MASALA FILMS: SOME RANDOM THOUGHTS WHILE WATCHING KARMA

(While watching Karma  – a Hindi blockbuster movie by Subhash Ghai, starring Dilip Kumar, Nutan, Anil Kapoor, Naseeruddin Shah, Jackie Shroff, Anupam Kher, Sridevi and Poonam Dhillon)

Some of the Hindi blockbuster movies made by some of the biggest names in the industry – the A-league directors – and starring some of the biggest actors – contradict the ‘fact’ that cinema is a serious communication tool – though indeed it is.

It is, in fact, the most serious communication tool for ‘soft power’ projections, exploited exceedingly well by the United States of America.

We may not know what is Scotland Yard or RAW but we certainly know what is FBI or what is CIA. Even Israel has done well on that front. People the world over know what is Mossad. We may not know ISRO or ESA but we certainly know what is NASA.

Anyway, ‘masala’ is a tried and tasted genre of filmmaking in India – a melodrama of action, comedy and romance. Here, with this genre, that is an unspoken norm in films across India, filmmakers aim for an entertainment product that can give them handsome return. In doing so, they try to stuff every ‘hit’ formula in products (films), irrespective of the elements of logic, to pull the cinema-goers.

A big production house, a famed director, the ivy-league actors, a good music and now a days, an efficient marketing – any of these elements or a combination of these elements can ensure handsome return for a ‘masala’ movie – even if the elements of logic are largely or completely ignored.

A holistic treatment for a ‘masala’ movie, something that we see in the cult Hindi hit Sholay, is not found in most of the films. And that is the case with this movie also.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

TEAM PK THANKS VOLUNTEERS OF HINDU OUTFITS FOR THEIR TIMELY SUPPORT

Though it was a tough day, with important news developments like the court decision on discharge plea of Amit Shah, BJP’s national president, Narendra Modi’s Number 2, second most powerful figure of the political establishment running India now, from charges in Sohrabuddin and Tulsi Prajapati fake encounters; the ongoing India-Australia test match; and the ongoing developments in missing AirAsia flight incident, that was bound to take the airwaves time away, the team behind PK, the movie, expressed its gratitude to the round of much needed publicity that accrued to it in past few days.

Their spirit of recognizing self-motivated and selfless efforts remained undaunted, when, in the end, even the reduced coverage that was expected, didn’t come after the shocking news of unexpected resignation’ of Mahendra Singh Dhoni from test cricket swept the agenda of the day.

The Team PK sent praising notes of their heartfelt thanks to the top leadership and members of outfits like Hindu Yuva Vahini, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal, Hindu Mahasabha and many others who have been working relentlessly making outreach of PK even wider, when the movie was fading in appeal. Also, the team has sent specially packaged messages to express its feelings to Ramdev and Subramanian Swamy, the two stalwarts of the pack.

After all, because of their efforts, the movie is again in news, is registering more footfalls and is headed for more views.

Though PK, the movie, was an ‘inspired’ production with less of original elements, including the idea, the narrative was developed well around a subject of mass-importance and thus mass-appeal – religion and its quirky and ostentatious elements – and the Team PK hoped to cash on Aamir Khan’s star-power, Rajkumar Hirani’s track-record and a well-crafted marketing strategy to enter the big league, the super-blockbuster league of Indian Cinema, with earning ranging in hundreds of crores.

It worked well, initially, with the star-power, the narrative and the hype keeping the cash stacking up. But, being not the first time, with ample gyaan and slow pace in the 2nd half, it soon became clear that the narrative was not expected to get to the ‘super-blockbuster’ status – until the push to its 2nd life arrived.

As expected, after the days of hype and marketing influence were over, the cash inflow started flattening out and was well on the way to get into the stagnation zone.

And then, it happened. The 2nd life arrived, and in style, keeping the nation and the audiences hooked to the TV screens with intensely debated discourses on the movie.

The Good Samaritans, from the evergreen, overworking Hindu fundamentalist outfits, jumped in the fray, carefully picking elements from the movie to enlighten the nation, pushing more to watch the movie, to know about the elements they were highlighting. There are even the sort of viewers who had watched it earlier but are going to watch it again as they could not notice the element(s) in the context these ‘Good Samaritan publicists’ are presenting.

And there could not be a better timing. It is perfectly opportune, maximizing the resource utilization.

After all, had it coincided with the release, it would have wasted the resources used in marketing and promotion of the movie. Coming after the days that could be attributed to the ‘influence of marketers’, the well crafted, coordinated and increasingly synchronized move is a brilliant exercise in exercising the Public Relations tools.

After the first wave lost its appeal, fully exhausting its capacity levels, the second wave, that was voluntary in nature and had no official access and took time to research and study the finer elements of the PK content to be used as the central themes of their campaigns, had found the opportunity to chip in and they did it with full commitment, and too, without informing the production house and commercial stakeholders of the movie. Such exemplary selflessness is rare and is to be given due notice as has been happening.

Now, it is certainly debatable that how much the movie has earned so far, with differing figures putting the movie in different leagues – from Rs. 200 crore to over Rs. 400 crore clubs (hyped up box-office collections, that is again an increasingly used brilliant film marketing tool) – but it is clearly visible that its cash-pile is adding more stacks now, and at a handsome pace.

And the team that has produced a sensible cinema in PK, the movie, cannot be expected to act insensibly, by not saying thanks to these altruistic well-wishers.

And it also came with perfect timing. The ‘tomorrow’ could not have been better than the ‘today’ to say thanks as it was a frustrating day for the volunteers with Dhoni’s resignation stealing the show and the airwaves even if they worked harder and launched the campaign in many other cities.

The words of recognition, appreciation and gratitude by the Team PK will certainly lift their mood and morale up from today’s frustration and would recharge them for a more action-packed tomorrow.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

MISFIT BARE BRICKS WALL, LADY, ASPIRING-RAPIST, AND ELEPHANT THE SAVIOUR..

In a palatial mansion, well fortified, with guards and otherwise, there is a wall, unplastered, of single row of bricks, looking ugly and totally out of place, like a blot on a serene landscape, like a patch on an Armani suit, waiting to be razed down.

On the inside of the wall, the villain, clad in a horse-riding sort of outfit, is vigorously trying to rape a woman. The woman is crying for help, in the mansion, guarded by a number of goondas in all shapes, sizes and colours.

Tension is building. Anger is simmering. When it reaches to the helping ears, away somewhere, riding on the waves of telepathy, it starts boiling. And the helping ears rush to help.

A big bang!! A loud noise is splashed across.

And the ugly, out of place bare bricks wall is suddenly down, receiving it’s freedom, away from this palatial mansion that is phony by the standards of the existence of the wall.

Now, the helping ears are in, right on the job, righteously and earnestly, riding on the waves of emotionally charged energy.

An elephant in teens is in on rampage in the mansion, beating and throwing the goondas here and there, chasing the ‘aspiring rapist’ owner of the mansion.

He is the saviour and he is here now. The tension is reaching its crescendo. Chairs are clutched more tightly and eyes are fixated more emotively.

Though the goons are giving him a tough fight, he is outmatching them, making whirlwind rounds of the hall of the mansion, it’s rooms, even running up the stairs.

As the good Vs evil fight progresses, more and more goondas are biting dust.

Now, the boiling point of anger is right here.

And the intensity of it has sent the goondas packing, broken and aching. Desperate and running, the ‘aspiring-rapist’ reaches to his gun somehow and is now taking aim.

There is pin drop silence in the ambience. The watchers have left grazing midway.

But..but, while taking aim, the daddy goonda, the ‘aspiring-rapist’ had not seen the elephant in teens reaching right on his neck, charging towards him bringing down the pillars of the mansion in the hall, already uprooted by the sheer force of the teen elephant’s anger and waiting to be pushed only to clear the way.

The saviour is upon him now, ready to snatch the gun. And lo n behold! The gun is snatched and thrown away by the saviour. The next moment, the daddy goonda is within full grip of our teen hero. In a stylishly choreographed move, he tosses the villain up and away.

Bang again! A glass wall is smashed down and the daddy goonda is on the floor of the next hall of the palatial mansion.

Now bruised and devoid of his supporting brigade, fear of life takes over him. He sees his death in the ferocious eyes of the saviour. He makes a speedy drift to run away, to find a way out, and there he goes, saving his life from the ongoing wrath of the saviour.

The atmosphere is emotionally supercharged now.

Finding the ground cleared, now the saviour, the elephant in teens, looks back for the lady and here she is, safe and unharmed.

It releases the tension of the grazers and they are back munching while watching the emotional reunion of the caller and the called.

Tears are in their natural free flow mode. Many of the viewers in the theatre are clapping, with tearful eyes. Some of them have left even their seats in the excitement of the emotionally supercharged ambience.

The chatter, relieved and excited at the same time, is praising the saviour for his heroism and its timeliness while graduating to the next scene.

The Classic Indian Masala Cinema
Jai Ho Jai Ho

— thoughts, forced to go expressive, while watching a random movie scene —

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

FILM GYAN: SCHOLASTICS OF INDIAN FILM INDUSTRY

I remember an answer by the film star Jeetendra that I had heard many years ago while watching random programmes on TV. I don’t exactly remember when but it should be in 90s.

It was about his decision to become an actor. Jeetendra said – after passing B.A. (Bachelor of Arts) in Third Division, I didn’t not have any other option but to join the film industry – where would else I could find a job?

So candid a confession! And it reflects the reality of the Indian film stars (the lead pairs on screen-but not limited to them). When asked about their academic credentials, they don’t have much to talk about. And few of them are as candid as Jeetendra.

I don’t follow film celebrities and content on them. Even then, I can write this much. Conservatively and safely, it is a dicey area for most of them they don’t care about. And with increasing run of ‘film dynasties’ the situation has worsened (stagnated) even further.

But again, the problem is not so narrow in its impact area. And interestingly, the problem is not a problem at all when seen from the perspective of the larger film fraternity.

After all, Indian film industry produces crap in bunches and ‘intelligent, meaningful cinema’ is a feast that is served once in a while.

Yes, there are academically strong and ‘intellectually sound’ film industry professionals, but they are in absolute minority, usually restricted to the expertise areas of filmmaking like direction, concept and design, content research, visualization, art direction, song writing and marketing. Some of them are even in acting.

But for the larger breed, from dynasties to the lot who populate the cast and crew of the crap being produced, year after year, from North to South, from East to West, the crap that is almost the 95% of the total content produced, the scholastics are as dumb a subject to discuss as the ‘elements of intelligent, meaningful cinema’ in the films produced by the ‘elite’ class.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/