Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mass vs. Class

By Anant Mathur (October 28, 2012)

Many times films are released and put into a mass or class category by reviewers, producers, distributors and/or trade analysts. So, what is the difference between a class and mass film and why does it matter?

Well, for starters a mass film is basically a film that appeals to everyone from the lower classes, to children, to women. Lower classes, children and women tend to be more impressionable than the upper more educated class of people. Therefore, mass films tend to be less intellectual and more comedic in their senses and approach. Take for example films like Dabangg, Housefull and Sholay, these are clearly - leave your brain at home and come be entertained for two hours - type mass entertainers. Usually, mass films have catchy dialogue and memorable songs which the audience can recite repeatedly.

A class film on the other hand tends to deal with a specific type of topic for a relatively smaller audience, sometimes even a niche audience, as compared to a mass film. At times the subject of these films may only appeal to women or to the highly educated and more influential upper class. Mass films may also be made by a smaller production house than a class film which usually has a mega budget and reaches a much larger audience.

So, why does it matter if a film is a class film or a mass film? Well, it may not matter to the audience but it does make a huge difference to the distributor and producer. You see, when a class film is released it's on a much bigger scale than a class film. 

Because the audience is many folds larger the distributor needs to know exactly how many screens to release the film on in order to recover their cost as quickly as possible. It makes a huge difference to the distributor if he's releasing the film on 200 screens or 2500 screens. If a distributor is releasing a film on 2500 screens his advertising has to be much more aggressive than for a film releasing on 200 screens, this also increases his advertising budget. These costs are the primary reason why films are divided into these segments.

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Yash Chopra - Jab Tak Thi Jaan...

By Anant Mathur (October 22, 2012)  

It is unfortunate for film fans that Yash Chopra, the king of romance, will not be around to witness the spectacular release of his final directorial venture Jab Tak Hai Jaan. Sadly, Mr. Chopra passed away yesterday, due to dengue, just weeks before the release of his final film.

It was less than a month ago that he celebrated his 80th birthday and announced his retirement from film direction. In his 53 year career, Yash Chopra has given us many memorable films most of which were huge box office successes. He directed 22 films in all including box office smashers like Dhool Ka Phool, Waqt, Deewaar, Veer-Zaara, Silsila, Dil To Pagal Hai, Darr, Kabhi Kabhie, Chandni and Kaala Patthar.

Shortly after finding success as a director, Yash Chopra started his own production house Yash Raj Films (YRF), and began producing some of the most loved Bollywood films. Most of us grew up watching YRF films and only have to look in our own lives to see their influence. 

By the early 1990s, there were many Indians residing in cities outside of India, known as NRIs, the children of these Indians had been growing up without any cultural influence or family values. It wasn't until the mid 1990s when films like Hum Aapke Hain Kaun and Yash Chopra's Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge woke this generation of Indians to embrace their culture and values through their stories. Shortly after Dil To Pagal Hai was released it brought a Bollywood dance craze to cities where NRIs resided - Shiamak Davar's name was synonymous with every NRI household - so much so that soon his Shiamak Davar Institute of Performing Arts (SDIPA) dance schools started to open in these cities across the world. 

Today, you can't go into a city where NRIs reside without noticing how involved these indians are in their community, culture and activities related to Bollywood, such was the influence of this man we knew as Yash Chopra.

It was due largely to his faith that the next generation of Indian directors, writers and actors got their big breaks starting with his son Aditya Chopra and the would-be blockbuster Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. He continued to mentor young talent like Shahrukh Khan, Kajol, Karan Johar, Shiamak Davar, Nikhil Advani, Sanjay Gadhvi, Shaad Ali, Siddharth Anand, Kunal Kohli, Kabir Khan, Maneesh Sharma and Farah Khan, who in turn gave a chance to many of the current crop of directors and producers in Bollywood, but it was "Yash Uncle" who started them along the path of their success. I'm positive the current generation will agree with me when I say that he was a man who not only gave them a chance but taught them how to survive in the big bad world that is Bollywood.

Yash Chopra was the last surviving filmmaker of his generation, with his passing we also lose ties to the forefathers who began what is know worldwide as Bollywood. His loss will forever be felt by those who make films and those who love to watch them...

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

"I Can Sue..."

By Anant Mathur (October 13, 2012)  

Since I don't have too much time to write this week, I'm going to keep this post short.

"I Can Sue..." is a line of dialogue spoken by the late great actress Jean Hagen in arguably the best movie musical to come out of Hollywood... Singin' In The Rain

Of course, in the film she says the line because she is unhappy with some publicity, but imagine if we could sue a movie producer or studio for making a bad film. People sue for all sorts of ridiculous reasons these days from spilling a hot cup of coffee on themselves, to suing a casino for making them gamble, to suing a dry cleaner for $67 million because he lost a pair of pants.

So the next time we watch a movie that wasted our time we should be able to sue a producer or studio to at least get our money back? Doesn't that make sense, why throw good money after bad when no one is willing to make good films in Bollywood. I mean watching films is not cheap, especially for a common man living in India. A family may have to spend more than Rs. 1,000 in order to watch a film and that doesn't include the price of pop corn or soft drinks. If a producer really believed in how good his film is, he would volunteer to give their money back if patrons don't enjoy the movie. But that would be in a perfect world.

It may sound like a good idea but the reason no one will ever succeed in suing for a bad film is because it's a service. It's very easy to sue for a faulty product but very difficult to sue for a faulty service. Imagine if we could though...

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Politically Incorrect!

By Anant Mathur (October 04, 2012)

You know all the political correctness that's been going on for the last few decades is really starting to ruin the enjoyment of life. I have nothing against the ideologies and beliefs of others, I say "live and let live", but at some point all this political correctness has to stop. You can't say anything these day (even as a joke) without fear of being sued, arrested or punched out or laughed at and ridiculed (as done so to celebrities and athletes in social media). Whatever happened to Freedom of Speech?

We can't go around changing everything just so every last person on the planet agrees with it - that's how dictatorships start. Everyone needs to stop being a clone of each other and be their own person and doing that involves a lot of political incorrectness. How come "vertically challenged" is acceptable and calling some one "short" is not, you're still being labelled - "vertically challenged" sounds much worst to me than "short"? You can call someone a "Heavy set man or woman" but you can't call them fat? "Heavy set" sound humongous - how can that be acceptable and a 3 letter word is not. Labels have always been around and always will be, you can either take them seriously or be mentally strong and know who you're as a person and not worry about what others think. What's the point of having a dictionary if we can no longer say half the words that are in it?

There's a film from 1963 called Shock Corridor in which they say the "N" word countless number of times. Now today, no one would dare say that word out loud (unless it was an African American gang member) but in many old films the word exists, does this mean we need to delete scenes from all the old movies so that no one is offended. How can we do that, it's a part of history, deleting unfortunate situations from history is not the solution. Instead it would give a false sense of being. What will we tell future generations when we speak about our history, are we going to tell them what happened but keep all the details out? Are we not going to tell them about how the Jewish people were tormented by the Nazi and sent to concentration camps with a number on their arms, do we keep those details out, so they never know about the camps or numbers?

About a year and a half ago, the 1985 Dire Straits hit Money For Nothing was banned from Canadian Radio. The decision was reached after one listener complained to St. John's radio station CHOZ-FM due to the song's use of the word "faggot," finding it to be discriminatory to gays. Seriously, one guy had a problem with it and they banned it for the whole country, I'm so glad we live a democratic society. Of course, the decision was reversed several months later after being reviewed by the Canadian Broadcast Standards, but the point is why was some idiot able to get it banned in the first place. What's next they're going to ask Sir Paul McCartney to change the lyrics of Hey Jude to Hey Dude?

If gay people want rights, including, the right to get married there's nothing wrong with that, but instead of changing Christianity start your own religion and get the politicians to support it. When Sikhism was established in India they had their own religious beliefs and their own Sikh Gurus, their own wedding rituals, they didn't change the Hindu religion or Gurus and Gods to be a part of their beliefs. The Sikhs who do believe in the Hindu religion don't argue that Rama, Krishna or Shiva, etc. are Sikhs, so why are African Americans so adamant on changing Jesus into a black person - start your own religion and have a black god - oh wait they already have that in Africa, duh! African Americans are loosing their culture and religion by conforming to the religion and beliefs of the white man. They have to stop trying to be white and accept their own traditions, values, literature & gods - it all exists.

And of course, political correctness has made its way into the entertainment medium too - in the upcoming Superman film "MAN OF STEEL" the Daily Planet's editor, Perry White, who has been a white male since the comics first started is going to be played by an African American actor - "Hello!", even his name is White? I have no issues with an African American being the editor of the Daily Planet but why does he have to be called Perry White why can't they create a new character. Same thing happened in the Cinderella storyline on the Once Upon a time TV series - the fairy godmother is suddenly black. Why can't they have African American stories for African Americans - why do they have to change the stories that have been a part of history. The upcoming TV show Elementary is about Sherlock Holmes except there's a twist, the part of his assistant (Dr. Watson) is being played by a woman and not just a woman but an actress of Chinese descent - I'd love to hear their explanation for why she's named Dr. Watson if she's of Chinese descent - I'm certain Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is spinning in his grave. Would it not have made more sense to kill off Watson and make her Holmes' new assistant, especially since the story now takes place in New York City. Here's a thought... Dr. Watson is murdered and Holmes ends up in New York while trying to figure out who killed him. Here's hoping this show is a big flop and gets cancelled after 3 episodes and we never have to hear of it again.

In the new Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man, Marvel decided to change with the times and have an African American as Spider-Man, but instead of making Peter Parker a black person, they killed him off and came up with a new African American character (Miles Morales) who is now Spider-Man. That's how it should be. You shouldn't be able to mess with character origins, Bruce Wayne cannot be African American, but there could be an African American Batman as long as his alter ego is someone else and not Bruce Wayne. You don't hear the French, the Indians or the Russians saying that Bruce Wayne is French, Hindu or Russian. Let him be white and enjoy the story. Thankfully when they do Indianise a white character he does become an Indian character, like in the short lived Spider-Man: India comic, Peter Parker became a dhoti wearing villager named Pavitr Prabhakar.

Like it or not the white man had the foresight to envision the infrastructure we have in most of the free world today. The industrial revolution, the internet superhighway, cars, aircrafts, television, radio, submarines, ships, coca cola, Christmas, Valentine's Day, etc. - were all dreamed up by white men and along the way they've been able to keep their culture and religion going strong whether it's through books, television, singers, dancers, comedians, radio or comic books, etc.

Indians, African Americans, Chinese, etc., we are brilliant yes, but we haven't done anything that has inspired others to copy us. Instead of mimicking them we should learn from them and apply the same to our own culture before it's too contaminated by the west and lost forever. You don't see the white man migrating to India or China and telling them to change their characters in books or films (I don't think at any time Devdas has been a white male) or Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. have been played by white actors.

Even when a white actor has played an African American character they've done so with black make-up on their face, they haven't changed the character to a white person. So, why then when we as minorities reach North America or Europe do we expect the white man to change his culture and beliefs to reflect our ethnicity. We are privileged that we have the opportunity to better ourselves and provide for future generation in the west, but let us not get ridiculous. The only way to stay Indian, African American, or Chinese is to practice our beliefs and traditions copying the west or changing characters in their stories to reflect our minorities isn't going to help any culture.

I guess it will be difficult to change the minds of billions of people to not be so consumed by the west or to be politically incorrect especially with politicians on the political correctness band wagon (because it helps them win elections when they support the African American, Indian, Hispanic, Chinese or the gay communities), but hopefully here's a start.

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

DISCLAIMER: The above post is meant for entertainment purposes only; readers shouldn't take it seriously or interpret it as advice.