April 10, 2011 Y. Sunitha Chowdhary
A few Egyptians come riding to Hampi on horses in 1984 in Shakti, the audience is amused. Great stories are either exceptional or not worth listening to, they need not be logical, it's enough if they appeal to our senses. They shouldn't contradict themselves; audiences are clever and they see through your deceit at once and that's exactly what has happened with four films that released recently: Khaleja, Mangala, Anaganaga O Dheerudu and Shakti. The common point is that all of them are socio-fantasy and period films and have failed at the box-office on which a collective money of 105 crores have been spent.
When Shyam Prasad Reddy's Ammoru released in 1994, it inspired filmmakers to make similar subjects and for the next three years movie buffs were treated to stories on deities and sorcery and none clicked. Arundhati and Magadheera had a phenomenal reach but none could replicate it despite embarking on more or less similar stories and spending astronomical amount on them. What ails the execution in such huge projects?
Producer Shyam Prasad Reddy knew very well what he was getting into when he thought of Arundhati. He made sure his film wouldn't get lost right from the titles, posters, content, technicality, the colours, composition, look, the freshness and the emotional connection with the audience. A filmmaker should have the passion for the subject. He should know what he is good at and should be able to understand what the audience enjoys and wants.
He says, "It isn't easy to make such kind of films as they are very dramatic from the crowns, costumes, accessories, it should look real and if the viewers begin to question, the logics goes for a toss, he will lose interest in the film. Once a film is successful, people tend to replicate it, you can't have biryani every day, it gets boring. Only originality works."
One needs to be extremely careful if the characters need to go back and forth, when you have two stories a period and a contemporary; they tend to be two different subjects but it is one film. Blending is not easy, the invisible connection between the picture and the people should be perfect as the characters travel through time. It needs a lot of research and effort before the picturisation actually begins.
Shyam says filmmaking is an emotion, an expression and only someone who is deeply passionate about it can churn out a successful film. He questions, "Tell me why lot of corporates are not into filmmaking? It takes something more than then '2 x 2'. A story comes out of your heart, business comes out of your mind. Dabbu sampadinchudham ani vocchinodu ikkada yevaru successful kaadu. You should have a desire. A successful filmmaker could become a successful businessman but not the other way round."
For a lot of producers, the math works and at the end of the calculation and combination, he arrives at a figure that is to be sold. The money which he believes is willing to spend should be less than the money that he is going to get over by selling it. But what matter most is if a film can be produced in the stipulated budget. Shyam opines that no films are the same, every film is fresh and the budgets don't behave perfectly.
Rather than going by the math if you can go by the belief that your script is wonderful and no matter what you going to give the same experience that you have experienced to the audience, keep perfecting it, your film would be definitely successful. No wonder he never sells his films, he releases it himself.
Films were the only entertainment earlier, now film is one of the entertainments. Watching a film in a better place has become an expensive affair, also the common man has lot of alternative. Cinema suffers during IPL, World Cup, natural calamity, political unrest, bandhs and above all there is piracy on the fifth day of it's release. Financial risk has become so phenomenal that in this business, losses are huge and the margins you make are less.
Shyam adds, "If you lose in one film, the comeback is extremely difficult for a filmmaker, vosthe vandha rupayilu pothe veyyi rupayilu." Finally what is Shyam upto? It's been quite some time since Arundhati happened. He replies, "Love stories don't appeal to me, I can only start a film when I'm excited by a project, have just started working on some vague idea. I like something big on screen..bigness that goes beyond our borders."