t takes a lot for Bollywood to veer away from tried and tested formulas. This year was no different, except a few aberrations that sort of smacked of the changing mindsets within the industry. We prefer to call it turning points. Here are five of them.
1. The failure of Action Jackson, and the success of Sulemani Keeda
Who would have thought before the release of Sulemani Keeda that it could cause a ripple or two on the box office, especially since it was pitted against a giant called Action Jackson. Sulemani Keeda not only won hearts but also reinstated our faith in quality content. The film did one more thing: It showed us that David can actually kill Goliath.
Vishal Bhardwaj’s Haider too did the same. It not only stood its ground in the face of the onslaught by Hrithik Roshan's Bang Bang, it even went on to win the box office battle.
Okay, it wasn't as small as Sulemani Keeda, but Shahid Kapoor's fans were a demoralised lot just before the film's release when it was revealed that Haider was left with far too few screens on D-day. In the end, however, Haider had the last laugh: Picking up business on word of mouth publicity within three days of release and in the end, like they say, Haider made history!
Sulemani Keeda and Haider's successes were just the kind of boost Bollywood's fringe players needed to quote next time naysayers stopped them from attempting a 'different' film.
2. The mounting satellite prices
Till a couple of years ago, Fridays used to be just another day in the week for big-pocket producers: They'd mostly break even before their films released. The money film channels were willing to pay to get the satellite rights contributed heavily to it. This year, though, the trend reversed. The channels started insisting they'd talk money only after seeing the film's performance at the BO. In other words, it meant that if the film turned out to be a dud, the makers were never going to recover their money. There's more to this business. Filmmakers realised that since their negotiating power was diminishing with each passing week, they were willing to get rid of their films as soon as they could. This has made new films available to the general audience sooner than they expected. Also, this has made the box-office strictly confined to first three days.
3. The changing media strategy
The Rs. 100 crore club is no more an elusive one. Now, the marketers are pushing the envelope and setting new benchmarks. This has changed the filmmakers’ perspective towards media, especially the national media. They now engage with media even when their films are not hitting the screens, but this has also started a big-bad number game and sometimes the media falls victim to it. If you’re able to prove on papers that your film is a hit, people are bound to believe and further spread it. Especially when there are no reliable check points for those over-hyped BO figures.
4. Infusion of foreign films into key Indian markets
There was a time when you wouldn’t have recognised a direct lift-up from a popular Western film. Times changed in 2014. Now, big Hollywood studios are releasing their films simultaneously in the West and India. Normally they avoid clash with any big starrer Bollywood film but the love that the Indian viewers have shown towards Fast and Furious 6, MI 4, Interstellar and The Hobbit 3, is soon going to force Hindi film producers to come up with original and better content. It has to be done swiftly otherwise people like Benedict Cumberbatch and Christian Bale will start dictating the popular choice in India as well. On second thoughts, hasn’t this process already started?
5. National Award for Rajkummar Rao/Deepika row
Both these events are going to leave their imprints on our psyche for long. Rajkummar Rao won the National Award for Shahid and that paved a way for brave youngsters who perceive cinema ‘differently’. The new storytellers are not as worried about their identity after their first film as they were some five years ago. They now know that if they will come up with a critically acclaimed film they will remain in the game.
The Deepika Padukone versus a national daily controversy brought the spotlight on the ethical part of being a public figure. This will turn out to be a double-edged sword in due course of time as both the parties, celebrities and the media, would be forced to leave their hypocrisies behind.