Planet Bollywood
Of Hype and Bollywood
- Rakesh Budhu           Let us know what you think about this feature article

This past year has proven no different for Bollywood. A few ups and downs in terms of grandiose projects and a few surprises from the unexpected. Seems like the past five years in a nutshell. One thing that seems to be taking precedence a bit more, aside from Amitabh Bachchan having consecutive non-important releases one week after the other, is the fact that more and more big releases are releasing quicker and against each other. With immense hype, films like Lakshya, Deewaar, Kyun Ho Gaya Na, Fida, Dil Ne Jise Apna Kahaa etc., are dropping like flies quickly after their release.

Now, I’m not here to argue the box office status of these films—but it is saddening the way Bollywood’s biggest directors invest big finances into big feature films and the outcome turns out to be such a big disaster. Couldn’t something – the most pragmatic—have been done differently? Hype has killed Bollywood immensely—but with the combination of the faulty films being released so quickly, it’s hard to think that these films could have been a success otherwise either. Bollywood films are hyped to the max, by the film makers, by the media, but recently that hype has proven to be all a malefactor for the releases simply because the producers do not know how to utilize it properly.

Why, would a film like Deewaar, which was insured for twenty crores, rush to release when regular films were releasing so quickly after each other? Actors can not control when their films are released but there is no reasonable excuse for a producer thinking about releasing a film starring a grand actor like Amitabh Bachchan after one of his films just released. It is un reasonable and irrespective of how much confidence these directors have in their films, there is no way the audiences are going to want to run to theatres so frequently to see thematically similar films starring the same star. Yes, Bachchan is worthy of this effort, but aside from the fact that times are different, films themselves are also different. I’m sure the general theatre going audience is aware that film makers these days are having trouble making formidably workable and cohesive films. Why waste the time? I sincerely feel a film like Deewaar should have at least waited and given itself a little more time to garner interest, more hype and popularity, and let the hype work for it instead of it working for the hype. That way, even allotting for the inevitable room for disappointment, one could have enjoyed the film for what it was worth without thinking about the next big film that is releasing next week—featuring the same big star. And though for those that do not frequent the theatre regularly, it may seem appealing to have these releases hit the theatre so fast and available on DVD even faster, but I’m pretty sure that was not the producer’s intention by releasing the film so quickly.

After waiting so long for the superlative Dil Chahta Hai, I can’t fathom why Lakshya was released within the blink of an eye. I had very little time to warm up to the soundtrack before the film released, and the soundtrack as itself wasn’t appealing on instance. This combined with the fact that its theme was no so distant from several films recently released, not forgetting the films that it was releasing in close proximity to, Dev, Deewaar, made the film lose a lot of its shine. A little bit longer, even pushed to July which didn’t have that many big releases, would have done the film a bit more justice and once again, would have probably made the film live up to some of its hype.

While the former films were hyped extraordinaire, it was clear that they could have went the critical appealing way vs. mass appealing way, particularly for Lakshya. But the hype was still there. A magnanimous film and one by a director who created a mature film like Dil Chahta Hai should have at least let the hype work in their favor a bit more before releasing their films. Instead, they let hype have the negative effect, and tarnish them completely. But certainly, it could have been different.

On the other hand, you have films which have equally as much hype, like Fida and Kyun Ho Gaya Na which seems like they will be trashed by critics immediately on release, and even they can’t let the hype work in their favor. For all the hype Kyun Ho Gaya Na generated, it is a shame the film couldn’t be worthy of not even half of it. For a Vidhu Vinod Chopra protégé, Samir Karnick couldn’t make a cohesive film for the life of him. The long and boring Kyun Ho Gaya Na was touted to be a big hit, a reel life come real life couple super hit, and unlike Deewaar or Lakshya, the producer actually waited before rushing to feature his film on the big screen. Originally scheduled for a July released, Boney Kapoor let the audience anticipate his film further—but even that wouldn’t work. Quite a shame that “big” films can’t even give viewers a reason to look forward to them.

As for Fida, a film that could have worked even more, the situation was no different than the others. This “Abbas-Mustan” styled thriller had everything working in its favor—much more than Kyun Ho Gaya Na. It had a popular younger star cast, much better than Kyun Ho Gaya Na; it had super hit music which was catching on immensely and it had a subject matter that was your typical romance, something that would attract the general audience. But once more, the fault lies in the immediate release of the film. Having the soundtrack release just shortly before the film released was a major problem, and quite unlike Tips. With songs like “Nazar Nazar” topping the charts, its weird that they didn’t at least let the hype settle in making the film attract more of the audience. Perhaps this would have been better—Fida may have not been this taut thriller but it is a masaladar film which could have worked.

Finally in last week’s release, the Salman Khan starrer ‘Dil Ne Jise Apna Kahaa´, which broke a trend of box office friendly films for the back in action Khan, everyone is questioning what went wrong. The songs were catchy; perhaps not as much as, but almost as catchy as Tere Naam and the cast was appealing—Preity Zinta and Salman Khan have two successful films together. Yet the film has failed at the box office. Of course, a bad film will always have trouble—but releasing so quickly is also what hurt this film. Short lived hype vs. long live hyped is always going to fail and for Salman Khan, the letting the soundtrack catch on and the hype settled is something that has worked for all of his previous releases, particularly Garv and Mujhse Shaadi Karoge.

As another year prepares to close, with about two major weekends of releases being highly anticipated, it is clear Bollywood will continue to face its ups and downs. Even the pre-released schedule for Diwali seems like it is going to be doom, not the good kind, for Bollywood with big and small films all fighting for a piece of the pie. Imagine, all the hype Yash Chopra’s films has generated, and all the hype Sanjay Gupta´s is to generate, what hype is left? Whomever gets a piece of that pie of hype will probably be getting a mere fraction of what’s left of the viewing audience that weekend and will probably be worthy of even less.


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