Bol­ly­wood king says new age dawn­ing for In­dian film

Kuwait Times - - Lifestyle | Music & Movies -

ol­ly­wood box of­fice king Ra­jku­mar Hi­rani believes a new golden age is dawn­ing for the In­dian movie in­dus­try as film­mak­ers look out­side the box to tell more var­ied sto­ries. “Be­fore there was a be­lief that you had to have songs,” said Hi­rani, the man be­hind a string of Bol­ly­wood hits in­clud­ing the global sen­sa­tion “3 Id­iots”. “Now peo­ple are com­pletely ex­per­i­ment­ing with the sub­ject mat­ter.”

Even those di­rec­tors who con­tinue to in­clude songs are also ex­plor­ing “much darker themes”and still en­joy­ing mas­sive box of­fice suc­cess, he said. A case in point is 55-year-old Hi­rani’s lat­est of­fer­ing, “Sanju”, which the di­rec­tor has brought to this year’s 23rd Busan In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val in South Korea, the largest of its kind in Asia. “Sanju” is based on the real-life story of the rise and fall of In­dian star San­jay Dutt, who was born into Bol­ly­wood roy­alty but was jailed af­ter be­ing ac­cused of in­volve­ment in the Mum­bai ter­ror at­tacks of 1993.

The di­rec­tor ad­mits the project was a risk given the of­ten grim na­ture of the story, which in­cludes gritty scenes of drug tak­ing and its lead char­ac­ter’s de­scent into de­pres­sion. But the strong box of­fice re­turns have con­vinced him that au­di­ences want a wider range of op­tions from Hindi lan­guage films. “Sanju” has so far grossed $80 mil­lion, plac­ing it third on Bol­ly­wood’s all-time global earn­ers’ list, ac­cord­ing to The Times of In­dia news­pa­per.

“It’s very much a hu­man in­ter­est story about bat­tling your demons,” said Hi­rani. “It’s a very dif­fer­ent kind of film than I have done be­fore. “While I was mak­ing it ev­ery­body thought it was a mis­take.” But Hi­rani said he was more con­fi­dent the film might suc­ceed af­ter see­ing the re­ac­tion of Dutt, who was re­leased from jail in 2016, at a pre­view screen­ing. “He saw it three days be­fore its re­lease and I was watch­ing him,” said Hi­rani. “He was cry­ing and af­ter that he sat at home and drank for three days, so I knew it had worked.”

No magic for­mula

As a di­rec­tor and pro­ducer Hi­rani has reaped box of­fice gold with a di­verse range of films, from come­dies in­clud­ing “3 Id­iots” (2009) and alienon-earth hit “PK” (2014), to the sports drama “Fi­nal Round” (2016) and now on to “Sanju”. Ex­perts say the In­dian film in­dus­try is on track for record earn­ings in 2018, af­ter sur­pass­ing last year’s $2.1 bil­lion mark by the end of the first quar­ter. Across all lan­guages, In­dia now pro­duces more than 1,000 movies a year-sev­eral hun­dred more than come out of Hol­ly­wood.

In­creas­ingly these films are find­ing a global au­di­ence. Hi­rani’s “3 Id­iots”-the tale of three friends strug­gling with the pres­sures of get­ting an ed­u­ca­tion-was a ground-breaker in terms of in­ter­na­tional box of­fice suc­cess, with around $30 mil­lion in in­ter­na­tional tak­ings. Hi­rani said Bol­ly­wood film­mak­ers are ex­pand­ing their own hori­zons as their au­di­ence grows, both do­mes­ti­cally and glob­ally. But the film­maker stressed he had found no magic wand for mak­ing great cinema.

“I don’t think there’s ever a for­mula for suc­cess in film,” said Hi­rani. “If there was, every­one would share it. I’ve been for­tu­nate “I guess one of the prin­ci­ples I work with is make the film for your­self not an au­di­ence. At least then one per­son will like it.” “You can’t judge what the world will like,” he added. “If you laugh at the jokes you are writ­ing, if you can cry at the emo­tional scenes, then hope­fully the au­di­ence will too.”

But for all the guide­lines, Hi­rani says, early on it’s hard to pre­dict what the fi­nal prod­uct will look like. “Ev­ery time you start a new film it’s like dig­ging a new well. You are not sure what you might find.” The Busan In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val runs un­til Satur­day.—AFP

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