The success of films such as Vicky Donor and Kahaani, which had modest budgets and no big stars, can pave the way for the death of the “star system” in Bollywood. So believes Karan Johar, the director famous for making star-studded blockbusters and promoting newcomers as “star material”.
At the session ‘Celebrating 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The Road Ahead’, with directors Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar and veteran actor Dhritiman Chatterjee on the panel, Johar’s comment stood out. Especially in the current scenario, where the “100 crore club” of actors rules the roost in the film industry.
But even as original films are emerging as an alternative to plotless potboilers, obstacles such as tighter censorship and intolerance towards different opinions were threatening to stifle their growth, said Chatterjee.
He explained that while the political cinema of Mrinal Sen and Satyajit Ray received acclaim during the 1960s and 1970s, the same was unlikely to happen today. Even if such content was approved by the censors, these films would later face the ire of certain sections of society, he added.
Dibakar joined in, saying that although all films were supposed to be watched by five or six “neutral” people on a committee before being cleared, he had been led to believe that they were part of lobbying groups. When such was the case, he wondered how five or six people in a country of billions could decide what films should or should not be watched by the audience.