A much hyped, multi ‘starred’ behemoth of a movie released. And crashed. I wasn’t surprised, nor were most people I spoke to (college kids, avid watchers etc). After all the so called stars of the film were just 6 awesome reasons to not go for the film (did nobody go to math class? -1 + -1 becomes -2 not 0 J). Plus it was a rehash (with permission as if that makes it any better) of a classic Hollywood blockbuster which everyone’s already seen. So why am I supposed to be excited about seeing Neil Mukesh who has a hard enough time being a decent Neil Mukesh attempt to be a bad Ed Norton? But the blokes with the bucks were shocked and just couldn’t understand how a perfectly ‘commercial’ proposition like this could fail. And that’s depressing and scary.
And then I saw episode 1 of the new season of Sherlock (BBC). First with considerable effort I lifted my jaw from the floor where it had dropped to sometime in the first 100 seconds of the show. Then I tried to pick up the fragments of my creative ego which had been pretty much ground to the dust by the level of writing, shooting, editing, storytelling I had just witnessed. Feeling like an ant looking at elephant is one thing, feeling like a unicellular protozoa looking at a 220 ton Bruhathkayosaurus, well…
So much to learn, so far to go before one can even step into the playing field that rest of the film making world outside this country inhabits. I mean think about the guys behind Sherlock – their first season was just 3 episodes, each one a masterpiece. Then they took about a year and a half to write, shoot and post produce 3 more episodes. And that’s it. This is the level of their passion, dedication, and lack of greed. Which is why their TV kicks the ass of most movies. Hats off to the Brits.
Already not in a good place I read that a certain local show wherein each episode exhibits infinite creativity on the part of the makers as to myriad ways through which a man can physically, mentally, emotionally torture and harrow his wife is rocking the ratings. Put simply, we as an audience are absolutely delighting in watching a young, sweet, woman being burnt, electrocuted, cut, hit and God knows what else. And the bulk of the people watching and promoting this show are women. Not men, not sadistic spouse abusers, not aspiring serial killers but normal women – wives, mothers, perhaps who even have experienced directly or through someone they know – some form of abuse. This is what we manufacture in the name of entertainment…
So as you can expect I was feeling pretty shit about myself, about the industry I’m in, our utter lack of craft, ambition and any desire to elevate us to a point where a global audience would want to watch us. What hope is there if the studios only want to make Players, Ready, Sowbhagyawati and the audiences also lap up the same (Sure they thumbs-ed down Players but neither Ra 1 nor Don 2 died the miserable deaths they should have, did they?)
And then I had a class – 15 odd young kids, who will in a year become directors, writers, studio executives, channel heads. Who are also the principal audience for movies if not TV. As we chatted I realized one thing – they felt the same way I did! They wanted to make and watch shows that could stand up and be counted with Sherlock and Mad Men and Friends and Game of Thrones. They hated Don 2 and Ready and the rest. They couldn’t understand why our industry worked the way it did – why we behaved like a FMCG factory instead of a creative boutique, why we insisted on melodrama instead of emotion, slapstick instead of humour, why our films and TV were populated by caricatures not flesh and blood individuals with real, relatable issues and emotions? I saw their collective distaste, anger and desire for change. And I wasn’t disheartened or depressed anymore.
Sure some of them would sell out. Some of these fires would be extinguished by fat paychecks and a comfortable kursi. But not all. And even if 2 or 3 sparks survived they would be enough to start little fires. Truly that’s all we need. One LSD, one Tere Bin Laden, an Engeyum Eppodu, Udaan. It’s enough to keep this rebellion going.
Then I read about Good Night, Good Morning releasing on the 20th of this month (https://www.facebook.com/goodnightgoodmorning?sk=wall) I hadn’t heard about this film but when I read the premise – An 80 minute phone call between a guy and a girl that travels between eight stages of a relationship in that one night – I was intrigued. Could turn out great, could turn our crap. But the idea got me. It’s unique. It’s challenging. And I for one wanna see what the maker’s done with it. The fact that this film got made is exciting. The fact that it’s getting a release is reason for me to do a WOO HOO YEA YEA dance on the ceiling. Damn right there’s hope.
There’s hope in the two women producers I was introduced to this week who are determined to carve their own niche in this business and make the kind of stuff they want.
There’s hope in the increasing number of actors, writers, directors, film junta who want to join a creative cartel that a few of us kicked off to make the kind of films, TV, web series and shorts we want to see.
There’s hope in the creativity shown in the versions of Kolaveri still coming out. Check out this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_VxFW8rI8Q
There’s hope in the kind of experienced technicians who’re willing to put paying work on the backburner and become part of my Indie film just cause they believe in what my producer and I are doing and in the script.
There’s hope in my producer who just won’t stop trying to find a way to make the film better even if it means him losing sleep, money, expending time and sweat – now there’s an inspiration. J
There’s hope in an audience which shows the middle finger to Players and makes Engeyum Eppodu one of the biggest hits of the year.
There’s hope cause if God has given you a dream, He will also give you the means to realize it.
And let’s face it – nobody wanted to make The Godfather either. Or Star Wars. Or The Matrix. Or Slumdog Millionaire. Or The Hurt Locker. Or Delhi Belly. The only way to make great art is to be cussed and blinkered and insane and just go on doing.
Sounds good to me – Just go on doing…
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