Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chef or Dish?

As Indians we are prone to hero-worship in everything we do.
Its the same for all the 3 things that people in this country are passionate about. Cricket, Films and Politics.
I might be able to write a trilogy on these someday (three is such a nice round figure). I wanted to write about films for now.

Every film needs starpower to pull in crowds. Distributors will not touch films which cannot guarantee full houses for the first 2 weeks.
Hence we need some power hungry, controversy brewing, narccistic beast in the movie for sure.
There is a huge marketing budget about half the cost of making the movie itself. A couple of weeks before the release the "stars" appear in various talk shows and reality shows trying to prove to people that they are as ordinary as any of the common junta. Theres also some mud slingning at rivals. Nowadays, even the mudslinging has turned to cast members of the same team (We all know the ashutosh-priyanka spat).
All this ensures that people read, hear, see news about this movie all over he place. And lo behold the cinema halls are choked with fans and the money is recovered, and some mindless crap is sold as success.

I believe the real heroes of good cinema are the directors. They are the visionaries who can actually be the difference between a classic and tasteless cinema. I used to watch movies for the actors who appear in them. But now the directors name is the most important one for me on a movie poster. Sure some of them fall for the trap and sell themselves to commercial cinema as the demand for weekend hits is way more than the demand for mind-stirring cinemas. I loved Ashutosh Gowariker's Swades. Its probably one of the 2 movies in which I can stand watching SRK. But even he comes up with duds like What's your Rashee. I loved Black Friday and Dev-D. But I thought that No Smoking was a very self indulgent film that did not take into account the needs of the viewer. But I would still look forward to the next movie from these directors because I know there is honesty in their work. They are dedicated to cinema and not to the masses. Balachander and Mani Ratnam are two other powerful names in Tamil cinema.

One actor stands out for me though. Abhay Deol has got the most wonderful talent of picking up the right movies. I believe he must be amazing at reading scripts and visualising what the director plans to paint. I loved Manorama, Dev-D, Socha na tha and I need to watch the rest of his movies soon. I would go and watch his movie without even reading any reviews. I cant wait enough to lay my eyes on Road Movie. The fact that it is said to be inspired by Cinema Paradiso only makes it more intriguing. He reminds me of the Kamal Hassan of years ago. When he made socially relevant films and you would know that you will not be disappointed by him. He has fallen to the Hype around his personality and is currently making cinema to generate buzz around his name. Still I would like to see what his 2 unfinished works (Marudhanayagam and Marmayogi) look like.

If you appreciate good cinema, try giving more credit to the Directors than the stars. Appreciate the chef not the dish :)

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