What next? Filmmakers' dilemma

Most writers who script stories like Piku or Vicky Donor, or directors who make films like Dangal or Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, do not have a worthy successor

With the kind of films that unspool every week, one can conclude that there is a dearth of not only ideas but also direction! A varied kind of films are being made. Each filmmaker trying to come out with something different. This includes all – big as well as medium-range producers. The idea seems to be taking a shot in the dark. It is all about taking chances.

Some producers are falling back on period costume dramas, which work out very costly and not every director's cup of tea. This genre was avoided for a long time mainly because of these two reasons, capability and cost. Yet, we have had period films like Bajirao Mastani and Padmaavat, Manikarnika and Kesari. There have been a few flops in this genre like Mohenjo Daro, Rangoon and Thugs Of Hindostan. The backers of such films would do it only on the basis of saleable stars, coupled with a capable director. Still it often proves risky.

Each week, a new kind of film is dropped in the market. For instance, last week we had Khandaani Shafakhana, a film discussing sexual problems for those who can make sense of the title! For one, sex and problems related to it are not generally discussed in India. Delhi and surrounding areas do have such clinics but that does not make the subject acceptable all over.

One may have thought if Vicky Donor could work, why not take it a step further? An odd subject like Vicky Donor or Piku, very personal to people, does work. But they need to be woven into a plausible story and dealt with a fair amount of humour. Recent such films are Piku, Padman, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha. This is called reaching out to personal matters of people. Humour is a must since it delivers the message without making the proceedings seem mundane.

It seems filmmaking is all about inspirational and awareness films. A small film about a person few had heard about, Paan Singh Tomar, followed by Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, opened up a new genre – the biopic. Neerja, MS Dhoni: The Untold Story and Dangal followed in quick succession. The film industry calls this a (trend). It does not last long, though.

Most writers who script stories like Piku or Vicky Donor, or directors who make films like Dangal, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and Neerja, have always had this problem: What next? They usually have nothing that matches the earlier success. No maker seemed to have a worthy successor. So, they go back to usual claptrap and come a cropper.

There were also some biopics like Manjhi: The Mountain Man or Sachin: A Billion Dreams where the makers just chose to go with the trend but turned the film into a documentary. A film like Sachin: A Billion Dreams costs crores as royalty to the character on whose life it is based, as well as to acquire real life footage.

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