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Hindi Cinema (In the recent years) - One Step Ahead and Two Steps Back. (Articles on Cinema by Bobby Sing)

16 Aug, 2013 | Articles on Cinema

The success rate of Hindi Cinema has always been an unpredictable enigma for both the viewers as well as the makers since the mid of the last century and ‘Hero Worship’ has always been there as a significant part of our ‘Box Office Success System” unarguably.
However there was a major shift witnessed in the interest and response patterns of Indian audience in the year 2012, which surely brought in a pleasant and much required change in the system awaited from many years. It all started as a few unexpected (not so big), off beat films with no superstar to woo the audience, became the major hits at the box office and were appreciated all over unanimously both by the viewers and the critics together. The two key ones beginning the welcome trend were KAHAANI & PAAN SINGH TOMAR which had no major star-cast to attract the viewers, no songs to make them dance and no familiar themes to enjoy for the Indian audience. Where KAHAANI had just one well known name of Vidya Balan playing a pregnant woman, without any sex appeal support as seen in her previous THE DIRTY PICTURE, the other had Irrfan in the lead role of a real life national athlete turned into a rebel. Besides the hidden unknown fact about PAAN SINGH TOMAR was that this Tigmanshu Dhulia directed ambitious project was there lying in the cans for more than one and a half years without any interested buyers or takers (since they obviously assumed that the subject cannot run at the box office with such an unusual cast).
Post these two thoughtful attempts well accepted by the audience, there came another shocking surprise with VICKY DONOR (again without any known name in the project) as it was a film made on a very novel but conservative kind of subject (as per Indian social standards) of a professional sperm donor and his love life. The film literally broke many fixed notions about the so called sexually repressed Indian society as it got an unexpectedly huge appreciation from almost every corner of the nation and was widely loved by especially the youth, announcing their new age state of mind dealing with love, sex and life quite clearly.  
The stage was positively set by these 3 brave and well made movies in Hindi Cinema and then the nation saw a series of many first timer projects in the coming months which again enjoyed a great successful run at the box office proving the changing thought process of the viewers all over the country.
In the subsequent months, there came BARFI, a daringly different concept, wherein neither the lead hero nor the leading lady had much to speak in the entire film mostly dependent upon its well composed background score. OH MY GOD, which simply raised many valid questions on the worshipping rituals, religiously followed by majority of Indians in more or less a foolish manner, which was surely one of the most risky projects in these burning times. ENGLISH VINGLISH, drew our attention towards the respect and importance deserved by a hard working housewife, who very silently gives her precious yet invisible support to the whole family unconditionally. EEGA (MAKKHI), a technically advanced and highly commendable, never before kind of an Indian movie completely based on an animated character of a small ‘Bee’ who is eager to take the revenge for his murder in the previous birth. ISHAQZAADE, a decently conceived love story set in UP, again with a fresh star cast, few good songs and appreciable performances. FERRARI KI SAVAARI, reminding us of Vittorio De Sica’s BICYCLE THIEVES (1948) redefining the father-son relationship on the Indian screen beautifully. TALAASH, revisiting the rarely attempted genre of a murder mystery or suspense drama in a well guarded secretive manner. And then there was the brilliant two part series of GANGS OF WASSEYPUR, which once again proved the fact that viewers are certainly ready to embrace the change in this second decade of the new millennium, but one only has to serve them with an exceptional film based on a fresh subject or execution giving them that much needed novelty as desired.
After going through all these distinctive, well conceived films mentioned above, exploring some new avenues in Hindi Cinema representing the ‘Step Ahead’, let’s take a look at the actual, major money churners at the box office in 2012 which will easily give you the reason why the title of the article says “One Step Ahead and Two Steps Back”.
And these major Hits of the year are Sajid Khan/Akshay Kumar’s HOUSEFULL 2, Karan Malhotra/Hrthik Roshan’s AGNEEPATH, Prabhudeva/Akshay Kumar’s ROWDY RATHORE, Rohit Shetty/Ajay/Abhishek’s BOL BACHCHAN, Homi Adjania/Saif Ali Khan’s COCKTAIL, Kabir Khan/Salman’s EK THA TIGER, Karan Johar’s STUDENT OF THE YEAR, Yash Chopra/Shahrukh Khan’s JAB TAK HAI JAAN, Ashwani Dhir/Ajay Devgan’s SON OF SARDAR and Arbaaz Khan/Salman Khan’s DABANGG 2.
Now though these all happen to be the biggest hits of 2012 undoubtedly, yet the other bitter truth about them remains that none of the above had anything new, important or path breaking to offer in its storyline, content or execution at all. In precise words, all the above mentioned movies either worked due to their huge star-power, solid backing of a big production house, well promoted item songs, cheap mocking comedy or open skin show and nothing else. So as mentioned before it was clearly like taking one step ahead and two steps back in terms of quality of films in Hindi Cinema in the year 2012.
In fact the trend is exactly similar to the kind of “Dualistic Society” we have been living in from ages wherein both a bullock cart and an expensive elegant car is proudly running on the same road, without any visible conflict. So where a considerable section of viewers is eager enough to accept all the new, path breaking experimental films at one hand, the box office still continues to be on the side of the same old clichéd, routine stuff on the other, as always.
Interestingly an exactly similar pattern is continuing in the present 2013 too with an appreciable diverse range of subjects seen in its first half, followed by some pretty weak films hitting the screen with the beginning of the long Indian festive season in August (till December), which always remains guarded and booked by all the big names of the industry in advance.
The year opened with TABLE NO. 21, an unusual suspense drama based on ragging of innocent students and then there was SPECIAL 26, based on real life con events of the mid 80s, presently superbly. ABCD, a whole film majorly based on dance performances by all new actors coming from a reality dance show worked well and then we had KAI PO CHE, an emotional story of 3 true friends based on Chetan Bhagat’s famous novel targeting the youth. JOLLY LLB, an unusual court room drama full of tense and comic moments won decent appreciation all over and CHASHME BUDDOOR, an official remake with a fresh outlook and not so big starcast also won hearts. RANJHANAA, an innocent caste based love story featuring Dhanush, a fine actor from the south, without having any standard looks of a Bollywood hero, ran as the hidden dark horse and GO GOA GONE came as one of the first movies in India made on the Zombie theme. AASHIQUI 2, a love story with again two new faces, many good songs and an unconventional climax did fine with the power of music and BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG, brought in some fresh air as a well directed and brilliantly enacted bio-pic made on our national hero, Milkha Singh. D-DAY superbly explored the lesser attempted genre of sharply edited spy thrillers after a long gap and then finally we had SHIP OF THESEUS (Hinglish), which can easily be rated as one of best Indian movies made in the recent decades without any doubts.
But despite all these worth praising projects released in the current year, if anyone asks about the top grosser(s) of the year 2013 till August then they again are movies offering nothing new or fresh in the name of content, script or storyline, quite sadly. And these two big hits are Ayan Mukherjee/Ranbir Kapoor’s YEH JAWAANI HAI DEEWANI and Rohit Shetty/Shahrukh Khan’s CHENNAI EXPRESS as expected which solely ran on their Star Power alone without any doubts.
Incidentally this also reminds me of a recent personal discussion, in which I was loudly appreciating the unexpected success of many path breaking films in Hindi Cinema beginning from 2012 (with a friend of mine from a foreign origin). Interrupting my words in between all of a sudden, he simply asked a question that “Which 3 films have earned the most in the last few years in Hindi Cinema”. And listening his query, I was really looking around since (apart from 3 IDIOTS which came way back in 2009) none of these (recent) major hit movies was a worth praising, commendable one having any unique presentable feature at all with names like DABANGG 2, ROWDY RATHORE, BOL BACHCHAN, EK THA TIGER, JAB TAK HAI JAAN, SON OF SARDAR, YEH JAWAANI HAI DEEWANI and CHENNAI EXPRESS coming to the mind at once.
So the hard truth remains that where we do appreciate, some innovations tried in our Hindi Cinema at regular intervals quite evidently. Our major box office successes (now popularly referred to as the 100 crore club) still remain the same good old repetitive, masala movies only, well supported by all ‘The Big Stars’ of the industry unarguably (even in this new millennium.) And therefore its exactly like taking “One Step Ahead and Two Steps Back” in terms of quality of films in Hindi Cinema. Nevertheless the hope is not all lost yet and maybe we will see a turn of tables soon in the coming years.
Bobby Sing
All Rights Reserved - Aug 2013

Tags : Hindi Cinema In the recent years, One Step Ahead and Two Steps Back, Articles on Cinema by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Hindi Cinema Hit Trend in 2012 and 2013, 100 Crore Club of Bollywood, Quality of Films in Bollywood.
16 Aug 2013 / Comments ( 4 )
Amit Joshi

Why lustful things inspire human more than peaceful things. Everybody know that Juice is healthy for your body you still go for Coke. drinking juice of 30/- seems expensive than drinking a bottle of coke of same or more amount. Just because no Fresh Juice ad comes on screen, No SRK promotes Fresh Juice Now same happens with cinema also....people know from the heart that \'SHIP OF THESUS\' is a great movie but they will not go for that........why because it is not having any big stars.........it may leave them with unfulfilled feeling on weekend that they saw \'Ship of Thesus whereas people on the same theater were watching SRK movie...SRK the great human being because he comes on TV, Delhi times etc he does things which we AAM people can\'t do. Basically we forgot to go inside.

One more thing which I want you to raise as a topic:
The enigma of viewing and watching silently....I don\'t know it is a subject for you or not but please try...

You know what happened when I see Vymokesh Bakshi now a days again, I have lost the memory of some episode..... so I try to solve the mystery in between the episode.... I screams "he is the culprit"most of the time I get success...but I realized that I lost the charm of watching things the way I used to......now I see the Vyomkesh had so many technical fault.....from sound to location to emotion..... because I have seen so much of technically advanced cinema....forgive me Bobby I may be wrong I saw you give live update from cinema hall.....I don\'t know how much notions are running in your heart when you try to evaluate each and every scene but I think it disturbs.....In your case it may be different because you are a pure soul (as I consider always in my heart)

Earlier we used to watch movies and comes back with one word "yaar acchi lagi movie or nahi lagi" now I am watching each and everyone has access of world of cinema & internet which is good and should be (in the positive way) so they gives their comments with long details. But in that process we have lost the charm of watching also. In movie TALAASH everyone was trying to solve the mystery instead of watching it.. It was looking like the no. 1 race of the viewer :). and the greatest example is 3 Idiots where people enjoyed it very much in theater but after few days they started raising questions ....why Aamir is shown rich (a rich can do anything, he should be shown poor, tab maza aata) why he got No.1 rank in spite of not studying in movie, did he wrote the same meaning of machine he told us in movie and still got first class or who funded him to get 400 patents in the end balah balah balah.

I may be completely wrong but I told you what I think while watching any cinema.

Bobby Sing

Dear Amit,

Completely commercial films with big stars have always been more successful in getting bigger crowds in the theater from ages. But in the 80s & 90s we also saw many of them flopping despite the presence of very big stars and directors.

However at present the business model is such that every STAR led film earns a safe amount definitely even if its not that good or worth watching at all in cinematic terms.

Moreover the fan following has become such that they very daringly try to promote even a bad film of their favourite star so that it may earn more than its rival and breaks more records. Such kind of blind following was never seen before as then if the film was bad then it was rightly called as bad and no fan tried to promote it otherwise in a fake manner.

Also now people have started taking cinema more lightly in India than before which is another reason for the current state of poor viewing choice as mentioned my yourself.

Secondly regarding the topic “The enigma of viewing and watching silently”....this is surely a subject which I talked about in the conclusion of TAARE ZAMEEN PAR’s review in 2007. But why it is not been written after that has some reasons which are given below which also deals with your point of Live Tweets.

After every 10-20 years a developing country goes through a series of changes which includes Cinema too. The experience of watching cinema is not the same as it was in the 80s or early 90s. For example now you are being served food right at your seats in between the film, which is though pretty strange & objectionable too, but its now considered as a important feature of a multiplex viewing bought at the cost of a high price ticket all over the country.

In other words, now they make you feel at ease by bringing everything to your seat as a special service. And when you are being served the food in between the film itself right on your seat, then who can stop you to eat it loudly too making all those munching sounds without caring about the other fellow viewers, quite shamelessly.

So its clearly a part of the business now. And same can be said about the LIVE TWEETS. It’s the new way of passing the info to the interested friends like LIVE CRICKET SCORE
 and if you want to be in the game then you have to follow the new rules or will be thrown out of the business soon.

For instance now you cannot make websites in 800x600 resolution. And if you insist making it in that form because they will look good even at the oldest monitors then you are not following the changing trends and would start losing the new clients soon.

The live tweets are both demanded and eagerly looked upon by many friends in order to make their weekend outing decisions before the detailed review. Therefore I have to deliver the goods even when the act is both painful as well as interruptive for my own personal viewing frankly. But eventually I have learned the art of doing it without disturbing myself or my fellow viewers ever through some careful selection of seats and mobile settings.

Yet here, I would like to add a suggestion on a personal note, that when there is something which you don’t really like or appreciate from heart, but still have to adapt it..........to be with the changing world & new times then just take it as a game……..and play it as per the new rules like a fine player in a joyful mood.

But I do feel the need of satisfying my own passion at times whenever there is a film like SHIP OF THESEUS which truly deserves a watch without any mobile phones or eatables. 
So for films like SOT, the first viewing is just for all my readers and tweet followers, taking the pain of writing 1-2 lines every 10-15 minutes……..and the second viewing is simply for myself and my passion by switching the phone off.

At present its all part of the changing game in the new millenium…………..and we do need to play it as per the new rule to remain in the team.

Now coming to your third point, its very simple to explain it.

A sudden attack of knowledge and access to just anything by only a click gives us a false sense of "Knowing All" in a very wrong manner. And this doesnt work in positive terms with most of the people. 
Only a few decades before one had to learn everything by going to a teacher and by following a tough process of learning by spending days, weeks, months and even years.

But now its all available at a click which is both good and dangerous at the same time.
And the most widely found result of this "readily available knowledge at a click" remains.......that now we have become capable of commenting on just anything created by anyone, finding its faults and mistakes so easily (since we believe to be knowing more than the creator itself)

This is infact the negative result of such sudden & easy availability of information at our small gadgets, which will take it owns time to calm down and go back to the normal way of learning & appreciating again.

I hope you would understand the concern here.


Amit Joshi

Thanks for the detailed review..........I always appreciate that you spend your time and care for your readers.

I specially liked the "play it as per the new rules like a fine player in a joyful mood". Yes it will help me personally.

May be it can be a case with Aamir khan also who one hand delivers Taare Zameen Par and show like Satyamev Jayate on the other hand he makes Delly Belly & promote it loudly, On one hand he know the power of writers on the other hand he doesn\'t want to share his (producers) profit with them.

Bobby Sing

Dear Amit,
Its always my pleasure to discuss relevant questions in details and yes you are quite right in your comment on Aamir Khan to a large extent. But I also wonder why all those directors dont speak out loudly against the exploitaion they have faced.


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