films like Parinda, 1942: A Love Story, the Munna Bhai series, Eklavya and Mission Kashmir, pointed out that was no simple or ready answer as to the audience preferences.
“All we try to do is to make a film that we believe in, and we try to be honest to our art. While it is easy to put a finger, at hindsight, with the aid of statistics and trends, on the kind of films that should be made, the fact is that when a film maker sets out to make a film, it is his passion and belief that urges him forward. The truth is that even after seeing a film it is not always possible to predict how it will do at the box office. Sholay and Munna Bhai, were cases in point, which opened to small audiences for weeks, but later blossomed into blockbusters,” he pointed out.
Amin, the director and editor of Chak De! India and Ab Tak Chappan echoed Chopra’s sentiments. “Filmmaking is a passion. There has to be something crazy in the filmmaker. It is an endless game, but so long as there is passion to keep trying and be innovative, we, as film makers, will derive satisfaction,” he said.
Mishra likened film making to an “act of arrogance”, backed hopefully by a craft, knowledge and sensitivity. “A film should be judged by its impact on the people. If the audiences leave the cinema hall happy, the film should be rated as good. That’s the yardstick,” he said.
Ramesh Sippy of Sholay fame, who moderated the panel discussion, felt there was no such thing as an ideal film. “Yes, there was a time when films were made to appeal to as wide a section of people as possible. That was the era of formula films. It worked for a while, but people became fed up with such stereotypical films.”
Sippy agreed that there were too many people deciding what is right and what is wrong. “But a good filmmaker is one who keeps his counsel and does what he thinks is right,” he observed.
Giving the international perspective was Film Producers’ Guild of the UK CEO David Martin, who said that trends emanating from the UK and the US showed that the younger set preferred the big-scale, big-banner, visual effects-driven movies, while the older people chose to see drama with high production value. The challenge, he said, was how new partnerships can be developed on a global scale which maximize the ‘big bang’ at the least cost.