Debate 'Bollywood Today' - Corporatization or organized scheming and manipulation? [Part 1]

By Joginder Tuteja, Bollywood Hungama News Network

This had to happen. A chunk of industry which was talking about the 'evil' of corporate world (especially the ones that were believed to be having no business to be making movies) resulting in rotting of Bollywood has now come out in open. Of course there were collective failure of much hyped films like Drona, Love Story 2050, Yuvvraaj and 'Karzzzz' (all of which were either produced, backed or acquired by corporate houses) that had set the ground for a debate around whether corporate world is burst or just about to burst.

Saawariya, which had released in 2007, had started it all while raising the question around foreign studios entering Bollywood with big money. And now, within 14 months of the release of Saawariya, Chandni Chowk to China, which saw Warner Bros. aiming for a solid foundation, has made quite a few industry followers go on record with their views about corporatization of Bollywood world. In this two-part Exclusive Feature in Bollywood Hungama, Joginder Tuteja kick-starts the debate and seeks point of view of independent film makers as well as those who belong to the corporate world or are making films with them.

"The bubble still exists though the myth of big money is over. It's the time of high concept - low cost films", says Anurag Kashyap whose Dev D is produced by UTV Spot Boy and is eyeing a 6th February release. Ramesh Taurani of TIPS too maintains the same stand by saying "I don't think the corporate bubble has burst. However, I must say that reality has (thankfully) crept back into the industry. In the year gone by, we have seen losses being made not only by flop films but also several super hit films."

He does make a point here because there have been murmurs that even a biggie like Singh Is Kinng didn't make profits for a distributor or two. Though the quantum of the money being lost on the project is not something that has been discussed so far (since the film did make good money for majority of it's investors), no distributor going on record about the losses only makes the claim further redundant.

Says Vipul Shah, the producer of the Anees Bazmee- directed Singh Is Kinng, "With movies like Singh Is Kinng, Ghajini and Golmaal Returns, distribution house Indian Films has become extremely strong distributor. So I would disagree if someone starts speculating that a bubble was being created with the entry of corporate world and is now getting burst."

Interestingly, his next release London Dreams was said to have been acquired by Indian Films for an astronomical 120 crores. Though trade believes that this figure has been pulled down now, an official statement on this is yet to be made. However, Indian Films is not the only corporate house that Vipul is working with as he has also signed a two film deal with 20th Century Fox which is looking at entering the Bollywood market. Buzz is that at least one of them would feature Akshay Kumar (with whom Vipul has earlier made Aankhen, Waqt, Namaste London and Singh Is Kinng) and would be set on a mega budget due to the ton loads of special effects that it promises to carry.

Mukesh Bhatt, whose Raaz - The Mystery Continues, is releasing this weekend is expectedly vocal in his displeasure with the corporate world, "The bubble has certainly burst. There was so much of artificial hype that was created; things were being inflated. This had to happen at some point or time or another. People should get into reality check and it is introspection time for the whole industry. Everyone has to come together and the basics of economics have to be developed."

Vivek Agnihotri isn't far behind when it comes to being frank about his view around the changing scenario of Bollywood in today's world. He doesn't blame it all on the so-called 'corporate bubble' but insists that money instead of ideas was turning out to be focal point of movie making. "I don't know if the corporate bubble has burst but yes, a bubble has certainly burst". Not mincing any words, he goes on to add, "It was a cancerous bubble which emerged due to fictitious hype and lack of assessment of potential. A game of highly projected figures to lure investors gave impetus to organized scheming and manipulation."

Someone like Sajid Khan, who has worked with independent producer Sajid Nadiadwala for both Heyy Babyy and soon to get on floors Housefull, has his own point of view about the entry of corporate houses in Bollywood. He says, "Most corporates believe in producing a large number of films and releasing them on their own. Due to this, the loss or profit is greater. Off late, it is unfortunate because it is turning out to be 'loss' and more 'loss' because of the market crash."

Satellite revenue, something that was being looked as a goldmine, has considerably gone down as well (as per industry followers, it is as low as 30% of what was being in the offering till about 6-9 months) that has proven to be the final nail in the coffin. "That's exactly the case", asserts Sajid, "Besides audio market, which is anyways in the doldrums, the satellite market has crashed too. Since satellite is completely dependent on advertisers (which are mostly MNCs) and these companies are anyways facing the market heat due to recession, how could you expect them to shell out money? Their budget cuts are eventually affecting everyone, which down the line impacts the corporate world behind movies."

Visit this space tomorrow to see the second and concluding part of the debate

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