Bollywood welcomes Imran, Harman with open arms

Mumbai, July 6 (IANS) With their respective debut movies having already hit the screen Friday, Imran Khan and Harman Baweja have arrived, literally and figuratively. The industry is more than happy to get two new faces as it feels that the newcomers will ease the situation a bit for independent filmmakers.

"Of course, they are a welcome addition. Why only two, the industry needs, at least, 20 stars like Imran Khan and Harman Baweja. It needs them for the survival of the independent producers, especially," Anil Nagrath, Bollywood production consultant, told IANS.

Maybe, unlike many others before them, Harman and Imran have reached stardom too quickly and too easily, courtesy their respective mentors.

In Harman's case, it was his filmmaker father, Harry Baweja, who moulded his career. Imran, of course, was relentlessly and a little too indulgently promoted by his meticulous actor-producer uncle Aamir Khan. To good effect, as it has been proved!

In Imran, Bollywood has got a brand new star. And whatever may be the box-office fate of "Love Story 2050," Harman, too, has proved that he is very much "star material".

"That both could endear themselves to the audiences instantly is a proof of the fact that they have it in them to carve out their own niches in Bollywood. But give them some time," said casting director Abhimanyu.

Of course, Bollywood's production sector is generally happy that these two newcomers have been able to make the grade. Getting two additional stars means a lot to producers.

"Bollywood always had a paucity of stars. But it is increasingly being felt now because unlike in the past, when non-star-cast films could also do reasonable business, today, they don't even sell. Bollywood market dynamics have changed drastically of late," said Nagrath.

Today, most producers try to sign the few saleable stars that are available. As demands on the stars growing, this has resulted in price escalation on all fronts, directly and indirectly.

"Escalating star price and non-availability of their dates have impacted the independent producers the most. Many of them have already shut shops. Few that are remaining are making films only at the behest of the corporate entities, which have virtually taken over Bollywood," Nagrath explained.

But as soon as the stars hit the marquee and become saleable commodities, the corporate houses quickly sign deals with them, offering them prices that are beyond the reach of the independent producers.

Nagrath admits that the studio model introduced by the corporate entities is going to stay in Bollywood.

"But, ultimately, it is the content that makes a good movie and that can only be provided by the independent producers," he said.

Elaborating, he added that the independent producers wanting to make movies with reigning stars might have to enter into tie-up agreements with corporate houses, but those would be their films.

"This is the way they do it in Hollywood. Even a filmmaker like Steven Spielberg had to partner, first with Universal and then with Paramount. There are constraints, but one has to live with it," Nagrath stressed.

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