Debate 'Bollywood Today' - Corporatisation or organized scheming and manipulation? [Part 2]


By Joginder Tuteja, Bollywood Hungama News Network

Yesterday we saw quite a few industry followers going on record with their views about corporatisation of Bollywood world. Joginder Tuteja continues the debate in the second and concluding part of this Exclusive Feature at Bollywood Hungama.

Even though quite a few corporate houses have gone 'Red' in the year gone by, established 'desi' production house like Yash Raj Films (which was reeling under the failure of back to back films) did bounce back in a huge way with a blockbuster Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi while Dharma Productions kept it's head high with Dostana. This is where Vishal Dadlani of Vishal-Shekhar duo brings in a different spin to the tale, "Rather than being worried about corporate bubble getting burst, I would rather look at the positive side of affairs. I think it's a good time for those people who know what they're doing. Yash Raj Films, Dharma Productions and Aamir Khan have just proved that. I'm sure Shah Rukh Khan will rock again with Billu Barber too. With films doing big business, stars and good technicians continue to be paid well."

He doesn't have kind words for those though who went on to pump big money and backed projects just because they felt that a big star, a big platform and big money could make a film a success. "Well, people who spent money randomly on crappy scripts have lost their shirts", he says in an amused tone, "I'm sorry to say it, but this was necessary to an extent. Now at least only the genuine and strong players will make it to the other side of this slowdown."

Now that's something that augers well with UTV that has seen a near cent percent success rate in year 2008. With each of their films becoming a commercial success, a critical success or a combination of both, UTV has been in a much stronger position than quite a few of its competitors. Siddharth Roy Kapur, Executive Vice President - Marketing, Distribution and Syndication at UTV comments, "The advent of recession has actually helped the industry. It has come at the right time because industry was in a situation when even the biggest of money spinners couldn't guarantee the acquisition cost. We were lucky to have a very good success rate in the year gone by but you can never be always sure every year. With the current state that the industry is in, it is time for all of us to have our feet on ground, reassess things and continue to be focused."

The corporate world does find a supporter though and that too from a man who has made movies independently over the years and seen a better success ratio than most. Says producer and director Suneel Darshan, "A fracture or a bad cold is not fatal and with necessary remedy, it can be treated immediately. I'm confident of their survival." Vipul Shah adds in the same tone, "I am sure that in 2009, we will see numerous corporates consolidating their position. 2008 may not have been good for many but I can see them bouncing back with movies to come."

Says Siddharth Roy Kapur, Executive Vice President - Marketing, Distribution and Syndication at UTV, the only corporate house to have seen a near cent percent success rate in the year gone by, "If we were able to achieve that, it wasn't something that happened overnight. We were working in this direction for years and it paid off. We have focused on stories and scripts and worked with filmmakers who have shared a common vision. Now these could be established directors like Ashutosh Gowariker (Jodhaa Akbar) and Madhur Bhandarkar (Fashion) or relative newcomers like Dibakar Banerjee (Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! ) or Neeraj Pandey (A Wednesday). Also, we have paid utmost attention on marketing and distribution aspect of things."

However, he understands that it can't be a rosy picture every year. "You have to remain focused though because by default you can't score a 10 out of 10 every time, We have 15 films coming up in next 15 months and for us to keep the momentum on, we have to stay rooted on ground."

Everyone is united in the belief though that it's only big stories and content that are going to stay. Says Vivek Agnihotri, "Of course that's the bottom line at the end of the day. We are in the business of stories and talent and no amount of money or corporatization can ever replace it." Ramesh Taurani has a similar point to make, "Content is finally getting its respect and now with more exciting films being made at the right cost, the business will become better. I am sure sensible corporates are here to stay."

Anees Bazmee, the filmmaker who has delivered three huge money spinners in a row - Singh Is Kinng, Welcome and No Entry - and is in the wish list of majority of actors/producers in the town, says that everyone should be willingly taking a price cut. "Everyone should be able to survive well in the industry. You can't and should not be looking at corporate world to be pumping big money all the while. Glad that recession happened because this is at least leading to correction. The price being offered was unimaginable and a fall like this was imminent", says Bazmee, who himself was rumored to have been offered as much as 50 crores + for a three movie contract with a leading corporate house within a fortnight of the success of Singh Is Kinng.

Mukesh Bhatt has the final word on the current state that the industry finds itself in, "They have destroyed the industry by paying ridiculous paychecks to stars. In the process of doing so, they have destroyed themselves as well as others. I am not surprised with the state that they are in today because this had to happen. Corporate houses consist of executives who know nothing about filmmaking business. Now just because they had money, they started dictating terms to shoot their fantasies. Sorry, this always had to be disastrous."