Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ten Worst Bollywood Films

By Anant Mathur (November 30, 2010)
DRONA (2008)
Starring: Abhishek Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra, Kay Kay Menon
Director: Goldie Behl
Producer: Shrishti Behl
Music: Dhruv Ghanekar
Analysis: What can I say about this supreme disaster of a film. Its too childish an attempt to even be considered as a contender for a professional piece of work. With the kind of budget this film had, one would think the producer could have hired an experienced writer. I can't even say that it was a good idea because even the idea is not altogether there, it's more like several thoughts trying to come together as one idea, and it doesn't work at all.

LOVE STORY 2050 (2008)
Starring: Herman Baweja, Priyanka Chopra, Boman Irani, Archana Puran Singh, Dalip Tahil, Kurush Deboo
Director: Harry Baweja
Producer: Pammi Baweja
Music: Anu Malik
Analysis: Having top class special effects is of no use when the film's story lacks power. Probably one of the first time travel movies to come out of Bollywood, Harry Baweja had a lot of material to use as reference, sadly instead of using this material to inspire, he simply tries to copy and this comes across as a cheap imitation of the original works.

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Ritesh Deshmukh, Lara Dutta, Deepika Padukone, Jiah Khan, Arjun Rampal
Director: Sajid Khan
Producer: Sajid Nadiadwala
Music: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy
Analysis: You know it's a bad comedy when you don't laugh even once through out the film. Forget laughing in this film you never break into a chuckle.

NEAL 'N' NIKKI (2005)
Starring: Uday Chopra, Tanisha, Abhishek Bachchan
Director: Arjun Sablok
Producer: Aditya Chopra, Yash Chopra
Music: Salim-Suleiman
Analysis: This film has nothing to offer other than some T & A. Easily the worst film from the Yash Raj Films banner it was the first example of a new direction YRF has taken - make films on the sole basis of YRFs reputation regardless of how dumb the stories are.
Starring: Sunny Deol, Armaan Kohli, Manisha Koirala, Akshay Kumar, Suniel Shetty, Aftab Shivdasani, Arshad Warsi, Rambha, Sonu Nigam
Director/Producer: Rajkumar Kohli
Music: Anand Raj Anand, Anand-Milind, Sandeep Chowta
Analysis: After seeing the original, with superstars like Sunil Dutt, Sanjeev Kumar, Shatrughan Sinha, Vinod Mehra, Rekha, Neetu Singh and Jeetendra, I had great expectations from this remake. Especially, since it was being made by the original director, sadly though, the film is no patch for it predecessor. The greatest strength of the original was it's suspense in not knowing who the monster is, but when the monster is replaced by a revenge seeking snake with magical powers, well, you can probably imagine how bad this film is. The original was a super hit and became one of the highest grossing films of 1979. The remake was a disaster and destroyed the careers of many of its stars.

Starring: Feroz Khan, Fardeen Khan, Celina Jaitley, Pinky Harwani, Kashmira Shah, Archana Puran Singh, Yash Tonk
Director: Feroz Khan
Producer: Feroz Khan
Music: Anand Raaj Anand, Channi Singh, Sukhwinder Singh
Analysis: Being a huge fan of Feroz Khan's Qurbani, I spent $35 on purchasing the DVD of this film and regret spending each penny. It's sad that this is the last film Feroz Khan ever directed, I would've loved to see his remake of Qurbani with Fardeen Khan in his father's role and Feroz Khan in Amjad Khan's role.

NAACH (2004)

Starring: Antara Mali, Abhishek Bachchan
Director: Ram Gopal Varma
Producer: Ram Gopal Varma
Music: Suleiman Merchant, Amar Mohile
Analysis: There's nothing quite as bad as an idea gone wrong. Naach may seem like a good idea on paper, but it has not translated into a good film. Even the performances leave a lot to be desired. The erotic dance sequences actually hurt the films credibility instead of helping its narrative. If only RGV could have taken the subject seriously and translated it into a film we may have enjoyed instead of exposing us to such torture.

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Aishwarya Rai, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Randhir Kapoor, Om Puri, Neha Dhupia, Rajpal Yadav
Director: Vipul Amrutlal Shah
Producer: Vipul Amrutlal Shah
Music: Pritam Chakraborty
Analysis: Action Replayy was one of the most anticipated films, since it's based on the time travel genre, sadly the film doesn't live up to an ounce of it's expectations. Vipul Shah tried hard not to show, but it's easy to see he has ripped of Back to the Future and tried to cover it up. In his attempt to cover up the fact that he has stolen the idea from a fantastic Hollywood film, he lost the soul of the film. When Marty becomes Bunty, you know where this film is headed. Instead of being about time travel as the title suggest, the film ends up being a bickering contest between Aishwarya Rai and Akshay Kumar and although it has some good jokes the screenplay just doesn't work. The story would've done better as a stand-up comedy act or duologue.

RED ROSE (1980)
Starring: Rajesh Khanna, Poonam Dhillon, Om Shivpuri, Satyen Kappoo, Roopesh Kumar
Director: Bharathi Rajaa
Producer: M.P. Jain, Ravi Kumar
Music: R D Burman
Analysis: I was 14 years old when I saw this film and to this day it gives me the creeps. Rajesh Khanna (who gave us hits like Amar Prem, Anand, Daag and Aradhana) was one of my favourite actor until I saw this film. I won't go into details as it's still unbearable to think about it, but this is the worst Rajesh Khanna film you will ever see and I request you not to see it, not even for curiosity's sake. 


Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Mohanlal, Ajay Devgn, Prashant Raj, Nisha Kothari, Sushmita Sen
Director: Ram Gopal Varma
Producer: Ram Gopal Varma
Music: Ganesh Hegde, Prasanna Shekhar
Analysis: As good as Sholay is, and will always remain the top rated Bollywood film, Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag is at the opposite end of the spectrum. It's hard to believe any film could ever be as bad as this remake. It is not the first time Sholay has been remade, others have tried and failed miserably, but this much hyped film, with Amitabh Bachchan playing the role of Gabbar Singh (known as Babban Singh due to copyright issues), is the ultimate in film misery. I'm just glad the Sippy clan was able to keep RGV from copying the names of the irreplaceable characters in Sholay and the films title. Not all is lost though, RGVs Aag will always be utilized as a measuring stick whenever we're judging bad films.

Ten Bollywood Cult Films

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Stop Making Excuses!

By Anant Mathur (November 24, 2010)

Now that it’s official, Guzaarish is a super flop at the Box Office, the so called critics who gave it 4+ stars are looking for excuses as to why the film flopped. Here are some of their top reasons:

1) It caters to a really tiny audience who like cinema that dares to be different
2) It’s a risk to have the hero of the film almost entirely on a wheel chair
3) The generous usage of English in the narrative.
4) The film failed to create any kind of a buzz prior to its release
5) The music did not catch on with listeners.
I will now try to justify these queries with some explanations: 

It caters to a really tiny audience
Is that why it was released on 750 screens? The makers of this film obviously made it for a large audience; otherwise they wouldn’t have spent 80 crores on it. No one wants to see a sad film these days.

It's a risk to have the hero of the film almost entirely on wheelchair 
People always complain that Hindi films have the same kind of characters and storylines and they’re looking for something different. Now here is Guzaarish which offers all that and now these same people who asked for it are saying “Its a risk to have the hero of the film almost entirely on a wheel chair”. I mean gimme a break, why is it a risk to have the character on a wheel chair, who said he’s suppose to be a hero? Not every person in this world has what it takes to be a hero, so why does the lead character in every film need to be heroic; it should depend on the story.

The generous usage of English in the narrative
This of course is my personal favourite. I mean how dumb are these critics, what do they think that the common man in India doesn’t know how to speak English? How arrogant is that? Even taxi drivers in India can speak better English than taxi drivers in countries like USA, Canada and UK. Didn't people go to see Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Black which was almost entirely in English and managed to make a profit for its distributors because the budget was only 18 crores.

The film failed to create any kind of a buzz
What do you expect when the highlight of your promos is a fly sitting on Hrithik Roshan’s nose or Aishwarya Rai trying to play air drums which looks more fake than Shahrukh Khan’s mustache in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi.

Why did the music not catch on with listeners
Well, it’s no good, that’s why. There’s a reason films have lyricist and music directors. When a filmmaker like Sanjay Leela Bhansali tries to justify his 25 crore salary by doing everything in a film, what can one expect. He should have left the music to the professionals.

As entertaining as the above suggestions are, there’s only one reason that Guzaarish failed – It lacks entertainment!
Here’s my advice to everyone who’s trying to justify the misfortune of Guzaarish: Stop looking for reasons why the movie failed, it’s a flop, it was going to be a flop, it was evident from the promotion. I predicted it would be a flop and it is. The reason is simple, it’s a big budget movie and those rarely make a profit in bollywood – If you need proof look at Kites, Raavan, Khatta Meetha, Anjaana Anjaani, Robot (Hindi Version), Jhootha Hi Sahi, Blue, Action Replayy, Aladin, Veer, My Name Is Khan, It's a Wonderful Afterlife, Kambakkht Ishq, Kurbaan, London Dreams and De Dana Dan - all of which had budgets of over 40 crores and all were super flops. 

These big budget films tend to be big on star casts, effects, locations, etc. but they all lack the most important element – a good entertaining story.

In order for a film to work in India, the budget can’t exceed 30-35 crore. The only exception being a brand like Golmaal 3 which already has a huge fan base – but even it can’t have a budget of more than 50-55 crores if it’s to make a profit. A sequel to Krrish can have a 50 crore budget, but I doubt it will be profitable if its budget is 100 crores.

The whole point of making films is to tell a story, so producers please find a good story and tell it. If your writers can’t write one for you, fire them. There are numerous struggling artists out there who can write and direct better than your relatives or your best friend or the secretary you’ve had for 10 years.

Obviously, there’s a business side to filmmaking also, but that business side should be handled by people who know how to do business. When looking at films as a business filmmakers need to maximize profits and lower cost, even a kid freshly out of business school knows that, but sadly the morons running the Indian film industry do not. They’re happy making a 1 crore profit on a film that cost 50 crores to make, why? Look at Hollywood as a model, when they make a film with a budget of $50 million they don’t expect to make $51 million in nett collections, they’re expecting at least $250 million in returns and they achieve it.

It is very rare that a film will generate 100 crores in nett collections in India. If a film has a budget of 50 crores and it makes 51 crores in nett collections, it’s still a loosing film because the 51 crores get split between the exhibitors and the distributor, 45% and 55%, respectively. In this case, it would be 23 crores for the exhibitors and 28 crores for the distributor. But the distributor purchased the film for 55 crores from the producer and put in an additional 10 crores for print and advertising - bringing the cost to 65 crores. Now, 65 crores – 28 crores revenue = 37 crores loss, and even if the film earns 20 crores from satellite rights for the distributor, it’s still a loosing film. You can imagine what the losses would be if the budget was 100 crores. For a film which can generate revenues of only 50 crores, budgets need to be no more than 10-15 crores, only then will everyone involved make a profit.

It’s funny, but before the release of Guzaarish, UTV (distributor) announced the cost of the film is 80 crores, once the film released and UTV realized that the film is not doing well, that 80 became a 70 (on Friday). At the time of this post, they had come down to 60 crores. 

I’m just waiting for the geniuses at UTV to reveal that Guzaarish is a profit making venture – it will be a blatant lie but you can bet they will try. If history teaches us anything it’s that no UTV film ever loses money at the box office – what a joke!!

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Why Guzaarish Had A Dull Opening

By Anant Mathur (November 23, 2010)
For the last 3 days everyone in the industry has been wondering why Guzaarish took such a bad opening last Friday. Well, there are four reasons for this: 1) Sanjay Leela Bhansali, 2) Hrithik Roshan, 3) Aishwarya Rai, 4) Aditya Roy Kapoor. All four of whose previous releases have been super flops to say the least.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali has only had 2 hits in his career (Black and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam) the rest (Khamoshi: The Musical, Devdas, Saawariya and now Guzaarish) are all flops. The problem with most top directors in India is they're trying to make films for the overseas market and film festivals. While they have every right to do that, when they do, they loose out on Indian culture and values. It's fine to make a film for the overseas market, but the overseas audience doesn't want to see what is being done overseas, they live through that everyday - they starve for Indian culture, which is lacking if these films. So, when directors like Sanjay Leela Bhansali make films, they not only loose the audience in India, but also overseas.

Hrithik Roshan's last film Kites was one of the biggest flops of the year. And that's still etched in the mind of the audience. Considering that Kites was made by his father's reputed banner, the audience expected more than a big budget disaster. That bad taste will remain with the audience for a while. His last real hit, Dhoom 2, was 4 years ago - every film released there after has fared worst than its predecessor. The big budget, Jodhaa Akbar, which also failed to set the box office on fire, was worse than Dhoom 2, and Kites fared worse than Jodhaa Akbar and now Guzaarish will enjoy a worst fate than Kites. Perhaps the audience will forgive Hrithik Roshan after he wins all the awards for his performance in Guzaarish, but that remains to be seen.
Aishwarya Rai's fate has been far worst than anyone else, her last few films - Action Replayy, Robot (Hindi version), Raavan, Jodhaa Akbar, Sarkar Raj, Provoked, The Last Legion, Umrao Jaan, and Mistress of Spices - have been some of the biggest box office disasters in recent years. In fact, in the last 5 years she has only had 2 hits to her credit Dhoom 2 and Guru. And in her 14 year career thus far, she's been part of 7 films which could be classified as hits. She may be the most beautiful woman in the world, but Aishwarya Rai has made some lousy choices when it comes to picking films.

Aditya Roy Kapoor, although a newcomer, his fate hasn't been that terrific to begin with. He may have co-starred with Aishwarya Rai, Hrithik Roshan, Ajay Devgn, Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar in his first three films (London Dreams, Action Replayy and Guzaarish), but unlucky for him, all of them are super flops.

Having four people with a history of flops to their credit in one film doesn’t work well for any film, so why would it work for Guzaarish. It shouldn’t be a surprise that Guzaarish is going to be a super flop, with an 80 crore budget to begin with, the makers had a major hand in digging its grave. If filmmakers expect to make a profit, the average film budgets need to be 15-20 crore not 70-80 crore. I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again, the Indian film market can’t sustain films with budgets over 30-35 crore, so filmmakers better learn that quickly.

Instead of tweeting and facebooking, stars need to concentrate on picking better scripts. I've heard it a thousand time - "it's hard to tell which film will work at box office and which won't" - all that is bull crap. What's the point of writing scripts if you can't tell the difference between good and bad ones. The whole idea behind writing a script is it gives you a blue print to what you're making. If after reading the script stars and filmmakers can't tell whether the story is good or not, they shouldn't be in this business.

A script will tell you if it has the potential to be a blockbuster film. The only time a fabulous script may flop at the box office is if there are no stars in it. But, if you have stars in the film, a good story will never fail at the box office.

The audience will only give their stars so many chances until they lose faith in their superstars and so-called top directors of the country. They’re realizing that the big budgets are the only thing going for the film and the story takes a back seat because of the star names attached. Actors may work hard and give the best performance of their career, but that's secondary when the film is not entertaining. If things are not set right soon, there will come a time when even the most entertaining films will flop, because the audience would’ve lost faith in their stars. I think it’s already begun, and with TV being such a big hit in the country, only time will tell how long we have before that day comes when multiplexes will be empty and everyone will be glued to their TVs at home. 

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Is New Media Killing Star Power?

By Anant Mathur (November 21, 2010)

Over the last few years I have noticed star power diminish from the silver screen. By star power I don’t mean the power an actor has to pull audiences into the cinema hall, I mean the power a movie star has when they perform. You watch a film and you relate to the character, he/she draws you into the film and entertains you for a couple of hours; you forget your troubles and enjoy their company.

The problem with today's films is they seem too unreal and fake because we know too much about the personal lives of the actors! The more we learn about them off screen the less believable they become on screen. Interactive Public Relations such as blogging and social media sites like FaceBook and Twitter are actually hurting the Film Industry rather than helping it.

More and more movie stars are getting into the new Interactive PR and multiplexes are opening all across the nation yet Box-office collections are at an all-time low. In the first 10 months of 2010 the film industry has already incurred losses of over 250 crores thanks in a large part to the debacle of Rann, My Name Is Khan, Prince, Lamhaa, Kites, Action Replayy, Khatta Meetha, We Are Family, Anjaana Anjaani, Robot, Jhootha Hi Sahi, Hisss, Knock Out, Raavan, etc. - all expensive films which failed to click at the box office.

The problem with new media is it over exposes films and the people involved in making the films. Even before a films release people know everything about its story, its production and even the characters. And what you may not know is revealed to you by film critics the day the film releases. Once we know what the story and characters are about why would anyone pay Rs. 200-250 to go see it.

A perfect example is Guzaarish, when I first watched the promos of the film, I thought “what a piece of crap” – I could tell everything was blue screened – the entire film looks like it’s been made inside a studio – even the locations and sets look fake. Aishwarya Rai looks like she’s trying to hard and overacts in most scenes. The bit with the fly on Hrithik Roshan’s nose reminds me of the final scene from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho.

Not just me, the promos failed to generated interest among the public as well and the opening days collection of Guzaarish were a mere 4.5 crores and will likely go down as the week progresses, it’s doubtful the film will generate more than 20-25 crores at the box office during its life span. Considering
Guzaarish had a budget of 80 crores, it will only add to an already woeful year.

It used to be that a movie star always seemed out of reach and what we saw of them on screen made us admire and respect them for what they were able to pull off. But when we know more about them than we do our own families, the star appeal disappears because now they’re like our family members and not someone we thought was out of reach. We can pick on every little thing they do, we know how they react to every situation, so when they do something on screen which is different than who we know them as, it seems fake and unbelievable. No matter how hard they try we just don’t buy it anymore!

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Action Replayy lacks Art and Soul

By Anant Mathur (November 16, 2010)

If you haven't seen Action Replayy please do not read on, certain parts of the story may be revealed in this post.

After watching Action Replayy one thing is certain - the director is a moron. Vipul Amrutlal Shah, if you don't know anything about science don't make a film about time travel. Travelling back in time should not be about a fashion statement. It's fine that you're trying hard to cover up the fact that you've ripped off the story from Back to the Future (and don’t want to get sued) but do a good job of it. This film is so bad I don't even know where to begin.

When I watch Back to the Future I know exactly where the money from the $19 million budget was spent. Watching Action Replayy it's hard to imagine it cost 65 crores (according to Komal Nahta) to make it. Action Replayy should cost no more than 4-5 crores to make (not including salaries of Akshay Kumar and Aishwarya Rai); there are no lavish sets, no mind-blowing special effects and certainly no story or extraordinary song sequences. So, where did the money go? Did Vipul Amrutlal Shah keep the money or did he pay Aishwariya Rai and Akshay Kumar 15 crores each as salary?

Back to the Future is a classic and one of my favourite films. In fact, I'm one of the biggest fans of
Back to the Future and the time travel genre in particular. I can still remember the first time I saw Back to the Future, I was 11 years old and I saw it at my cousin’s house. It became an instant favorite of mine, I have seen it countless number of time since then. The great thing about Back to the Future is the details that went into scripting it. And that's the most important element missing from this farce called Action Replayy.

Back to the Future, the mall - where Marty first sees the time machine in 1985 - is called Twin Pines Mall. When he travels to 1955 he ends up on a farm that stood in place of the Mall (since the mall culture hadn’t started yet). Old Man Peabody owned the farm and had two pine trees, hence the name Twin Pines Mall. When Marty leave the farm in his DeLorean he runs over one of the pine trees and destroys it. Finally, when gets back to the future the mall is now called Lone Pine Mall the name changed because on of the pine trees was destroyed. Remember, Statler Toyota, it was a Toyota dealership in Back to the Future in 1985 – they were promoting the 4x4 Marty wanted. When Marty reaches 1955 the dealership is called Statler Studebaker, since Toyota didn’t exist back then. Its details like this which makes Back to the Future special. There are thousands of little details like this in Back to the Future but none in Action Replayy.

Bunty (Aditya Roy Kapoor) uses the time machine built by his girlfriend’s Grandfather (Randhir Kapoor) to arrive in 1975. The time machine crash lands and is destroyed; yet at the end of the film it looks brand new as Bunty goes back to 2010. That's all you see or hear about the time machine. There's no explanation of how it got fixed or who fixed it. At the end of the film, when Bunty is going back, Randhir Kapoor appears with the time machine and waves goodbye to Bunty as he leaves – WTF! Why is Randhir Kapoor of 1975 helping Bunty? How does he know Bunty is telling the truth about Tanya, his granddaughter isn't even born yet? How does Bunty convince him to fix the time machine? And if Randhir Kapoor had the technology to fix the time machine in 1975, why didn’t he build it back then? None of this is explained.

When Bunty arrives in 1975, at first he isn’t sure if he made it. I’m still not sure if he made it because all the scenery looks exactly the same in 1975 as it does today which is impossible. I mean show me that where buildings stand in 2010, it’s a slum area in 1975 or something, so I know he’s in a different era. I mean, Vipul Amrutlal Shah, didn’t even show any old cars, occasionally you see a old Ambassador or a fiat or a Cadillac, but not in bunches. In any time travel film when the protagonist arrives in the past or the future, the first thing the audience notices is the difference in scenery, technology and the cars/transportation – there’s none of that in Action Replayy.

I moved from India when I was a kid and went back for the first time after 12 years. In 12 years, everything had changed drastically – it literally felt like I travelled 12 years into the future. There were parks where it used to be empty grounds; homes which were 1 story high now had 3 stories. Several shops had gotten bigger while others were no longer there. Even the small temple which used to be in my neighborhood was now exponentially larger. There were multiple new models of cars, technology was at par with the west and architecturally - the new buildings were beautiful. If all this can happened in a 12 year period from the late 1980s to the late 1990s - you can image how much would change from 1975 to 2010 especially in a big city like Mumbai

The buildings, in Action Replayy, should’ve looked different, roads weren’t that wide in the 1970s and shops were different. Showing an old movie theatre doesn’t tell me that Bunty is in the 1970s – it could just be an old theatre. Show what has changed - where is the open land where buildings now stand in 2010? There’s no reference to things like this.

There’s a scene in Action Replayy, in 1975, where we are shown a sign for a café called Bollywood Café. The term Bollywood was coined by Bevinda Collaco sometime in the late 1970s. It wasn’t in common use until the 1990s, so it is highly doubtful that there would be a café called Bollywood Café in 1975 Mumbai. How Bollywood filmmakers call themselves filmmakers is beyond me, not an ounce of research goes into their films. As bad as some Hollywood films maybe, there’s no doubt the research that goes into them. In Hollywood, even a film with a budget of 2 million is well researched, yet a 65 crore Bollywood film can’t even get simple facts right!

One more thing that doesn’t make sense is, in the future, Bunty looks to be in his mid 20s, which means he was probably born in the mid-1980s because his parents, who didn’t get along, didn’t have him for a few years after marriage, which is fine. But once he changes the past one would think that his parents, who are now in love, wouldn’t wait 10 years to have a kid, so he should be a lot older. In Back To The Future, this is not an issue, because Marty was the third born and the parents didn’t hate each other when they got married originally. But when you’re an only child, like Bunty, things could change drastically when you mess with time travel. Also, if his parents are in love with each other now, wouldn’t they have had more kids in the new future? And if Bunty is born a few years earlier who’s to say that he wouldn’t be a girl in the future? Has Vipul Shah heard of the Butterfly Effect? I doubt it.

Action Replayy would've been a better film if director Vipul Amrutlal Shah presented it as a stand-up comedy act with the lead actors hitting all the punch lines at the right time as in Comedy Circus. A film about time travel needs a solid story even if time travel is a means to an end and not the important part of the story.

In Back To The Future, all the music was songs of the 1950s - the era Marty gets sent to - and it gave the film authenticity. In our desi version all the music is from today, there’s no mention of any songs from the 1970s not even in the background. And why are they singing and dancing to hip hop/rap in the 1970s as if everyone knows it?

It is also never explained where Bunty is staying in 1975 when he first arrives or how he ends up in Kishen’s house?

When I watched Action Replayy, I could feel that I was loosing brain cells from the sheer shock of how ridiculous this film is. I kid you not, once this film ended, I actually had a headache. A monkey could have written a better script than what’s presented here.

Instead of thinking of adding an extra “y” to replay, so your film shows up first in a google search, perhaps money would've been better spent thinking of a good (I'm not even saying great) but at the least a good story. There’s an art to making a good time travel movie, Back to the Future, The Time Machine, The Philadelphia Experiment, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, Primer, Time Bandits and even Time Cop are great examples of this. Action Replayy not only lacks soul but there’s no art factor to speak of – unless you want to call today’s clothing with bell bottoms and large collars on them, art – I don’t know any common man or woman who dressed like Kishen (Akshay Kumar) and Mala (Aishwarya Rai) in the 1970s. And I'm pretty sure pimp coats were not worn in Mumbai during that era.

You know, I never thought I'd see a worst time travel movie than Love Story 2050, but Action Replayy makes Love Story 2050 look like a masterpiece.

Well, that’s all I wish to say about Action Replayy ‘cause I can feel the headache coming back and I don’t want to make this post 50,000 words long by talking about the countless other worthless things that are wrong with it – like the Yoda T-shirt and how Bunty’s afro disappears in the middle of the film and then comes back a few scenes later. One thing is for sure, I'm never replayying this film ever again. By the way, is it just me or does Action Replayy make it sound like it should be about cricket.

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tip # 25: Audience

By Anant Mathur (November 10, 2010)

In today's times when star power is king, filmmakers don't seem to be thinking about the audience. As a filmmaker you cannot make films which cater to your own taste, you need to think of what the audience wants.

Take for example a DJ in a dance club, now if he only plays the music he likes, chances are there won’t be many people left on the dance floor. He has to be able to judge the crowd and figure out their taste and play accordingly; maybe even sample a couple of songs in order to get their reaction.

Similarly, it is the job of every filmmaker to make a film to the taste of today’s audience. The audience today is a lot smarter than even 5 years ago. Due to the barrage of western TV shows and Hollywood films, the Bollywood audience has grown mentally in leaps and bounds. But it seems that the Bollywood filmmakers are too self-centered to realize this. Filmmakers like Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Vipul Amrutlal Shah, Aditya Chopra, Farhan Akhtar, Anurag Basu, Vikram Bhatt, Ram Gopal Varma, Gurinder Chadha and Karan Johar need to learn from the likes of Rajkumar Hirani, Abhinav Kashyap and Rohit Shetty who clearly know what the audience wants.

The audience is hungry for entertainment, today they have more money to spend than ever before, but no one is going to waste their money on films that are not entertaining. Give us entertainers like Dabangg, Golmaal or 3 Idiots any day over mind numbing films like Blue, Kites, Saawariya, Aladin, My Name is Khan, RGV Ki Aag, Karthik Calling Karthik or Action Replayy.

Contrary to what most filmmakers believe, it is the audience who is king at the box office, for if they don’t show, it doesn’t really matter if you made the best film or the worst film ever. How you get the audience into the theatres is the key. As Dabangg has proved recently, give the audience great music, great talent and a good story and they will keep coming back. Keep giving them bad product and every Friday the cinemas will be empty as they have been for most of this year. If the writers you rely on are unable to carve gripping stories, don’t settle for their crap – get new writers!
© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Film Festivals or Social Networking?

By Anant Mathur (November 03, 2010)

I can still remember the good old days when a film festival meant something. Today it’s just a place for celebrities to show up and people to make money because of it. But I remember a time when they were about films and a launching ground of new filmmakers.

I used to go to the Toronto International Film Festival long before I ever thought of being a filmmaker. I simply loved films which were different, not the run of the mill comedy or love story but a filmmaker’s vision unfolding on the screen. TIFF provided something different, something exciting, and something I could relate to. But that was long before it became North America’s most popular festival and at a time when it was still known as “The Festival of Festivals” not TIFF.

Over the years, film festivals have become less about filmmakers and more about profits. In the 70s, 80s and 90s, film festivals were important because distributors came to them and purchased films which were made by lesser know artists and emerging filmmakers who couldn’t get their film distributed through the normal channels. First-time writers and directors who created movies using limited budgets.

I have never understood why A-list celebrities have given so much attention to film festivals in recent years. Why does an Oliver Stone, Robert DeNiro, Angelina Jolie, Ridley Scott, Russell Crowe, Shahrukh Khan, Karan Johar, Preity Zinta or Aishwary Rai need to bring their film to a film festival. They’re big enough that any distributor will distribute their film on a grand scale, not to mention, their Advertising budgets are large enough for them not to require the added support of film festivals. Instead they’re taking away a screening from someone who’s lesser know and has no chance of getting distribution otherwise.

In the past, Film festivals have launched the careers of filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, Steven Soderbergh, Atom Egoyan, Michael Moore, Baz Luhrmann, Pedro Almodóvar, Jared Hess, PT Anderson, Lars von Trier and Jim Jarmusch. But today, these same festivals have become less about emerging talent and more about the A-Listers who attend them. From Red Carpet interviews to screenings which resemble a movie premiere, film festivals have become a networking and promotional tool (like Twitter and Facebook) for celebrities instead of being a launch pad for emerging talents.

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.