There is this thing that is very ‘in’ in Bollywood today. To be more precise, this ‘in’ thing is a ban. Bans are being implemented with greatest gusto on Bollywood sets. The latest incident comes from the sets of director Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Priyanka Chopra was the heroine of his film and she was shooting on the set. Just then, Priyanka’s mother dropped in on the set to see her daughter. She was then told by staff to sit in the vanity van of the actress, instead of entering the film set.
This seems to be a small incident, but it does makes a point about the business end of making films. The current cardinal rule on most Bollywood sets today is: ‘Leave your smartphone outside the set’. All these set regulations have been imposed for the prime reason of ensuring that the enigmatic wrapping of the film remains a mystery till the producer/director is ready to unwrap it for the world.
Terms like ‘First look’ and ‘Official trailer’ have assumed a vast significance in Bollywood lexicon. Bollywood producers seem to be unanimous that no cast member of a film unofficially leaks out any interesting information about the film, till there is an official stamp on it. All this is being done to ensure that carefully airing the under-production film’s tidbits at opportune dates will bring a resultant cascading effect in terms of curiousity and resultant moolah at the box office.
The Bollywood producers are not off the mark. They need to recover their investment in the film project. But the question is: will such small acts of caution help in bridging the gap between what counts as ‘Hit’ and ‘Flop’ in Bollywood?
Consider the box office data of Bollywood films released in 2014. Out of 201 films that were released, 150 have been categorised as ‘Disaster’. This means out of all Bollywood films released last year, about 74% films were tagged as ‘Disaster’. There were 24 ‘Flop’ films, 5 Hits, 4 Superhits and 1 Blockbuster, which was PK.
That invisible drawing board that lies on the Bollywood producer’s table really has to come up with something refreshingly robust in 2015 in order to catch the eye of the discerning moviegoer.
It seems fine to keep the ‘look’ of a film secret till the D-Day. But it would be much better that the look of a film also carries with it proper content that is consumed happily by the ticket-buying public. The time has come to recalibrate the Bollywood ‘Hit’ compass. Maybe, a snappy Android smartphone app could do the trick here.