In a recent interview of Shoojit Sircar after the release of Pink (of Piku and Vicky Donor fame, creative producer of the film) lamented at how certain studios rejected the film. “They didn’t understand the film”, he said.
It’s been a week after Pink has released and it has collected upto 36 crore. Whereas the previous release Baar Baar Dekho, a much bigger movie in every way, made 30 crores in its first week. It’s a film backed by two of the biggest production houses – Excel and Dharma. It’s clear who was right.
Cinema as an art form is deep into the commercial pit today. Every cinema out there wants to capitalize on its films. And it is not necessarily a bad thing.
CONTENT FIRST, THEN COMMERCE
What happened with Shoojit is exactly what is wrong with Bollywood’s idea of commercialization. If a producer believes in the content, there should be no second thoughts for the nod. You can later think of how to reduce the production costs to make it viable. But asking “How would it make money?” to the pitcher is downright immature.
Our studios aren’t entirely evil as it might come off though. They do back good directors and good films. But most of them have been very safe bets. Pink can’t do with songs, cut down the harsh content or choose an easy narrative. The film was designed to attract the audience’s attention just to the message that it wants to portray. To put it in simple words, it isn’t a film that a normal Bollywood movie-goer would prefer. At least that’s what some producers think.
These are the films produced by big banners. But, except for Anurag Kashyap’s banner Phantom Films, no one consistently dares to take risks.
Anushka Sharma had also put forward the same point. She had to step up and co-produce NH 10 for the sole reason that the film wasn’t getting picked up by anyone. Which again, proved the point that there will be a profit if the material is stellar. (It was Phantom that finally agreed to co-produce)
GET OVER THE WEEKEND FIGURES
The excessive amount of promotion done for big films are solely to make the biggest impression in the opening weekend. There is that pressure from the industry to come up with those magic figures in the first three days. There is no one talking of sustaining the momentum.
That’s not to say the initial collection doesn’t impact the fate of the film. It does, to some extent. But if you are investing about 10-15 crore already, how much are you actually gaining from it?
Case in point : Happy New Year
The SRK film had a whopping 40 crores spent for marketing and promotion. That gave them a weekend gross of 108 crores. So money well spent? Not at all!
In the same year, Aamir came with PK. The team went incredibly low on promotions (even the trailer wasn’t released) with around 10 crores alloted for marketing. What numbers are we talking about now? Look for yourself-
Aamir is certainly one of the smartest promoters along with being a great actor. He believed in his film and relied on the weekdays for the cash to keep coming. It then ended up collecting an all time high of 330 crores, while HNY was left far behind at around 200 crore. So basically, you spend 3 times more than you should, just to get a slight edge at the initial stage? How about coming up with a better film and use that money for a Pink?
THE “COMMERCIAL ELEMENT”
Imagine a certain person is narrating you (a producer) one of the most gripping stories you have ever heard. You know it is good. You know it needs to be made. So what is the first question you will ask him after hearing out?
“Let’s insert a dance sequence here.”
That is what Anushka got as an answer when she was doing the rounds of finding a co-producer for NH10. Their idea of the film was that the leads Meera and Arjun should dance into the lush fields before they witness honour killing at a dhaba and a head being stabbed in front of them.
There has been so many instances where the product placement has been horribly prominent, sometimes more than the actors on screen. When a big film like Krissh 3 does it, it looks even more terrible.
Subtle ones are always welcomed.But when there is too much of it, it ruins the film and the image of company in our heads.
Granted, one still needs some kind of marketing for the world to know such film exists. But it still doesn’t mean that the VIPs of the cast and crew would give back-to-back interviews answering the same standard questions. Recently, Amitabh had written a letter on feminism for his granddaughter and shared it on social media. Many accused him of doing these “tricks” to promote Pink. But isn’t that great? Having a film promoted and sending a message too?
Likewise, Yash Raj Films also come up with creative promotional strategies for even the smallest of their films. Then there is the master of all, Aamir Khan. Whether the nude poster in PK was intended for controversy or not, it certainly worked very well in publicizing the film to a large extent.
It doesn’t always have to be the same. Pink didn’t even feature in Kapil Sharma’s show.
SHOW US THE CONFIDENCE
The root cause for all of the above is the producer’s lack of trust in the script, the director or even the actor. Many a times, there is over-dependence on one more than the other two. You should judge the script, know the audience and hand it over to the right people.
Not keeping early press screenings also doesn’t help. It shows that you are afraid of getting bad reviews (and hence hamper the opening). Pink, with a brave film and a brave producer, got the buzz started even before the release, thanks to its press screenings.
There are easier ways to earn money than being a film producer. Treat movies as an art form first and then an exploding market.
There is no fool-proof formula other than this trust. It has been proved time and again.
Pink should be a case study for every producer out there.
P.S : All figures are from koimoi.com. Haven’t made it up