As more and more ‘different’ films do well, both critically and financially, one thing is clear- the old think tanks (read gasbags) of the film industry don’t know what is what. The filmi dhandawalle – those unseen punters, those guys who buy and sell films and make projects are about as clueless as the next person. I would dare to say that they might even be more clueless as they have forgotten, maybe they never learnt, to see a film for its content. They only evaluate it in terms of the conventional logic handed down to them in the form of 2nd or 3rd hand knowledge.
The conventional logic of big name actors, masala entertainment (songs & dance, fights and stunts), big production values and big promotions doesn’t really work anymore though they are still the benchmark for buying and selling films. In the last few months I’ve met a set of bewildered old school guys who are looking to find a convenient logic in the way the business works today. As there are no fundamentals their logic floats around without an anchor. They rubbish anything they’ve not seen before. I’ve seen many small films written off at first- case in point is ‘PEEPLI LIVE’. I’ve heard it being called a documentary, a fringe film meant only for the film festivals, etc. Then all of a sudden when the film started to pick up steam and its promotions began to connect with audiences the same people started saying- it is Aamir’s magic, he is the badshah of promotions, etc. They completely missed one basic fact- that ‘PEEPLI LIVE’ looks interesting. Audiences are interested in it because it holds the promise of engagement, of entertainment. It doesn’t matter to the audience that this promise doesn’t come packaged with the usual masala or even big production values.
So, is there a lesson in all of this for the struggling filmmaker? A clear message I see is that films need to be made from the heart. This little message escapes most filmi businessmen. So, the next time a knowledgeable filmwalla tells you something about your script or your casting choices or your film, I would suggest listening to your own heart instead. At least there is a 50% chance of it being right.